Valletta and Hibernians will be all out to claim victory in order to lift the coveted trophy of the BOV Premier League as the two teams cross swords in the Championship Decider at the National Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 16:30.
The two teams ended their commitments on level points following a 5-1 win for Hibernians over Balzan and a dramatic 1-1 stoppage-time equaliser for Hamrun Spartans which therefore denied Valletta the title.
This is the eighth time a decider was necessary to determine the championship. St. George’s defeated Sliema Wanderers 4-0 in 1916/17, Hamrun Spartans beat St. George’s 4-2 in 1917/18, Sliema Wanderers were awarded a walk-over against St. George’s in 1929/30, Sliema Wanderers were awarded another walk-over against Hibernians in 1932/33, Sliema Wanderers defeated St. George’s 2-1 in 1939/40, Sliema Wanderers beat Marsa 3-0 in 1970/71, Sliema Wanderers beat Floriana 2-0 in 1971/72 while in 2013/14, Birkirkara defeated Hibernians 3-1.
Valletta chase the 25th championship in the history of the club to emulate eternal rivals Floriana. They won five out of the last eight titles – back-to-back championships in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and then in 2013/14, 2015/16 and 2017/18. Hibernians, on the other hand, won the championship twelve times – the last time being in 2016/17. In the last five years, the Premier League title was always an issue of these two clubs with the Paolites also emerging as winners in 2014/15.
This season, Hibernians defeated Valletta 2-1 in the first round but the Citizens registered a 2-1 win in the second round.
Valletta had the best forward line and best defence this season – scoring 61 and conceding just 18 goals. On the other hand, Hibernians scored 54 and conceded 27.
City coach Gilbert Agius will be unable to field his best formation due to the absence of two players serving a suspension – Raed Ibrahim Saleh and Joseph Zerafa. Hibernians, on the other hand, should be in full strength apart from Jurgen Degabriele.
The two teams will be meeting once again on Wednesday in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy at the National Stadium, kick-off at 18:30.