Tricky tests for Hibernians, Valletta

Hibernians take on Balzan and Valletta face rivals Hamrun Spartans in the two big matches from the BOV Premier League at the National Stadium on Monday – the final two matches before a three-week break for Christmas and the New Year.

In the first match, kick-off at 18:00, Hibernians cannot afford anything other than a win in order to regain the top spot. The Paolites registered eight wins on the trot, defeating Senglea 2-0 in their last outing. They lie one point behind leaders Gzira.

Balzan, on the other hand, earned seven points from their last three matches thanks to a win over Tarxien, a draw with Hamrun and another win over Sliema. They are currently sixth on 22 points, eight points behind Hibernians and nine behind Gzira.

Coach Marko Micovic could not field his best formation as Justin Grioli and Uros Ljubomirac serve a one-match ban.

Meanwhile in the second match, Valletta take on in-form Hamrun Spartans. The Citizens are currently third and seek a win to join Gzira on the 31-point mark while hoping that the Paolites fail to bag the three points. They are unbeaten in ten matches, maintaining a clean sheet in the last six games and are coming from a 2-1 win over Balzan in the BOV Super Cup.

Hamrun, on the other hand, share sixth place with Balzan. They are unbeaten in five matches, defeating neighbours Pietà Hotspurs 3-2 in their last outing.

Defender Orestis Nikolopoulos is ruled out as he was suspended for one match.