Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Rivals Valletta and Birkirkara in high-stakes duel
Feb 23, 2018
Posted in:
General
Leagues
BOV Premier League

Expect Valletta and Birkirkara to go into their direct clash at the National Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 4pm) with a winner-takes-all mentality as both clubs need the points to boost their hopes of reaching their targets this season.


The encounter between these two rivals is the highlight of matchday 20 of the BOV Premeir League which kicks off on Friday with the match between Naxxar Lions and Hibernians.

 

Second-placed Valletta closed in on leaders Balzan after they beat Lija Athletic 3-1 and the latter were held to a 1-1 draw by Floriana.

 

For much of the opening five months of the season, Balzan and Valletta were regarded as the main challengers for the title but Birkirkara’s remarkable eight-match winning run has revived their hopes.

 

The Stripes, currently sharing third spot with Gżira United on 37 points, have come a long way since losing 3-0 to Valletta in the first round.

 

Only four points separate the two teams amid high expectations of a hard-fought duel which should attract a good crowd to the National Stadium.

 

Danilo Doncic has no injury worries while Matthew Guillaumier is the only injury absentee for Birkirkara whose coach, Paul Zammit, will be facing his former club.

 

Another interesting fixture is that between top-three hopefuls Gżira United and Floriana on Saturday at the Hibernians Stadium (4pm).

 

Both teams are challenging for a berth in the UEFA competitions next season.

 

The first-round encounter ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

The Greens will once again be without midfielder Maurizio Vella who has yet to complete a three-match ban. The Italian is joined by fellow midfielder Clyde Borg who was handed a five-match ban after the 1-1 draw against Balzan.

 

This weekend’s programme kicks off with the game between Naxxar Lions and Hibernians this evening at the Tedesco Stadium (7pm).

 

The league is now Hibs’ only route to European football following their elimination from the BOOST Diesel FA Trophy.

 

The champions are fifth in the standings on 35 points, seven off the top, while Naxxar Lions are fighting against the drop.
Brazilian defender Rodolfo Soares is suspended or Hibs following his red card in the Trophy defeat tio Sliema Wanderers.

 

In the first round, Hibs and Naxxar Lions figured in a 1-1 draw.

 

BALZAN-LIJA DERBY


For the second time in a week, Balzan meet neighbours Lija Athletic on Saturday at the National Stadium (2pm).

 

The first-round derby had been a thrilling affair with Balzan emerging 4-3 winners. Serbian duo Uros Ljubomirac and Milos Lepovic return from suspension for Balzan who last week eliminated Lija from the FA Trophy.

 

Balzan coach Mark Micovic must cope be without defender Elkin Serrano Valero, suspended.

 

RELEGATION CLASH

 

St Andrews, who have collected six points from their last four matches, will be involved in a direct clash with Senglea, whom they had beaten 1-0 in first round.

 

Senglea coach Paolo Favaretto welcomes back Matias Nicolas Garcia from suspension.

 

Sliema Wanderers, on a high after their FA Trophy quarter-final win against Hibernians, face Tarxien Rainbows in Saturday’s second match at the National Stadium.

 

Italian defender Stefano Biancardi is suspended for Sliema.

 

Sean Cipriott is serving the second of a three-match ban for Tarxien.

 

In the first round, Tarxien pulled off an upset as they beat Sliema 2-1.

 

In Sunday’s curtain-raiser at the National Stadium, Mosta face Ħamrun Spartans.

 

Ħamrun Spartans, whose lead over Mosta has been slashed to just two points, find themselves in need of a boost after going five league matches without a win.

 

Jacques Scerri, the Spartans coach, welcomes back Thiago Espindola de Paula but Tiago Souza da Silveira and Daniel Zerafa will be missing due to suspension.

 

Ħamrun beat Mosta 5-2 in the first round.


 
 

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