Derby dominance means nothing says Citys Zammit Published on: 17-10-2015
The big match for Valletta and Floriana has arrived as the two sporting antagonists clash in the opening derby of the season with championship football back following the international break.
For the two teams, victory holds special significance and goes beyond the three points at stake.
At present, just two points separate second-placed Valletta from Floriana in fifth position and although these are still early days in the Premier League trek both sets of supporters are treating this match as if it was a final and a fixture that could define their season.
Valletta hold a clear edge in head-to-head records, enjoying a long-time dominance over the Greens where league encounters are considered.
In fact, the last time Floriana beat City in the championship dates back to August 27, 2007 when two goals from Christian Caruana and another from Adrian Mifsud handed the Greens a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Paul Zammit was in charge of that Valletta team eight years ago and needs no reminding of how important this match is for the City supporters who, he says, expect nothing less than victory to claim bragging rights for the day.
“This is the match the fans eagerly await,” Zammit said.
“Past results and favourable statistics are almost irrelevant when the derby comes up. It has been like that for generations. There’s always pressure but we have to turn that pressure into added motivation.”
Valletta and Floriana have taken a similar path this season, Zammit said.
“Like Floriana, we’re in a rebuilding process,” he added.
“Floriana seem to be going from strength to strength. Their performance in the 3-0 win over Sliema Wanderers was particularly impressive so it’s not only us that have to be wary of their threat.
“Valletta, too, are producing good football lately and if we maintain the same kind of play this could be some game.”
Zammit is boosted by the return from suspension of Brazilian right-back Romeu Romau.
The City coach must check on the fitness of Juan Cruz Gill, who fractured his nose in a friendly against Gżira United last week, and striker Jhonnattann. The Bra-zilian is close to recover from a wrist injury.
Luis Oliveira has no selection problems as he gears up for his first derby as Floriana coach.
The former Belgium international has been briefed about the rivalry that exists between the two clubs and is urging his players to end their poor run against Valletta.
“I may be relatively new to Maltese football but I can assure you that I’ve heard a lot about this match and how important it is for our club,” Oliveira told Times of Malta yesterday.
“I’ve been told it’s been eight years since Floriana have last beaten Valletta in the championship and the club is eager to end this jinx.
“All we are thinking of is to win this match and give our supporters something to cheer about.”
After an indifferent start to the season, Floriana picked up momentum as they have won four of their last five matches to keep in touch with the top teams in the standings.
“I’m really satisfied with the work carried out by my players in the last few weeks,” Oliveira said.
“Our performances have been growing steadily with every match but it’s almost crucial for us to keep this high level of consistency and stay in the running for a place in Europe.
“Valletta is a huge challenge for us. We saw them in action a few times and they have some great players in the team... they can hurt you at any moment.
“Tactical discipline will be key to get a good result from the derby on Sunday (tomorrow).”
Source - Times of malta