The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Gzira expected to retain their lead at top of standings

Henry Brincat Friday, 2 November 2018, 13:00 Last update: about 16 days ago

Another interesting weekend is in store for local football enthusiasts as leaders Gzira United are expected to retain their lead at the top of the standings.

The Maroons face Pieta Hotspurs this weekend, while their immediate followers, Valletta and Hibernians, will be facing Floriana and Mosta respectively.

Sliema and Balzan will also be looking to return to winning form after suffering defeats the past weekend.

Sliema will be facing the inconsistent Birkirkara side while Balzan take on St Andrews.

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The remaining two matches are Qormi v. Hamrun Spartans and Senglea Athletic v. Tarxien Rainbows.

The Maroons are favourites to beat Pieta and may also extend their lead if Valletta and Hibernians fail to collect all the three points from their weekend clashes.

Gzira are passing through a golden patch and it seems as if this could be their season to win the title after having secured a third place last year which enabled them to play in the Europa League.

Pieta, however, could prove to be difficult opponents even if they were crushed by Valletta to the tune of 4-0 in their last encounter.

 

THE HIGHLIGHT

The top match of the weekend is expected to be the rival derby between Valletta and neighbouring Floriana.

At present, after eight matches, Valletta are in second place on 18 points, a massive nine ahead of their big rivals.

But this does not mean that they will have an easy task, although Floriana have been a disappointing outfit so far, apart from showing inconsistency.

In their last encounter, the Greens surprisingly lost 1-2 against Pieta and they should forget all about that defeat if they are to offer strong opposition to their rivals.

On the other hand, Valletta are no doubt the most improved side since the start of the season. After their opening two defeats, the side has collected six wins on the trot and their front line of Kaljevic, Piciollo and Fontanella has become the envy of all the other teams, perhaps also of leaders Gzira United (they will be facing each other next week). So far they have scored 28 goals in eight matches and suffered only seven.

The programme also features what should be a keen encounter between two neighbouring sides - Hamrun and Qormi.

But while the Spartans are occupying a healthy mid-table position on 12 points, Qormi are in 13th place with just four points, the same as Senglea, who, however, have an inferior goal difference.

The Spartans will obviously be looking forward to obtain another win after their come from behind success against Birkirkara last week.

Qormi have been somewhat unlucky on certain occasions, but they will have to show improvement if they are to move up the standings to a healthier place.

Hibernians have a good chance to win again. This time they face Mosta who are third from bottom and suffering defeats even if they are giving opponents a good run for their money.

Today's Birkirkara v. Sliema encounter also promises to be a keen clash.

Both sides are coming from a defeat and will therefore be hoping to return to winning form.

The Stripes have been somewhat disappointing so far and this was evident last week when they allowed Hamrun to take over the reins of a match they appeared to have been dominating in the first half.

The Blues also suffered a defeat at the hands of Hibernians last week and they also have to show improvement if they are to maintain the pace at the top.

Balzan, 5th on 15 points, will also be aiming for the three points against St Andrews, but even the latter will be chasing the points after having surprisingly lost to bottom club Senglea last weekend.

In the other match on the programme, Senglea will hope to continue on the right track when they face Tarxien Rainbows.

The Athletic obtained their first victory after seven defeats last week when they beat St Andrews 2-1.

Tarxien, in mid-table on nine points, will be hoping to increase their points total by registering another win this weekend.

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