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Naxxar Lions and Balzan face off in relegation duel

Balzan's Jan Busuttil (left) tries to move past Paul Mbong. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Relegation rivals Naxxar Lions and Balzan will kickstart another absorbing weekend of Premier League football as the battle for the title, European football qualification and to avoid the drop are reaching a decisive stage with each week that passes.

Results in the past fortnight have certainly turned this season’s championship as one of the most unpredictable in recent years.

With four teams set to lose their top-flight status this season has inevitably turned up the pressure at the bottom end of the standings with no less than six teams fighting to stay in the Premier League next term.

Naxxar Lions, buoyed by last weekend’s 2-0 win over Hibernians, will hope to further distance themselves when they take on Balzan at the Centenary Stadium this evening.

There are just two points separating the Lions, who are on the 24-point mark, and Balzan, who are sharing fourth from bottom with Santa Lucia.

Naxxar’s win over Hibernians last week was a major boost for George Vella’s team who ended a dire run of four defeats in a row.

But despite this fine result, Naxxar will be aware that victory in today’s match is crucial so that they continue to distance themselves from the relegation zone.

On the other hand, Balzan will be desperate to get back to winning ways after three draws and one defeat in the last four outings have left them hovering just above the relegation zone.

The Reds’ major problem this season is their struggle to convert their scoring chances, leaving the team relying too much on their January signing Jan Busuttil who provided some crucial goals in recent weeks.

Valletta, currently third from bottom, must end their winless streak when they face Gżira United on Sunday.

The Citizens impressed with their gutsy display that earned them a 1-1 draw against champions Ħamrun Spartans.

However, with the majority of their relegation rivals picking up points last weekend, the Citizens’ position have become more precarious and they need to start picking up wins quickly if they to reignite their hopes of avoiding what would be a shock relegation.

Gżira United will be tough clients for Valletta as the Maroons may have well lost to Sliema Wanderers last Sunday but have shown in recent weeks that they surely have the quality to move clear of the red zone.  

Mosta, buoyed by their win over Marsaxlokk, face another tough test against leaders Ħamrun Spartans who will be hellbent to get back to winning ways after dropping four points in the past fortnight that saw their nearest rivals Floriana bridge the gap to just one point.

Floriana can go top tomorrow when they face second-from-bottom Sirens who look destined to return to the Challenge League next season.

The Greens have been in prolific form and should hold too much firepower for Sirens.

Marsaxlokk and Birkirkara, who are level on 29 points, will battle for fourth spot when they go head to head in the main match tomorrow at the National Stadium.

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