Preview - Day 23 Valletta vs Sliema W Published on: 24-02-2017

The BOV Premier league enters into its final stretch when the third round gets under way with the first matches between today and tomorrow.
Leaders Hibernians start the final round of matches when they face Ħamrun spartans tomorrow.
But this evening second-placed Balzan will have the chance to regain top spot with victory over bottom-placed Mosta while Valletta will look to keep up the pressure on the Premier league pacesetters
when they face sliema Wanderers in what promises to be a tricky fixture for the defending champions (kick-off: 20.00).
Valletta will hope to repeat the vibrant second-half performance which saw them overcome Ħamrun spartans 2-0 in their last league outing a fortnight ago as they look to step up their quest of successfully retaining the league crown come next may.
Paul Zammit, the Valletta coach, said given the nature of this year’s championship, where every team is capable of upsetting any other side, his players had little margin for error if they are to remain in the title race.
“every match from now till the end of the season will be decisive on who will win this year’s championship,”
Zammit told Times of Malta yesterday.
“our approach is quite simple… we have 11 finals ahead of us and we have to give equal importance
to all our rivals.
“sliema have shown this season that they are a very dangerous team, particularly against the top
teams, and they will surely be relishing the chance of getting a positive result against us.
“it’s important that the players give their 100 per cent as a slip in form in this decisive stage of the season will surely see us bow out of the title race.”
Valletta come into the match the fresher side as their early elimination from the fa trophy provided them with a week break to recharge all their energies.
Zammit has almost the same squad that featured against Ħamrun spartans earlier this month with Brazilian defender Juan Cruz Gill ruled out with a muscle injury.
The Valletta coach said that he was heartened by his team’s more direct approach in attack against Ħamrun and hopes to see more of the same against the Wanderers.
“The departures of Federico Falcone and Jhonnattann and the injury to Michael Mifsud left us with a huge void in attack,” the City mentor conceded.
“We did bring in two new strikers but they needed a lot of time to adapt to the new environs. in the last few weeks we worked hard on the training pitch to try and introduce new systems to ensure we bring the best out of our players and we saw some encouraging signs against Ħamrun.
“Hopefully, the team can kick on from that match and our performances will grow stronger and stronger every week.”
Sliema go into this evening’s match in high spirits as they followed their impressive win over previous league leaders Balzan by booking their place in the FA Trophy semi-finals after a penalty shoot-out victory over Senglea Athletic and stay in the hunt for a place in european football via the cup competition.
Brian said, Sliema’s team manager, said that the Wanderers were looking forward to keep up the momentum generated by their recent victories with a good showing against the Malta champions.
“We may have fallen behind in the race for a European berth via the league championship but we
still want to end our campaign with a strong run,” the former Sliema defender said.
“the fact that our team always tends to produce its best football against the so-called the big guns is an encouraging sign when heading to a match against the defending champions.
“Valletta will surely be very tough clients for us as they cannot afford to drop any points but we are very confident in our ability.
“The last two matches have been very positive for us and I hope the players rise to the occasion and try and get another positive result that can kickstart a consistent run of results.”

Source - Times of Malta