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Do or die as Floriana face Valletta in crucial derby in Premier League

Floriana’s Ulises Arias (left) in a duel with Nikolai Muscat. Photo: Dominic Borg

Maltese football fans are set for another enthralling weekend of BOV Premier League football as the title duel between Floriana and Ħamrun Spartans could be set for a crucial chapter while Valletta and Mosta’s hopes of salvation face a decisive test between Saturday and Sunday.

The plum fixture of the weekend is without a doubt the derby between Floriana and Valletta who face off in Saturday’s opening match at the National Stadium.

The match finds these two rivals in largely contrasting situations as, on one hand, Floriana are currently leading the way and two points clear of Ħamrun Spartans, and are five matches away from winning the Premier League title.

On the other hand, Valletta are passing through one of the worst campaigns in the Maltese top flight and are facing a real prospect of suffering relegation for the first time in their club’s history.

Floriana head into the match in great form after winning all their recent four league matches in some style, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one.

Last weekend, they remained on course for a league and cup double when they eased past Marsaxlokk 2-0 to secure their place in the FA Trophy semi-finals.

No doubt, Mauro Camoranesi’s men will fancy their chances of overcoming Valletta this afternoon and move a step closer to this season’s Premier League title.

However, they will surely be aware that in derbies current form could be thrown out of the window and they face a Valletta team who are desperate for the three points to keep alive their flickering hopes of salvation.

The Citizens have not won a league match since defeating Sirens 3-0 on January 28 and find themselves five points away from safety with just five matches left.

Undoubtedly, Valletta will need the support of their fans as they try to stay alive in this year’s relegation battle.

Ħamrun Spartans will be interested spectators as the Malta champions will be hoping the Greens drop points in their derby fixture and get a chance to pounce with victory over Birkirkara tomorrow.

However, the Spartans enter this fixture at a very dark time in their season. Knocked out by the same Birkirkara from the FA Trophy last weekend, and trailing Floriana by two points, the Reds are aware that they need to win their next five league matches if they are to save their season by retaining their Premier League crown.

Luciano Zauri, the Spartans coach, is heading into this fixture without some important personnel as goalkeeper Henry Bonello is out after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury while Steve Borg has a muscle strain. Striker Uros Duranovic is also out as he must serve a two-match ban.

Zauri will be hoping his players can show their real character and secure a crucial win that would keep them in the race for this year’s title crown.

Birkirkara, on their part, are on cloud nine after reaching the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and will fancy their chances of piling more misery on their opponents with a win that would keep them still on course for a top-four finish.

At the other end of the standings, fourth-from-bottom Mosta face a decisive clash against Santa Lucia.

The Blues will have no margin of error against a Santa Lucia team who are just two points above them and outside the relegation zone.

A win for the Saints would see them take a crucial five-point advantage over the same Blues and no doubt push them closer to avoiding the dreaded drop for a second successive season.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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