Ħamrun Spartans were handed a tough start to their title defence as they face their neighbouring rivals Valletta FC and Birkirkara in the opening two Match-Days as the draws of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign were made on Friday at the Malta FA offices.
Last season, the Spartans ended a 30-year-wait to be crowned as Malta champions for the eighth time in their history.
Mark Buttigieg’s men face a very difficult start to their campaign as they open their campaign against their traditional rivals Valletta on the opening day of the season, scheduled for August 12.
The clash will bring back old memories of the huge rivalry that existed between the two clubs in the 1980s and 1990s.
Incidentally, it will also see Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello, who has agreed a move to Ħamrun Spartans on Friday, to face his old club on the opening day of the season.
Then the Reds will be up against Birkirkara on the second day of the season.
The Stripes open their campaign against Mosta FC in a clash between two teams who represented Malta in the UEFA Conference League.
Another mouthwatering clash for MatchDay 1 is the clash between Hibernians and Gżira United, two teams who were the main challengers for Ħamrun Spartans for the Premier League title crown.
Balzan will kick off their season against Sliema Wanderers while Floriana take on Sta Lucia FC, the surprise package of the 2020-21 season.
The other opening day fixture pits against each other Gudja United and Sirens FC.
The 2021-22 Premier League championship is being played on a new format after the number of participants have gone down from 16 to 12 after no Challenge League teams were promoted following the COVID-19 stoppage.
In fact, the championship will be played over three rounds, with all 12 play teams facing each other on a round robin format before the championship will be split into two sections with the top six teams forming the Championship Pool and the bottom six playing in the Relegation Pool which will be played over one round.
The Premier League championship will get under way on August 12 and will come to a close on April 30.
The league winner will represent Malta in the Champions League while the teams finishing second and third will compete in the UEFA Conference League.
Mosta vs Birkirkara
Gudja United vs Sirens FC
Ħamrun Spartans vs Valletta FC
Gżira United vs Hibernians
Balzan FC vs Sliema W.
Floriana vs Santa Lucia