Top spot at stake on Sunday afternoon

The top spot will be at stake once again on Sunday evening as four out of the top five teams will be in action at the National Stadium.

In the first match, leaders Balzan will be all out to revenge their first round defeat to Birkirkara in their bid to stay top. Oliver Spiteri’s side defeated Hibernians and Gzira with identical 2-1 scores in their last two outings and another win against the Stripes would ensure that whatever the result of the second game, they would stay on track to reaching their objective of celebrating their 80th anniversary in style with a first major honour.

However Birkirkara, who lie seven points behind Balzan, cannot afford dropping much points if they aim to stay in the race for the championship. After winning just one out of the last six games of 2016, the Stripes started the new year on a positive note with two wins over lowly Mosta and Birkirkara.

Balzan are expected to have new signing Milos Lepovic making his debut. They also welcome back Elkin Serrano and Bojan Kaljevic but Alfred Effiong is still ruled out through suspension. Birkirkara, on the other hand, should be in full strength with Scottish midfielder Gary Muir possibly making his first appearance after joining the club from Sliema.

In the first round, Birkirkara defeated Balzan 3-0.

Meanwhile in the second match, Hibernians take on in-form Floriana.

The Paolites lost 1-2 to Balzan before the Christmas break but their narrow win over Valletta last week, apart from moving to just one point behind Balzan, showed that they have all the credentials to be among the main challengers for the title.

However their task on Sunday will be no easy one as they face a Floriana side, unbeaten in ten matches, aiming at moving even closer to the top. A win would put them once again in third place, one point behind the Paolites.

Floriana welcome back Steve Pisani after serving a one-match ban. On the other hand, earlier this week, Hibs signed Gambian striker Momodou Salieu Jallow who was not retained by Gzira after a short spell at the club and 21-year old midfielder Montell Moore who was on the books of Charlton Athletic. These two players are therefore set to make their debut for the Paolites.

In the first round, Floriana and Hibs shared the spoils in a goalless draw.