The Malta Independent 20 January 2019, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Hibernians, Valletta chase Gzira for leadership at end of first round

Henry Brincat Monday, 17 December 2018, 13:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

The first round of the Bank of Valletta Premier League comes to an end this evening at the National Stadium with two matches involving Hibernians and Valletta who will be chasing Gzira for the Premier League leadership.

At present, Gzira are enjoying a one-point lead over Hibernians and three over third placed Valletta. The Maroons went to the top of the standings on Friday night after beating St Andrews narrowly 2-1.

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Hibernians will be seeking their ninth consecutive victory when facing Balzan in the first match, while Valletta will be after their 11th consecutive positive result. After their opening two matches which resulted in defeats, Valletta went through a very impressive run of 9 wins and a draw.

Today Valletta will be facing Hamrun Spartans who are fighting for a place in European football next season.

Both matches are expected to be keenly contested and Stadium patrons should be guaranteed an evening of entertaining football.

The Hibernians-Balzan match ought to be a balanced encounter, even if Hibernians start as hot favourites.

The Paolites are aware that they need a victory to overtake Gzira and become sole leaders once again.

The Paolites have been showing progress in their recent matches during which, slowly but surely, they have gained momentum and are now considered as potential challengers for the League title.

Balzan were somewhat disappointed in midweek when they lost 2-1 to Valletta in the match for the Super Cup. I expect them to go all out to forget that setback and earn the points to remain in the running for a European football berth next season.

At present, they are fifth in the standings on 22 points, alongside Hamrun, three points behind 4th placed Sliema.

The Valletta-Hamrun clash should be fiery from start to finish with both sets of rival fans doing their utmost to encourage their favourites.

It has been quite a long time that such a match has attracted so much interest. And this is only because the two teams are considered to be among the strongest in the Premier League.

In fact, even the Spartans have assembled a very competitive team this season which is obviously the revelation side this season.

Under the charge of Italian mentor Giovanni Tedesco, the Spartans have become a strong side, compact in defence and midfield and well equipped in front.

And I expect them to give the citizens a strong challenge this evening, despite the fact that they will have to be at their very best at the back to keep City’s formidable striking trio of Piciollo, Fontanella and Kaljevic at bay.

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