Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Floriana face Hibernians in must-win clash for both sides
Jan 22, 2021
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BOV Premier League

Tarxien Rainbows vs Gżira United (Friday – Centenary Stadium, 5pm)

 

Coming from a resounding 4-1 victory over Floriana, Gżira United are in high spirits going into their clash with Tarxien Rainbows who are also in good form, having drawn against the champions and edged Balzan in their last two matches.


The Maroons will be fully aware that this could be a tricky test with both sides settling for a point each in their first-round meeting.

 

A third win on the trot for Gżira would push them further up the table and keep them within touching distance of the title challengers while Tarxien will be going all out to gain the points and boost their hopes of survival.

 

Coach Darren Abdilla is expected to have a fully-fit squad while Tarxien’s Brandon Muscat must serve a one-match ban.

 

Valletta vs Balzan (Friday – Centenary Stadium, 9pm)

 

Valletta return to action after COVID-19 issues forced the postponement of their last three fixtures. They face Balzan in a must-win match for both teams with the Citizens needing the points to claw their way up the standings and Balzan to move out of the red zone.

 

Valletta’s last outing was a narrow 2-1 win over Lija Athletic a week before Christmas. This match also marks the debut for Portuguese coach Antonio José Cardoso Mendes who took charge of Valletta last month.

 

Italian midfielder David Paglia is in line to make his debut for Valletta but wing-back Joseph Zerafa is out through suspension.

 

Balzan coach Mark Miller should have a full squad at his disposal as the Reds look to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Tarxien Rainbows.

 

Floriana vs Hibernians (Saturday – National Stadium, 2pm)

 

Floriana take on second-placed Hibernians in the most enticing fixture of matchday 17 with two sides striving for points for totally different reasons.

 

The Greens are in a difficult situation, slipping to 11th after a run of negative results. They will be chasing their first win in six matches against the Paolites who will be aiming strongly for maximum points to maintain the pressure on leaders Ħamrun Spartans.

 

Floriana are coming from a 4-1 setback against Gżira United while Hibernians, 3-1 winners in the corresponding first-round encounter, had the better of Sliema Wanderers in their last outing.

 

Forward Tiago Adan Fonseca could make his debut for Hibernians after rejoinig them from Floriana, meaning that he could be lining up against his former team-mates.

 

Lija Athletic vs Gudja United (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 2pm)

 

Lija Athletic and Gudja resume their league campaign after an enforced break due to covid issues with a direct clash.

 

Lija are currently second from bottom in the table and in need of embarking on a good run to improve their chances of avoiding relegation.

 

On the other hand, a win for Gudja would consolidate their mid-table position, pushing them further clear of the bottom part of the standings.

 

Lija are depleted for this match with Gianluca Zammit, Leon Muscat and Neil Micallef all missing due to suspension. Gudja have two players suspended, Aidan Friggieri and Patrick Silva Mota.

 

Gudja secured a 2-0 win in the first-round meeting.

 

Sliema Wanderers vs Sirens (Saturday – National Stadium, 6pm)

 

Two sides facing each other on the back of identical 1-0 defeats, Sliema Wanderers against Hibernians while Sirens lost to Ħamrun Spartans. 

 

The two teams will be aiming to get back to winning form in pursuit of their season targets with the Wanderers trying to keep the pace with the front-runners and Sirens looking to move up the standings as they currently lie 11th.

 

Defender Oscar Linton Bethancourt is set to return for Sliema after serving a one-match ban while Sirens welcome back Ryan Scicluna and Angel Manuel Bustos.

 

Their first-round encounter ended goalless.

 

Żejtun Corinthians vs Senglea Athletic – (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 6pm)


Żejtun Corinthians start as favourites to collect the three points against a struggling Senglea Athletic who are bottom of the table and still chasing their first league win this season.

 

Żejtun, who have produced a series of encouraging performances in their first top-division campaign, will be eyeing their first win in four matches after drawing their last three games.

 

Senglea are depleted for this match, hit by the absence of the suspended duo Andre Scicluna and Luis Carlos Riascos.

 

Żejtun’s January signing Sergio Barboza Da Silva must also serve a a one-match ban.

 

The two sides figured in a 1-1 draw in the first round.

 

Mosta vs Birkirkara (Sunday – National Stadium, 2pm)

 

One of the most attractive matches this weekend is the clash between Mosta and the resurgent Birkirkara.

 

Only one point separates the two sides with Mosta looking to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat to Ħamrun Spartans in their last outing. The Stripes, sixth on 25 points, will be seeking to improve on their goalless draw against Santa Lucia while also making up for the 3-0 defeat they suffered to Mosta in the first round.

 

Mosta must make do without Matias Muchardi, suspended.

 

Ħamrun Spartans vs Santa Lucia (Sunday – National Stadium, 6pm)

 

Leaders Ħamrun Spartans face Santa Lucia in the last match of the weekend, meaning that both teams will be taking the field knowing the results of their direct competitors.

 

Ħamrun Spartans are currently the team to beat as their terrific form has seen them lead the way amid high expectations of a sustained title challenge.

 

However, the Spartans are unlikely to have an easy match on Sunday as the Saints are doing very well this season, regularly defying the odds as reflected by their seventh position in the table.

 

Defender Elkin Serrano Valero returns from suspension for Ħamrun Spartans but striker Predrag Djordjevic, scorer of the winning goal against Sirens, will be missing.

 

Likewise, Japanese Rei Tachikawa is suspended for Santa Lucia who suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat in the first-round encounter with Ħamrun Spartans. 

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