For many people in the USA the ‘big game’ taking place on Sunday 2nd February is Super Bowl 2020. However, for followers of the BOV Premier League it’s all about the clash of reigning champions Valletta and current league leaders Floriana.
Here we take a look at the areas where the match could be won and lost.
Can Floriana thwart Fontanella?
Floriana currently hold a five point advantage over their opponent – and four over second placed Hibernians – and, regardless of the fact they’re the home side, that could well see them approach the game with the view to avoiding defeat rather than taking the game to Valletta.
If that is indeed how they plan to get the better of Valletta, then the key will be whether or not they can find a way of handling their former forward Mario Fontanella. Fontanella is an experienced head up the top end of the pitch and his game is all about his attacking instincts and clever movements, which regularly means he’ll create at least one chance for himself in the game.
The likely battle will be between the Italian forward and centre half Enzo Ruiz – who recently made his 100th appearance for Floriana. Ruiz, like Fontanella, is no youngster and his defensive capabilities centre around his reading of the game and his physical attributes – particularly in aerial duels.
If Ruiz can come out on top, and we expect him to, then it’s hard to see Valletta leaving Ta’ Qali with anything more than a point – if that.
What about Floriana’s attack?
Where Valletta are overly reliant on one man to grab their goals, Floriana don’t have such concerns with a few sources of goals in their side. Tiago Adan is one man who will be a thorn in the Valletta backline all day with his desire to chase lost causes and hold up play likely to frustrate the away following, especially if the match is a tight affair.
Adan missed the reverse tie earlier in the season, which ended in a 1-1 draw, but after three goals in his last four outings he’ll be high on confidence come Sunday. The same also applies to his teammate, Kristian Keqi.
Keqi only arrived in Malta a year ago and despite only being 23 years old he is the player that makes Floriana tick with sharp passing and an eye for goal. Besides that, the youngster has enough pace to rival a stallion in the Kentucky Derby horse race.
On the tactical board, Valletta will likely aim to nullify Keqi with a man-marker, which is potentially a role that will be filled by recent addition Triston Caruana. The difficulty being that no team has managed to keep the little technician quiet yet as he’s been involved – on average – in a goal every game with 10 goals and five assists so far this campaign.
We believe the match will be a cagey affair, however, whilst Floriana will be satisfied with a draw the same cannot be said for Valletta who are in desperate need of a win to keep the pressure on at the top of the league.
With that in mind, we think Darren Abdilla’s men will begin to push for a winner as time ticks on and that will afford more space to Floriana’s attacking talent and they’ll steal the points. 1-0.