Malta Football Association
NEWS:
All eyes on title race as Balzan face Valletta in top clash
Feb 2, 2018
Posted in:
General
Leagues
BOV Premier League
Valletta coach Danilo Doncic (second left) shakes hands with his Balzan counterpart Marko Micovic. Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello (left) and Balzan midfielder Paul Fenech are also in the picture.
Valletta coach Danilo Doncic (second left) shakes hands with his Balzan counterpart Marko Micovic. Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello (left) and Balzan midfielder Paul Fenech are also in the picture.

  • Valletta coach Danilo Doncic (second left) shakes hands with his Balzan counterpart Marko Micovic. Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello (left) and Balzan midfielder Paul Fenech are also in the picture.

The title race will be under the spotlight on Sunday as BOV Premier League leaders Balzan lock horns with second-placed Valletta at the National Stadium (kick-off 4pm).  


The stakes are high for both teams as a win for Balzan would increase their gap on Valletta to six points with eight matches remaining and significantly increase their chances of winning their maiden championship.

 

For Valletta, this is a potentially make-or-break encounter after slipping three points behind their title rivals following their 1-1 draw against Sliema Wanderers.

 

Balzan beat Valletta 2-1 in the first round.

 

Led by coach Marko Micovic, Balzan have been the most consistent team this season, losing only once – against St Andrews in August – in 17 matches. In their last outing, they won 2-0 against Hamrun Spartans.

 

Valletta have lost only two games, against Balzan and the other against Gżira United.

 

Coach Danilo Doncic must make do without defender Steve Borg who must serve a one-match ban.   

 

On Saturday, Floriana and Ħamrun Spartans will both be looking to get their season back on track after a disappointing run of results.

 

The Greens have seriously jeopardised their chances of qualifying for Europe after their 1-0 upset to St Andrews... their fourth defeat in their last six matches. They are also out of the FA Trophy.

 

Coach Nicolas Chiesa will demand a positive reaction from Floriana after their shock defeat to St Andrews.

 

Midfielder Maurizio Vella will miss out for Floriana as he begins a three-match ban.  

 

Steven Pisani returns for Floriana who figured in a 2-2 draw against Levski Sofia in a friendly match last Monday.  

 

Ħamrun Spartans lost to Balzan last weekend following their cup exit at the hands of Sliema Wanderers.

 

IMPROVING HIBS


Champions Hibernians will be aiming to make further inroads in the top part of the standings when they meet Mosta on Sunday.

 

Back-to-back wins have breathed life into Hibernians’ season as the Paolites are now fourth, level with Birkirkara on 31 points, nine behind Balzan.

 

For their part, Mosta have all but eased their relegation worries after their 1-0 win over Tarxien Rainbows.
In the first round, Hibs, who will be without Brazilian defender Rodolfo Soares, defeated Mosta 3-0.

 

GŻIRA LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK


In other games, Gżira United meet St Andrews in the opening fixture of matchday 18 on Friday evening.

 

The Maroons will be seeking to bounce back from their 2-0 loss to Hibernians as the top-four battle intensifies.

 

St Andrews come into this match in high spirits after their win over Floriana.

 

The first-round match ended 3-2 in favour of Gżira.

 

On Saturday, Birkirkara will be going all out to extend their winning run to seven consecutive matches but Naxxar Lions will be no easy opponents.

 

The Stripes hammered Senglea 5-0 last weekend while Naxxar Lions beat Lija 4-0.

 

Edward Herrera is suspended for Birkirkara who edged Naxxar 3-2 in the first round.

 

Senglea Athletic will be involved in a direct clash with Tarxien Rainbows on Saturday. 

 

The Yellow-Reds have signed goalkeeper Jurgen Borg but will be without Josuel Spiteri, suspended.

 

Both Senglea and Tarxien badly need the points. Senglea are coming from a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Birkirkara while Tarxien are on a depressing run of 10 straight defeats.

 

The two teams shared the spoils in the first round following a 1-1 draw.

 

Sliema Wanderers start as favourites to take maximum points from their clash with minnows Lija Athletic.

 

Lee Joe Schembri is suspended for the Premier League strugglers.

 

In the first round, Sliema beat Lija 2-0.
 

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