Two big matches in midweek programme
● Valletta face arch rivals Floriana today ● Balzan face Hibernians tomorrow
The Bank of Valletta Premier League enters its fifth batch of matches in the first round with two top clashes – one today and another tomorrow.
Two matches are being played today, one of which is the City and suburban derby between arch rivals Valletta and Floriana. In the only other match today, St Andrews will be meeting Sliema Wanderers.
Another four matches are being played tomorrow, one of which is the top of the table clash between Balzan and Hibernians.
The other matches are TarxienHamrun, Gzira-Pembroke and Birkirkara-Mosta.
After the weekend matches we have two joint leaders instead of the previous three. This is because Valletta and Balzan drew their encounter 2-2, while Birkirkara suffered their first defeat against Sliema.
But everything is tight at the top with only one point separating the top four clubs.
The Valletta-Floriana clash, as usual, is expected to be full of fire with both sets of fans keeping the old traditional rivalry alive.
Valletta have a four-point lead over their rivals at present, but must have been very disappointed to have squandered a first half 2-0 lead against Balzan last Saturday, allowing the other joint leaders to come from behind to snatch a point from a 2-2 draw.
The citizens must be aware that Floriana will certainly provide them with tough opposition even if Tedesco’s men suffered an unexpected 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tarxien Rainbows on Saturday.
I expect the Greens to do their utmost to get something positive from this match even if they are aware that it is always a difficult task against their neighbours.
Balzan did well to come back strongly against Valletta to earn a point. Now they face another difficult hurdle as they take on Hibernians, only one point behind them in the standings.
This match tomorrow promises to be another keen encounter, and Hibs will have to show better form than they did against Pembroke on Sunday when they only got away with all the three points thanks to a very late winner.
Birkirkara have a chance to return to winning form after their unexpected defeat at the hands of the Wanderers on Sunday. Tomorrow, they take on Mosta who finally managed to win their first points and match of the season, defeating Gzira by the odd goal in three on Saturday.
Another interesting and keen match should be the clash between Tarxien Rainbows and Hamrun Spartans.
Both sides registered good wins the past weekend and will be eyeing another win tomorrow to move further up the table.
The same can be said of today’s clash between Sliema and St Andrews.
Sliema must have been more than pleased to have notched their first win and points of the season following their deserved win against title challengers Birkirkara.
They will now be facing a St Andrews side which succumbed 3-1 to Hamrun at the weekend after having taken the lead.
The other match in this midweek programme is that between Gzira and Pembroke – another clash which should be a close affair.
Pembroke gave title challengers Hibernians a good run for their money on Sunday in a narrow 2-1 defeat, while Gzira suffered their first loss when going down 2-1 to Mosta.
They both need to return to winning form to move up the standings.
Today, National Stadium 6pm St Andrews-Sliema W. 8pm Floriana-Valletta Stadium 6pm Tarxien R.-Hamrun S. 8pm Hibernians-Balzan Tomorrow, Victor Tedesco Stadium 6pm Gzira U.-Pembroke Ath. 8.15pm Birkirkara-Mosta Valletta Balzan Birkirkara Hibernians Hamrun Floriana Gzira Tarxien Sliema Mosta St. Andrews Pembroke 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 3 3 4 10 8 11 7 8 5 4 2 3 5 3 4 4 10 5 10 3 9 5 9 5 7 4 6 4 5 6 4 5 3 8 3 10 3 11 0
Action from Floriana-Valletta towards the end of last season