The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

BOV Premier League: Floriana v Hibernians is the top clash this weekend

Henry Brincat Friday, 8 November 2019, 13:00 Last update: about 5 days ago

It will certainly be another enthralling weekend of Premier League football with the top clash being certainly Sunday's encounter between leaders Floriana and 5th placed Hibernians.

But there are also the other matches which promise to be entertaining and keenly contested.

Among them is the clash between 2nd placed Gzira United and 3rd placed Sirens, while Hamrun and Valletta will also be expected to go all out for maximum points in the hope that Hibernians might beat Floriana on Sunday to reopen the title race for them.

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Also keenly contested should be the relegation clash between Gudja and Tarxien tomorrow.

The programme starts this evening with three matches. Valletta-Senglea is at the Hibernians Stadium; Balzan-Mosta and Sliema-Hamrun will be played at the Centenary Stadium.

Tomorrow, Gudja-Tarxien and Santa Lucia-Birkirkara will be played at the Centenary Stadium, while the Gzira-Sirens and Floriana-Hibernians matches on Sunday will be played at the National Stadium.

 

TOP CLASHES

The two top clashes this weekend are the Floriana-Hibernians and Gzira-Sirens encounters.

The latter match will be the first to be played tomorrow and it is expected to be another keenly contested match because of various reasons.

First and foremost, it is evident that both teams' aim will be the three points in the knowledge that they need to put pressure on leaders Floriana who might drop some points in their match against Hibernians on Sunday.

Moreover, both are on a positive run with Gzira having won five matches in a row and with Sirens having beaten Balzan 4-2 and drawn 0-0 against Valletta in their last two matches.

The high-flying Gzira must be aware that the Sirens side - newly promoted to the Premier League this season - are no fluke.

The St Paul's Bay side has surprised everyone and coach Steve D'Amato must be commended for the way the team is performing, though unfortunately for them, most of their players lack the necessary experience.

Gzira will be eyeing a 6th successive win, not only to maintain their unbeaten record, but also to move closer to Floriana in the hope that the Greens will falter the day after against the Paolites.

This match, together with the Floriana-Hibs game soon after, will certainly attract a large crowd to the National Stadium.

All title challengers (with the exception of Floriana) will be hoping that Hibernians will be able to inflict a first defeat on the league leaders.

At present, Floriana enjoy a four-point lead over Gzira, six over Sirens, seven over Hamrun and Hibernians and eight over Valletta. It is obvious that only a victory for the Paolites (or a draw) will reopen the title race, although it is still quite early in the campaign - in fact only just over one third of the matches have been played so far.

The Greens are passing through a splendid season with coach Vincenzo Potenza, last season with Senglea, being hailed as a great hero.

The inclusion of some players from Senglea's squad of last season, especially all-rounder Diego Venancio, has strengthened the side in a considerable manner and it is no surprise that they are the most consistent and powerful side, apart from remaining unbeaten.

Hibernians, on their part, will be expected to do their utmost to win maximum points.

They themselves are still in the title race and three points on Sunday evening will move them to just 4 points away from the Greens.

They also know, however, that a defeat will push them back to a massive 10 points behind, thus ruining their hopes of claiming the title at the end of the campaign.

 

OTHER MATCHES

The Valletta-Senglea game is an opportunity for the citizens to forget all about their recent disappointing performances, especially last week's goalless draw with Sirens.

The defending champions are aware that only a win this evening will keep their hopes of defending their title successfully alive, especially if Hibs beat Floriana on Sunday.

But Senglea will not be throwing in the towel so easily. Last weekend they showed all their fighting spirit in the clash against Balzan when they fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the final moments.

Hamrun will also be aiming to return to winning form when they take on Sliema this evening.

The Spartans have dropped 4 points from their last two games - draws against lowly placed Birkirkara and Santa Lucia.

Sliema are a team in distress having lost six matches from the nine played. They know they need to get back on the winning track as quickly as possible to try and change their fortunes if they are to avoid trouble in future.

This may also apply to Birkirkara who now face the lively Santa Lucia side tomorrow.

The Stripes are, perhaps, the biggest flop of the season. Having invested so much in well known players, they have failed miserably culminating in last week's 3-2 defeat at the hands of Gudja United.

Like Sliema, they need to start winning matches to get out of the relegation zone.

The Saints will be aiming to make the most of Birkirkara's 'demise' so as to continue winning points which may mean safety for them at the end of the campaign.

The Balzan-Mosta encounter should also be a close contest with the two teams aiming to return to winning form after disappointing performances the past weekend. Then Balzan squandered a two-goal lead in the final moments against Senglea to draw 2-2, while Mosta went down 3-1 to leaders Floriana in a mostly one-sided match.

The Gudja-Tarxien match tomorrow is another game which should be worth watching.

Although still early in the season, it is already evident that this is a game between two teams who will be fighting to avoid relegation.

Gudja are on the crest of the waves after a fine performance which provided them with hope and enthusiasm - not to mention the precious three points - against Birkirkara last weekend.

On the other hand, Tarxien still have to earn their first points or victory this season. They have lost all their nine matches so far.

But they also know that not everything is lost yet, at this stage. They must be aware that a victory tomorrow should prove to be a big boost for their future commitments.

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