Malta Football Association
Four derbies in BOV Premier League this weekend
Sep 10, 2021
Posted in:
BOV Premier League
(c) Domenic Aquilina
(c) Domenic Aquilina

  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina

After the intensity of the international break, the 2021/22 BOV Premier Division is continuing this upcoming weekend with another six Premier League matches, four of them being derbies. 

The derbies

Floriana vs Valletta 
(Saturday 11 September, National Stadium, KO 19h00)
This is the main match of this weekend where Floriana cross swords with arch rivals Valletta. While the Citizens sit on top of the table standings together with Hibernians and Birkirkara, the Greens have failed to win any of their first two outings, with two draws against Sta Lucia (2-2) and Sliema Wanderers (0-0). The Floritans have added three players to their ranks since their last match – Malta U21 striker Mattia Veselji,  Eugeniu Rebenja (Moldova) and Romanian Andrei Ciolacu. Valletta’s morale is sky high going into their clash against Floriana. Last week, the Citizens sealed the signing of goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo of Hamrun Spartans.  This will be the 238th official derby (all competitions) at senior level between the two rivals, with Valletta winning 105, Floriana 71 and 61 games ended in a draw. Last season Floriana beat Valletta 3-0 with two goals by Kristian Keqi and one by Jose Arias. This was Floriana's biggest win since their equivalent 3-0 win in season 1993/94. The last ten derbies played show a very balanced view however: three wins each and four draws. But looking at the last two decades, there is a clear supremacy by Valletta, as since the year 2000, from 71 mutual encounters, they beat Floriana no less than 50 occasions.

Gzira United vs Sliema Wanderers
(Saturday 11 September, Tony Bezzina Stadium, KO21h00)
Neighbours Gzira and Sliema will meet a bit later this Saturday evening, another classic match to look forward to. It has been a disappointing campaign so far for both as they will aim to secure their first win of the season.  The Maroons have been strengthened by the signing of Brazilian forward Yuri de Jesus Messias, who had spells with Mosta, Naxxar Lions, Valletta and Gudja United in the top flight before joining East Riffa in Bahrain in February this year. It will be the 39th encounter in history between the two, with the Wanderers winning 26 from the previous 38. Gzira United won seven and five matches were drawn. Last season, Gzira beat Sliema 3-2 in the 1st round, while Sliema took revenge in the 2nd round with a 2-0 victory. The last ten competitive matches played show an advantage for Sliema: five wins. Gzira won three and there were two draws. 
Balzan vs Birkirkara
(Sunday 12 September, Tony Bezzina Stadium, KO19h00)
Another derby will be played this Sunday between high flyers Birkirkara and Balzan, their 30th clash in history. Birkirkara got their campaign off to a perfect start, with two wins out of two, which could transform them into genuine title challengers. Balzan aim to bounce back to winning ways after falling to a 1-0 defeat against Valletta. But despite the loss, it was an overall impressive performance. Birkirkara defender, Enrico Pepe, is ruled out after he suffered a knock during international duty against Slovenia. Italian Claudio Bonanni is suspended after he was red carded against Hamrun. The first official meeting between the two neighbours was played on 19 September 2003, a Premier Division match which resulted in a 3-0 win for Birkirkara. From the previous 29 meetings, Birkirkara won 15, Balzan six and eight matches ended without a winner. The last three matches, all in the Premier Division, ended all in a draw. The last time Balzan won in the Premier League against Birkirkara was during season 2017/18 (3-1), which was also Balzan's largest win over Birkirkara ever. Last time Birkirkara beat Balzan was on 17th August 2018, more than three years ago.
Gudja United vs Santa Lucia
(Sunday 12 September, National Stadium, KO 21h00)
After two defeats in this season’s Premier Division, Gudja will try to make an impact by implementing a new approach. Even though we are still in the early stages of the campaign, Gudja are experiencing life in the top flight difficult and their main objective is to avoid relegation. Santa Lucia will seek for their first victory after two draws and will be without the suspended Jan Tanti after picking two yellow cards against Gzira United.  This derby is a relatively new one in the Premier Division. However, when the two rivals meet this Sunday, it will be their 30th mutual clash, with the first one being played in 1980 in the 3rd Division. Most of these derbies, 24, have been however played in the lower two Divisions. Last season in the BOV Premier Division, Sta Lucia beat Gudja 3-2, thanks to two goals by Alan da Silva Souza and one by Kevin Rosero. Gudja replied with strikes from Tenior Gusman and Yuri de Jesus Messias. The season before, Santa Lucia won 2-1 while the other match ended in a 1-1 draw. Gudja have therefore never beaten Sta Lucia in the Premier Division. Last time Gudja beat Sta Lucia was in the 2nd Division 2017/18 Championship Decider, 3-1, which was also Gudja's largest victory ever over Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia’s largest victory over Gudja was recorded on the 1st February 1998 in the 2nd Division, a 5-1 win. 
The other matches
Mosta vs Hamrun Spartans
(Saturday 11 September, Tony Bezzina Stadium, KO 17h00)
Hamrun Spartans will be aiming for their first points of the campaign as they take on Mosta. The current Malta Champions have lost their first two encounters of the season after twice giving away the lead against Valletta and Birkirkara. The pressure is on them and they cannot afford another slip-up if they want to stay in the title race, even though we’re still in the early stages of the season. The Spartans will introduce Malta international Luke Gambin, as he was absent in both opening matches as he had to observe a mandatory quarantine after his move from the UK. Hamrun also signed Ghanian defender Isaac Ntow from Birkirkara, who looked initially destined to join Mosta. Mosta will definitely start as underdogs but seek to bring down the champions for their first win of the season after a rather disappointing start of the season with a defeat against Birkirkara (2-0) and a draw against Sirens (1-1).  Last season, Hamrun beat Mosta 3-1, their first win over Mosta since 2018.
Sirens vs Hibernians 
(Sunday 12 September, National Stadium, KO 17h00)
Sirens meet title contenders Hibernians, who have never beaten Sirens in their history. In fact, all three Premier Division matches played in the last two seasons were surprisingly won by the St Paul’s Bay side. The Paolites however, are enjoying top spot as co-leaders. In their first two matches they showed positive impact in their attacking style and defensive solidity, apart of a steel mentality when under pressure and a never-say-die attitude. Their 2-1 win against Gudja United only arrived deep in stoppage time and they are aware that Sirens will pose a difficult challenge. A victory for Sirens will leapfrog their opponents in the top three.  In the meantime, the Sirens clan hope that David Reid would repeat his top form displays of their last two outings will also cause mayhem in the Hibernians defence. The Jamaican striker scored in both matches earning a 1-0 win over Gudja United and a 1-1 draw against Mosta.  
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