The battle at the bottom intensifies

The battle against relegation intensifies as the penultimate round of the BOV Premier League is played this weekend, starting with four matches at the Hibernians Stadium and the National Stadium on Saturday.

With Zebbug lying at the bottom of the table with 12 points, just four points separate seventh-placed Mosta on 20 points and eleventh-placed Pietà Hotspurs on 16. Naxxar are eighth on 19, followed by Qormi on 18 and Tarxien on 17.

Qormi take on Pietà Hotspurs and Zebbug Rangers face Tarxien Rainbows with Naxxar Lions meeting Sliema Wanderers. In another match, Balzan take on Valletta.

Qormi vs Pietà Hotspurs, kick-off 17:00 at Hibernians Stadium
After beating Tarxien 4-0 in a direct clash last week, Qormi seek another win which would put them closer to retaining their status. On the other hand, Pietà, despite a 3-1 win over Zebbug last week, are desperate for victory as a defeat for them and a win for Tarxien in the other game would condemn them to playing in Division 1 next season.

Christian Grech returns for Pietà after serving a one-match ban.

Pietà and Qormi drew 0-0 in the first round with the second round clash ending in a narrow win for the Hotspurs.

Zebbug Rangers vs Tarxien Rainbows, kick-off 19:00 at Hibernians Stadium
After losing to Pietà last week, Zebbug’s chances of avoiding relegation are slim. They need to win the next two games, hoping that Pietà lose to Qormi and that next week’s clash between Pietà and Tarxien ends in a draw. In that case, Zebbug would end their commitments on level points with Tarxien, forcing a decider against relegation.

Tarxien, on the other hand, hope to bounce back after the heavy defeat to Qormi. A win over Zebbug and a defeat for Pietà against Qormi would guarantee that they avoid the bottom two places.

The Rainbows welcome back Alex Cini but Kane Farrugia is suspended. Paltemio Barbetti is ruled out through suspension for Zebbug.

Zebbug beat Tarxien 2-1 in the second round following a 3-3 draw in the first.

Naxxar Lions vs Sliema Wanderers, kick-off 17:00 at National Stadium
After losing three out of the last four matches, Naxxar Lions hope to return to winning ways in this clash against Sliema. Lying fifth from bottom, Naxxar could make sure of avoiding the bottom two places with a win over Sliema. The Wanderers, on the other hand, secured their Premier League status with a 5-1 win over Mosta in their last outing.

Luca Martinelli is ruled out for Sliema as he serves a one-match ban but Djumo Bocar should be back. Albert Bruce is suspended for Naxxar.

Naxxar defeated Sliema 1-0 in the first round with the second round clash ending in a goalless draw.

Balzan vs Valletta, kick-off 19:00 at National Stadium
Fresh from their 3-1 win over Hibernians which enabled them to secure a place in the UEFA Europa League this summer, Balzan target a win over Valletta which would put them, at least temporarily, in joint-third place with Birkirkara.

The Citizens, however, hope to extend their positive run to nine matches in their bid to end their commitments in the runner-up spot after defeating rivals Birkirkara 2-1 last week.

Valletta defeated Balzan 2-0 in the first round but the second round clash ended in a 2-1 win for Balzan.