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Consistency the key as Valletta take on Birkirkara

Valletta striker Mario Fontanella (right) moves past Clayton Failla. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Valletta and Birkirkara will step up their chase of runaway leaders Hibernians when the two big rivals go head to head at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kick-off: 16.00).

After a topsy-turvy start to the season, the Citizens have managed to steady their ship and in recent weeks, they have gone on a run of results that has seen them climb up to second place in the standings, five points adrift of leaders Hibernians.

On the other hand, Birkirkara have enjoyed a brisk start to the campaign, but their form suffered a significant dip in recent weeks which saw them drift six points behind the Paolites.

Saturday’s match will certainly be the perfect opportunity for both sides to stake their claim to earn the status as the main challengers to the Paolites for this season’s title crown.

Jose Antonio Cardoso Mendes, the Valletta coach, told the Times of Malta that he is pleased with the improvement shown by his team in recent weeks but said that today’s match was the perfect opportunity for his players to show that they are ready to challenge for the major honours.

“This is a very important match for us for many reasons,” Cardoso Mendes said.

“Like all other matches there are three points at stakes and we have to do all we can to

ensure we return home with all spoils at stake. Added to that, we are facing one of the club’s biggest rivals in Birkirkara and we are bracing ourselves for a difficult match.

“Valletta and Birkirkara are very similar in how they play as they like to hold the ball a lot and they are very offensive which is great for the fans who will be watching the match.

“This is another opportunity for us to showcase our qualities and prove that we have improved a lot as a team.

“The most important thing for my team is that we continue to show consistency in our play. I was very pleased with what I saw from the players against Mosta but it’s important that we show the same spirit against Birkirkara.

“For us it’s the perfect opportunity to show that we are ready to battle with the best teams on the islands and I’m sure the players will be ready for this challenge.”

On his part, Andre Paus, the Birkirkara coach, said that he was pleased with his team’s reaction following unexpected defeats against Sirens and Sta Lucia and said that it was crucial for his players to approach every match with a high-level of intensity and concentration.

“We are aware of the difficult challenge awaiting us when facing a big team like Valletta,” Paus said.

“In recent weeks, our performances have not been the best. We lost against Sta Lucia and Sirens and to be honest, looking at what we produced on the field of play, we didn’t deserve any better.

“Against Sliema, the players have responded well, and we deservedly won the match. But now it’s important that we are more consistent. The players have to take every match very seriously because in the Maltese Premier League you can win and lose against any team.

“This season, I had the chance to watch Valletta many times and I believe that while they have a good team we do have the qualities in our squad to cause them a lot of problems so I’m confident that we can get the right result.

Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

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