Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Title hopefuls Spartans and Gżira in direct encounter
Feb 26, 2021
Posted in:
General
BOV Premier League
PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

The 2020/21 BOV Premier League has entered a crucial phase. The stakes are very high for the teams engaged in the title race, those chasing a top-four finish and a spot in the UEFA competitions as well as those embroiled in the relegation battle.

 

The clash between leaders Ħamrun Spartans and third-placed Gżira United on Saturday is indubitably the top clash as both teams are firmly challenging for the title.


Gudja United vs Tarxien Rainbows (Friday – Centenary Stadium, 17.00)

 

Gudja United face Tarxien Rainbows in what promises to be a hard-fought contest between two teams looking to keep their top-flight status.

 

A win for Gudja United would dampen Tarxien’s hopes of preserving their Premier League place next season while a victory for the Rainbows would boost their chances, keeping the absorbing relegation issue wide open.

 

Boosted by the return of Eduardo Rosado, Tarxien, under new coach Steve D’Amato, will be going all out to make amends for their 5-0 hammering against Gudja United in the first-round fixture.

 

Sirens vs Lija Athletic (Friday – Centenary Stadium, 21.00)

 

Sirens are 10 points clear of second-from-bottom Lija Athletic with the latter needing a win to keep their fading survival hopes alive.

 

On the other hand, victory for Sirens would be a massive boost in their quest to move further clear of the relegation zone. They are currently in 10th place on 26 points.

 

Jammeh Tamsir returns from suspension for Sirens who were comfortable 2-0 winners in the corresponding first-round match. Lija will be aiming to recover from their 5-0 defeat to Hibernians last weekend.

 

Birkirkara vs Floriana (Saturday – National Stadium, 14.00)

 

Another enticing match as Birkirkara lock horns with Floriana with both sides in need for points for different reasons – the Stripes to maintain their upward push towards European football and the Greens to further ease their relegation worries.

 

Birkirkara, 5-2 winners in the first round, will be looking to get back to winning form after their enthralling 2-2 draw against Sliema Wanderers. Floriana will be looking to build on their narrow 1-0 win over Gudja United in coach Enzo Potenza’s return to the helm.

 

Birkirkara are weakened by the absence of Oscar Carniello, suspended, but Enrico Pepe returns. Floriana coach Potenza is likely to stick with same starting XI from the Gudja match.

 

Sta Lucia vs Mosta (Saturday – Hiberniams Stadium, 14.00)

 

An interesting fixture between Sta Lucia and Mosta – the first of two meetings as the two teams will again face each other in the FA Trophy Last 16.

 

Both teams have an outside chance of a European spot but also knowing that a win for their direct encounter would further consolidate their position in the top half.

 

In their last outings, Mosta drew 0-0 against Sirens while Santa Lucia lost narrowly to Valletta.

 

Clayton Failla and Kevin Tulimieri, both red-carded in the draw against Sirens, will serve a one-match ban for Mosta. The Saints are likely to field their strongest line-up as they look to atone for the 1-0 upset against Mosta in the first round.

 

Gżira United v Ħamrun Spartans (Saturday – National Stadium, 18.00)

 

This is the most awaited fixture as leaders Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United are challenging for the top prize with only four points separating them.

 

The Spartans will be aiming to extend their 16-match unbeaten run against a Gżira side who are also on a roll after taking maximum points from their last eight matches.

 

Led by Mark Buttigieg, the Spartans currently lead the way on 50 points with Gżira third only four points adrift. Second-placed Hibernians will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this match as it could change the situation at the top.

 

Ħamrun Spartans defender Karl Micallef must a one-match ban.

 

Both teams have a balanced team and a lot of attacking flair with Jorge Ailton Soares taking up the mantle as Ħamrun’s livewire and Maxuell Maia constantly delivering the goals for Gżira United after his move from Sirens.

 

The first-round fixture between the two sides finished in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

 

Hibernians v Żejtun Corinthians (Saturday – Hibernians Stadium, 18.00)

 

Hibernians take on Żejtun Corinthians only three days after the Paolites emerged 3-0 winners to advance to the Last 16 of the FA Trophy.

 

Led by Stefano Sanderra, Hibernians start as favourites to pick up the three points but they will surely show respect for the Corinthians who have produced some solid performances in their maiden Premier League campaign.

 

Żejtun are in urgent need of points as they have suffered a decline lately, dropping to fifth from bottom in the table.

 

Raphael Dos Anjos is back from suspension for Hibernians while Kemar Reid and Vitor Vieira are expected to return for Żejtun.

 

The first-round match between Hibernians and Żejtun ended 2-2.

 

Balzan vs Sliema Wanderers (Sunday – National Stadium, 14.00)

 

Balzan find themselves in the unusual positon of fighting against the drop while Sliema Wanderers are vying to keep alive their European hopes.

 

The Reds, who lost 3-2 to Ħamrun last weekend, have it all to do to keep their top-flight status as they are fourth from bottom.

 

Sliema, fifth one point behind Birkirkara, will be without Alessandro Milesi (suspended). Balzan welcome back Weverton Gomes and Milan Duric.

 

The Wanderers emerged 3-1 winners in the first-round meeting.

 

Senglea A. vs Valletta (Sunday – National Stadium, 18.00)

 

The final fixture of Matchday 22 sees Valletta take on bottom side and relegation-bound Senglea Athletic.


Valletta are coming from a narrow 1-0 win against Santa Lucia, lifting them up the ladder to seventh. Goalkeeper Henry Bonello is still suspended but midfielder Ryan Fenech returns from suspension for the Whites who are eyeing a strong finish to an otherwise difficult season.

 

Senglea have Dion Fava suspended but Zachary Cassar is back.

 

Valletta edged Senglea 2-1 in the first round fixture.

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