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Floriana’s top status put to test against in-form Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk's Duane Bonnici (left) scores a goal against Sta Lucia. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Floriana’s title ambitions will be put under severe test this weekend when they face third-placed Marsaxlokk at the National Stadium on Sunday (kick-off: 4.15pm).

The Greens, under the charge of Mauro Camoranesi, have been the most in-form side in the top flight in recent weeks as four wins from their last five matches have propelled them to the top of the Premier League standings, three clear of champions Ħamrun Spartans.

Floriana have been ruthless in their recent outings as despite not playing their best football, their resilience and physical fitness have enabled them to strike late in matches and return home with the three points in the bag as happened against Valletta and Sliema Wanderers.

However, the Greens are set for a delicate test on Sunday as they face a Marsaxlokk team who have also grown in stature in recent weeks and seem to hold all the necessary characteristics to challenge for at least a place in European football next season.

In fact, Winston Muscat’s team have won three of their last four matches, with their only upset in this run coming against Ħamrun Spartans.

Muscat told the Times of Malta that while they are aware that they are going against one of the best teams in the division he has no doubt that his team are more than capable of matching the Premier League leaders.

“It’s a tough match against the Premier League leaders,” Muscat said.

“Floriana are the team that scored the highest number of goals in the Premier League so far and also boast the best defence, and that is enough to tell you how strong they are.

“But despite all this, I firmly believe that we are more than capable of matching their strong qualities during a match. Football matches are won and lost according to key moments and episodes and we need to be brave enough to try and make the most of the opportunities that will come our way.

“The team is playing very well and I believe that we have enough skill in our team to win against anyone.”

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Muscat is in his first season at Marsaxlokk FC and the former Sirens coach said that the thing that pleases him most about his team is the fact that his players are capable of transferring what they work on in midweek on matchday.

“There are many things on which I am happy about my team at the moment,” Muscat said.

“I am pleased to see my team play good football. There is a specific football philosophy we want to implement and we are showing that. We work hard in training during the week and it’s great to see that what we work on, we can replicate during matches.

“There are still a lot of things we need to improve but without a doubt, we are on the right path.”

Marsaxlokk are currently third in the standings on 19 points, seven adrift on Floriana, and a win tomorrow could see them become dark horses in this season’s title race.

Asked whether they feel any pressure to win on Sunday, Muscat said: “No, all the pressure will be on Floriana. We will start the match as the underdogs and Floriana could be more under pressure if Ħamrun Spartans beat Santa Lucia in the opening match of the day.

“We need to be very positive and go out on the pitch with our eyes set on playing our best football. This season there were matches where we deserved more, such as against Ħamrun where we lost due to an inexistent penalty, and other matches where we were careless and ended up dropping points.

“But now we have to focus on Sunday’s match and make sure we play the best we can and see what happens.”

Standings provided by Sofascore

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