Birkirkara, Valletta cross swords in delicate encounter

Rivals Birkirkara and Valletta will be all out to claim the three points on Saturday as they cross swords in one of the two BOV Premier League matches in programme at the National Stadium.

Two draws and a defeat in the last four matches for Valletta and two defeats and a draw in the last five matches for Birkirkara saw the two teams lose ground to leaders Balzan and second-placed Hibernians. In fact, Floriana joined the Citizens in third place on the 33-point mark, four points behind Hibs and five behind the leaders while Birkirkara are fifth on 31.

In their last league outing, Valletta failed to impress in a narrow win over Gzira. Then on Wednesday, they were eliminated from the FA Trophy after losing 0-1 to Balzan despite playing for long stretches against ten men. Birkirkara are coming from three positive results after two wins over Mosta and Pembroke and a 1-1 draw with leaders Balzan last week.

Rowen Muscat is ruled out for Valletta as he serves a one-match ban after being sent off in the FA Trophy fourth round match against Balzan. However Tomas Radzinevicius will be back after missing the last league game due to suspension. Birkirkara, on the other hand, should be in full strength.

In the first round, Valletta and Birkirkara shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Meanwhile in the first match, Balzan will be hoping to extend the lead on top as they take on St. Andrews.

Balzan were held in a 1-1 draw by Birkirkara last week but on Wednesday secured a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy after defeating Valletta 1-0.

The Saints, on the other hand, are unbeaten in the last five league matches after a win over Hamrun and draws with Tarxien, Sliema, Mosta and Pembroke. However on Wednesday, they suffered a shock elimination from the FA Trophy after losing to SK Victoria Wanderers.

Ivan Edgardo Paz is ruled out for St. Andrews as he serves a one-match ban but they welcome back Bong Won Che. Balzan, on the other hand, are expected to be in full strength.

In the first round, Balzan defeated St. Andrews 3-0.