Difficult Balzan test for leaders Hibernians as Valletta take on neighbours Floriana

The final round of matches before the Christmas break puts leaders Hibernians against second-placed Balzan and third-placed Valletta against fourth-placed Floriana in the two matches in programme at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Hibernians are unbeaten in ten matches but dropped two important points in a 1-1 draw with bottom-placed Pembroke Athleta last week. Balzan failed to join them on top following an entertaining 2-2 draw with Valletta while Floriana extended their positive run to eight matches although they were a bit disappointed to be held in a 1-1 draw with Tarxien Rainbows.

In the first match, the Paolites need a positive result to enjoy the Christmas break on top the BOV Premier League table. Balzan, on the other hand, eye a win after losing to Floriana and a draw with Valletta. A win which would put them one point ahead of Hibernians.

Both sides will be unable to field their best formation as Samir Arab and Alan da Silva Souza are ruled out through suspension while Justin Grioli is still recovering from an injury for Balzan while Hibernians could not count on the suspended Renan Pimenta Telles and the injured Clayton Failla. However Jorginho could be back for Mark Miller’s side.

Balzan defeated Hibernians 2-0 in the first round.

Meanwhile in the second match, Valletta will be eager to revenge their first round 0-2 defeat against eternal rivals Floriana.

Ignacio Varela will be back for Floriana after serving a one-match ban but Amadou Samb is ruled out injured. Valletta have no suspended players but coach Paul Zammit hopes a number of players recover from slight injuries. Ian Azzopardi and Jurgen Suda are no longer available for VAlletta after moving on loan to Gzira and Pietà respectively.