Balzan ex­pected to re­tain or even in­crease lead at the top

●They now face St Andrews while Birkirkara face tough test against Val­letta ●Hiber­ni­ans also ex­pected to win against Gzira ●Sliema and Flo­ri­ana meet in ‘Old Firm’ clash to­mor­row

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Henry Brin­cat

As the Bank of Val­letta Pre­mier League en­ters its 7th week, cur­rent lead­ers Balzan seem to have a good chance of not only re­tain­ing their cur­rent lead at the top, but may also be able to in­crease it, con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances.

In fact, while they will be fac­ing mod­est St Andrews, two of their main chal­lengers for the ti­tle – Birkirkara and Val­letta – will be fac­ing each other and it is pos­si­ble that the Stripes will drop a point or all the three points.

Mean­while, the other hot chal­lengers, Hiber­ni­ans, also seem to have a good chance of main­tain­ing the pace as they are favourites to beat Gzira United.

One of the most in­ter­est matches should be the ‘Old Firm’ clash between Sliema and Flo­ri­ana, but the Mosta-Ham­run and Pem­broke-Tarx­ien clashes should also be keenly con­tested.

Balzan should find lit­tle dif­fi­culty in dis­pos­ing of St Andrews. Oliver Spiteri’s side seems to be go­ing from strength to strength and I can­not see the Saints halt­ing their tri­umphant march at the top.

St Andrew’s how­ever, can prove to be tough op­po­nents

for any side on their day and if they man­age to keep Balzan at bay in the first half, then they might spring a sur­prise.

The Birkirkara-Val­letta clash must be con­sid­ered as the top match this week. It is a match which is be­ing played right af­ter the end of the Balzan-St Andrews clash and if Balzan win the three points, the two sides will know what they would need.

Birkirkara will have to for­get their dis­as­trous out­ing against Pem­broke last Mon­day when they un­ex­pect­edly suf­fered a sec­ond de­feat.

The Stripes re­mained in sec­ond place, but are four points adrift of the lead­ers.

On the other hand, af­ter the de­feat at the hands of Hiber­ni­ans, the ci­ti­zens are now six points be­hind the lead­ers and they cer­tainly can­not af­ford a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive de­feat.

The Pao­lites should be able to beat Gzira United to re­main close to the lead­ers. At present they are four points be­hind Balzan and with Balzan ex­pected to win, they will cer­tainly do their best to achieve the three points from their match as well.

The Sliema-Flo­ri­ana clash will cer­tainly pro­vide some fire­works as the two sides need the points for var­i­ous rea­sons.

Sliema have been a very in­con­sis­tent side, hav­ing won two and lost the other three matches. They are still in the bot­tom half of the stand­ings and they need to up their stan­dard if they wish to be more con­sis­tent in their re­sults so as to move to a health­ier place in the ta­ble.

Flo­ri­ana will be keen to re­turn to win­ning form af­ter be­ing held to a draw by Ham­run last Mon­day.

The Greens are show­ing in­con­sis­tency in their matches and must show bet­ter form if they are to beat the Wan­der­ers who showed char­ac­ter in their last match when they came from 1-0 be­hind to reg­is­ter a 21 win.

The Mosta-Ham­run clash also prom­ises to be a keenly con­tested match. Mosta are com­ing from a win against St Andrews – their sec­ond in six games. But they still need to im­prove to be able to move fur­ther up the stand­ings.

The Spar­tans did well to hold Flo­ri­ana to a draw on Mon­day evening, but a victory against the Blues will cer­tainly give them more con­fi­dence apart from hoist­ing them to a health­ier po­si­tion in mid-ta­ble.

In the other match, Tarx­ien seem to have a good chance of re­turn­ing to win­ning form as they take on bot­tom club Pem­broke.

The Rain­bows suf­fered a 2-1 de­feat at the hands of Sliema in their last match while Pem­broke went down heav­ily to Gzira.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Al­fred Ef­fiong (right) is prov­ing to be an as­set for Balzan

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Flo­ri­ana’s Mario Fontanella (left) could be the secret weapon against Sliema

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