Leaders Valletta take on Birkirkara

Leaders Valletta will be hoping to keep the pace on top the BOV Premier League table as they take on rivals Birkirkara in one of the two matches in programme at the National Stadium on Sunday.

The Citizens are coming from a fine run of fourteen matches without defeat and registered a 5-2 win over Marsaxlokk in their last outing. Against Birkirkara, they will be in full strength with no players injured or suspended.

Besides trying to upset their rivals, the Stripes will be hoping to earn points from this game in their bid to secure a place in the Championship Pool. They are currently joint-fourth on 29 points and need four from the remaining three matches to make sure of clinching a top-six finish.

The inclusion of new striker Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza seemed to have had the desired effect as they registered a comfortable 4-0 win over Balzan Youths in their last outing. Birkirkara may have Serbian defender Nikola Vukanac making his debut after returning with the club. Ryan Scicluna will be back after missing the last game through suspension.

On the other hand, new signings Filippo Andrea Scozzese and Aleksandrs Cekulajevs are not expected to be included in the squad for Valletta.

The two teams met twice this season with the Euro Cup clash ending in a 2-2 draw and Valletta winning 2-1 in the Premier League first round.

Meanwhile in the first match, Marsaxlokk and Tarxien both eye the three points in a clash between the two bottom teams.

Marsaxlokk are coming from a series of seven successive defeats and therefore cannot not collecting any points on Sunday in order to maintain the pace with the remaining teams in their bid to avoid relegation. They have gone three months without a win, the last one being against Hamrun in November. However Tarxien were one of the teams that Marsaxlokk managed to beat earlier in the season as they defeated them 4-2 in the first round.

Tarxien are currently second from bottom on 15 points and a win over Marsaxlokk would enable them to leapfrog Hamrun and move tenth. They earned two points in two draws in the last two matches but have now gone four matches without a win. In fact they won just one of the last nine matches.

Steve Sadowski will be back for Tarxien after serving a one-match ban but Carl Sammut and Daniel Mariano Bueno are both unavailable. Italian defender Modesto Valeriani is ruled out through suspension for Marsaxlokk.

Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com