Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Floriana-Valletta clash steals show on derby weekend
Feb 1, 2020
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BOV Premier League

Sliema Wanderers vs Gżira United (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 2pm)

 

Both Sliema Wanderers and Gżira United are in need for points of different reasons. The Maroons are pushing to keep alive their title challenge whereas the Blues are under pressure to embark on a positive run to steer away from the danger zone.
 


Both sides had more time to prepare for this derby as they were not involved in the FA Trophy fourth-round matches last weekend. They are eager to bounce back after identical 2-1 defeats in their last league game two weeks ago, Sliema losing against Valletta and Gżira to Sta Lucia.

 

That defeat for Gżira United prompted the departure of coach Giovanni Tedesco who has been replaced by Paul Zammit.

 

Experienced defender Rodolfo Soares is missing through suspension.

 

The first-round encounter between Sliema and Gżira ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

 

Ħamrun Spartans v Tarxien Rainbows (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)

 

On paper, Ħamrun Spartans start as favourites to win this encounter against Tarxien Rainbows who need the points to start recovering from their dire situation.

 

A win for the Spartans would propel them further clear of the relegation zone notwithstanding their far ambitious target of vying for a place in Europe or at least equal their commendable fourth position last season.

 

The Rainbows will be going all out for their first win in this league, having claimed only one point so far in a recent draw against Senglea Athletic.

 

Ħamrun Spartans have Mattia Cinquini back but Darren Borg and Clayton Failla must serve a one-match ban.

 

The first-round tie was a very interesting encounter with the Spartans edging Rainbows 3-2.

 

Mosta vs Senglea Athletic (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 4pm)

 

Mosta face Senglea Athletic in a clash between two teams who still have work to do to banish their relegation worries.

 

Mark Miller’s side are coming from two defeats on the spin, having lost 2-0 to Sirens in their last league encounter, followed by their FA Trophy elimination against Birkirkara.

 

Mosta are four points above Senglea who would need a repeat of their first-round performance against the Blues after beating them 2-1.

 

Gabriel Aquilina serves a one-match ban for Mosta who will be without Dexter Xuereb following his move to Gżira United.

 

Senglea have made some new signings to compensate for the departure of Leighton Grech, who has joined Santa Lucia, and Marcelo Dias who has moved to Floriana. Nicolas Virano returns for the Yellow-Reds.

 

Santa Lucia vs Gudja United (Saturday – Centenary Stadium, 4.15pm)

 

Santa Lucia will be aiming to maintaining their recent resurgence as they lock horns with neighbours Gudja United in what looks like a ‘six-pointer’ for the two teams.

 

Oliver Spiteri’s side have claimed four points in their last two league outings, drawing against Valletta before beating Gżira United 2-1.

 

Gudja held Ħamrun Spartans in a 2-2 draw in their last league outing.

 

The Saints have Malta U-21 international Timmy Aquilina in goal after he terminated his loan spell with Gudja at the end of the year but are hampered by the absence of three suspended players – Luis Riascos, Farid Zuniga and Camilo Escobar. David Mendoza is back in the frame.

 

Juan Andres Bolanos is suspended for Gudja United.

 

The first-round encounter ended 1-1.

 

Floriana vs Valletta (Sunday – National Stadium, 2pm)


This is the highlight of the weekend as leaders Floriana face champions and rivals Valletta in what promises to be an action-packed derby.

 

A sizeable crowd is expected to turn up for Sunday’s game as both teams are challenging for the title.

 

Floriana coach Enzo Potenza will be hoping that his side claim the three points from this match as a win would lift the Greens eight points clear of their opponents, in the process boosting their chances of winning the coveted league title after a 27-year absence.

 

On the other hand, a win for Valletta, the current champions, would keep them firmly in the championship race, opening the title issue wide open as the likes of Hibernians and Gżira United are also in the hunt.

 

Tiago Adan Fonseca and new signing Marcelo Dias are suspended for Floriana while keeper Henry Bonello is doubtful for Valletta having missed their recent wins over Sliema Wanderers and Sirens in the cup.

 

The first-round encounter on September 15th ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

Hibernians v Sirens (Sunday – National Stadium, 4pm)

 

Hibernians are the form team of the moment and will be aiming to keep their winning run going but their task promises to be a difficult one as Sirens are tough opponents as reflected by their current top-five position.

 

Hibernians have signalled their intention to step up their title challenge after completing the signings of Luis Edison ‘Tarabai’ and Jorge Silva with both players making a return to the club. In midweek, the Paolites held Czech side Mlada Boleslav in a friendly match.

 

Sirens had won the first-round encounter 2-1. Lucas Memezes is suspended but Adrian Borg returns for the team led by Stephen D’Amato.

 

Balzan vs Birkirkara (Monday – National Stadium, 7pm)

 

Neighbours Balzan and Birkirkara bring the curtains on Matchday 16. 

 

A balanced encounter is on the cards with boths sides having disappointing outcomes in their last league encounter. Balzan lost 3-1 to Floriana while Birkirkara were held to a 1-1 draw by Senglea Athletic.

 

Balzan will be without their prolific scorer Andrija Majdevac for the rest of the season following his move to Cyprus during this transfer window.

 

The expectations surrounding Birkirkara are high as on Monday the club signed former Spain international Diego Capel while Italian Claudio Bonanni is also a new face in Andre Paus’s squad for the rest of the season.

 

Balzan have Paul Fenech and Steve Pisani missing through suspension.

 

The neutrals will definitely relish a repeat of the entertaining first-round duel which finished 3-3.  

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