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Floriana look to stay ahead as race for top-six enters decisive stage

Leaders Floriana face Sirens in a bid to preserve top spot. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The BOV Premier League is set for some crucial matchups as the battle for top spot and the race for a Championship Pool berth reaches a crucial stage this weekend.

With just two matches left until the end of the first phase, Floriana and Hibernians will continue their battle for supremacy this weekend while Ħamrun Spartans, Gżira United, Sirens and Gudja United will be in search of valuable points to secure a top-six placing.

Leaders Floriana will be looking to preserve their top-placing in the standings for a second successive week when they take on Sirens tomorrow at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The Greens are on a roll as four successive wins have propelled Gianluca Atzori’s troops at the top of the Premier League standings, one point clear of Hibernians.

Floriana will surely be bracing themselves for a tricky match against a Sirens side who are battling to push their way into the Championship Pool and will have to do without defender Oualid El Hasni and wingback Ryan Camenzuli who must serve a one-match ban.

The St Paul’s Bay outfit have struggled for consistency lately as they head into their match against the league leaders with just one win to show from their last five matches.

No doubt they will need to step up their game by several notches against the in-form Greens if they are to pick up any points and retain their sixth-placing in the standings.

In fact, a defeat to Floriana could see Sirens being leapfrogged in the standings by a rejuvenated Gudja United side who are currently just one point behind the St Paul’s Bay side.

Hibernians have the opportunity to regain top spot in the Premier League for at least 24 hours when they face struggling Balzan this afternoon.

Stefano Sanderra’s Paolites lost their prime status in the standings for the first time this season last weekend when they could only manage a goalless draw against a ten-man Ħamrun Spartans.

The Paolites will surely be kicking themselves at their failure of breaking down a Ħamrun side who played for more than an hour with a player less. Their profligacy in front of goal must have left coach Sanderra frustrated and he will demand much better standards against Balzan.

Still, Hibernians, who will be boosted by the return of key defensive duo Andrei Agius and Leandro Almeida, will be wary of the threat posed by Balzan who are keen to mount a late push for a top-six placing.

Last weekend, Balzan grabbed their first win after five successive defeats and will be desperate to pick up points to at least increase their gap from the bottom two places should they fail to clinch a top-six placing which at present seems difficult.

Gudja United will open the league proceedings this afternoon with a clash against a direct rival for a Championship Pool berth when they face Gżira United at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The southerners have been the form team in 2022 with last weekend’s defeat to Floriana coming after two successive league victories.

Thane Micallef’s team would take a giant step towards a remarkable place in the top six with victory over Gżira United.

The Maroons will be determined to put behind them last week’s disappointing showing against Mosta which saw them forfeit a 3-1 first-half lead to suffer a 4-3 defeat.

To add insult to injury, they also lost their influential midfielder Jackson Mendoza to a long-term ankle injury while striker Maxuell Maia is suspended.

Coach Darren Abdilla will surely hope for a reaction from his players as they seek to pick up three points that would push them closer to a top-six place.

Ħamrun Spartans also need to get back to winning ways against Sta Lucia tomorrow if they are to find themselves in danger of missing out on a top-six placing.

The Reds are currently fourth on 29 points, three clear of seventh-placed Gudja United and nothing short of a win will do against second-from-bottom Sta Lucia.

Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

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