After defeating Gzira United 2-1 in a direct clash last week, leaders Hamrun Spartans face another tough test as they take on second-placed Hibernians at the National Stadium in one of six matches from the BOV Premier League in programme on Saturday.
The Spartans lie two points ahead of the Paolites and therefore a win would put them five points clear. On the other hand, should Hibs win, they would move top, one point ahead of the Spartans. A draw would keep Hamrun two points clear.
Both sides maintained an unbeaten streak for a number of weeks. Hamrun won their last six matches and are unbeaten in seventeen matches. Hibernians also won their last six matches and are unbeaten in ten matches.
In the first round, Hibs and Hamrun shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
Also at the National Stadium, Sliema Wanderers and Gzira United will both be all out to bounce back from defeats as they face each other in the derby.
After dropping six points in three draws from the previous four matches, Sliema suffered a heavy 1-5 defeat to Balzan last week and now lie fifth, four points behind Birkirkara and eight behind Gzira. The Maroons, on the other hand, suffered a first defeat after eight successive wins and now lie five points behind Hibernians and seven behind Hamrun.
Gzira’s Jackson Mendoza and Maxuell Maia and Sliema’s Edmond Agius are ruled out through suspension.
In the first round, Gzira defeated Sliema 3-2.
At the Hibernians Stadium, Floriana take on Balzan in a clash between two teams eager for points in their bid to climb out of the danger zone.
Floriana are currently tenth on 26 points. After back-to-back wins over Senglea and Gudja, they lost 0-2 to Birkirkara last week. However those two wins were their only wins in thirteen matches. Balzan are joint-fourth from bottom on 23 points, three behind Floriana. They defeated Sliema 5-1 last week – their second win in four matches.
Balzan could not count on the suspended Stefan Dimic.
The first round clash ended in a goalless draw.
In another match at the Hibernians Stadium, Santa Lucia face Lija Athletic.
Santa Lucia suffered back-to-back defeats to Valletta and Mosta in their last two outings. This was the third defeat in five matches for Oliver Spiteri’s side and they are currently eighth on 29 points. Lija, on the other hand, are second from bottom on 17 points. They lost three out of their last seven matches but held Sirens in a 1-1 draw last week.
In the first match at the Centenary Stadium, Tarxien Rainbows face Birkirkara.
Three wins in four matches lifted Tarxien’s spirits although they are still third from bottom on 21 points. On the other hand, Birkirkara won five out of the last seven matches and are currently fourth from bottom.
Birkirkara’s Claudio Bonanni and Tarxien’s Carlos Conceicao are ruled out through suspension.
Birkirkara defeated Tarxien 3-0 in the first round.
In another match at the Centenary Stadium, Mosta are firm favourites to collect the three points as they take on Senglea Athletic.
The Blues share the sixth place with Valletta on 33 points. After losing five consecutive matches, Mosta claimed seven points from the last three matches as they defeated Gudja and Santa Lucia and shared the spoils in a draw with Sirens. On the other hand, Senglea lost the last thirteen matches are remain at the bottom of the table with just two points.
Mosta will be without the suspended Christoffer Mafoumbi, Christ Ememe and Zachary Brincat.
In the first round, Mosta defeated Senglea 3-1.
All matches are being played behind closed doors but fans are able to watch games thanks to the live-streaming service being offered by the Malta Football Association at https://live.mfa.com.mt/ apart from the usual two weekly matches which are broadcast on TVM 2 and/or TSN.