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
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.
Alfred Effiong (right) is proving to be an asset for Balzan
Floriana’s Mario Fontanella (left) could be the secret weapon against Sliema