Preview Day 16 Valletta vs Floriana Published on: 01-02-2020

Valletta vs Floriana

Derbies between Valletta and Floriana have always attracted a lot of attention given the huge rivalry
that exists between two of most successful clubs in Maltese football.
 
But the fact that both Floriana and Valletta are well engage in this season’s title race adds further spice to this clash with both sides keen to pick up all three points to further strengthen their aspirations of winning this year’s league championship.
 
Leaders Floriana enter the derby with somewhat a psychological edge over Valletta as with a fivepoint advantage over their neighbouring rivals, a win tomorrow would all but end the Citizens hopes of winning a third successive league title.
 
But given Valletta’s pedigree in title challenges, it would be foolish for the Greens to underestimate the
Citizens in tomorrow’s showdown, coach Vincenzo Potenza said. “We are aware that we are facing
a very strong team,” Potenza said.
 
“Valleta have won six of the last seven domestic trophies, won the Premier League in the last two seasons, have several Malta international players in their fold and their foreign players are of high level too, so that tells you a lot on the task we have on our hands.
 
“We may not have their experience in title matches but that is only gained by playing such matches and the derby is a good learning curve for my team. I hope that they keep good control of their nerves and play their game. I have a lot of faith in my players who have fought a lot in recent months to take the team in such a good position in the table.
 
“I’m blessed to have a president and a committee who are firmly behind the team and the fans have also been fantastic. We just hope to be able to provide them with great memories in the next few weeks.
“We just have to be patient and approach one match at a time. In the end it will be the pitch that will
decide who deserves to be crowned champions.”
 
Potenza, who returns to the team’s dug-out after serving suspension, has no injury worries and is boosted with two new players after the club signed Brazilian wing back Marcelo Dias from Senglea Athletic and Italian attacking midfielder Stefano D’Agostino.
 
The Floriana coach said that it will be important for his players to try not to be affected by the potential repercussions tomorrow’s match could have on their title ambitions and focus on trying to play their usual game.
 
“In the last few days we have prepared a lot to be ready for the match,” Potenza said. “It’s important that the players make sure they are not affected by the repercussions the match result could have on our title aspirations.
 
“The most important thing is that we remain tactically disciplined and play our game. If we win, draw or lose, nothing will change much as there are still a lot of matches still to be played.
 
“We have to be ourselves because this is a massive match.” Valletta, on their part, are approaching this derby with renewed optimism, particularly before they are passing through a rich vein in form which has seen them unbeaten in their last ten matches.
 
Matteo Piciollo, the Valletta striker, is confident that the Citizens will deliver the goods in what he described as a ‘special’ match.
 
“This is a fundamental match four our hopes of winning a third successive title,” the former Floriana striker said.
 
“It will surely be a very tough match as Floriana are a very good team who are passing through a good spell of form. But we too are in rich vein of form. In the last two years we have shown that we are capable of delivering when needed most and in fact we managed to win several honours.
 
“It’s a match that will be full of emotions and being played by two teams who are challenging for the
title makes it even more special.
 
There is great motivation among our group to win this match.”
 
Valletta coach Darren Abdilla is hopeful of having goalkeeper Henry Bonello fit for this match after missing out the FA Trophywin over Sirens last weekend.
 
The Citizens yesterday continued to strengthen their striking options when they brought in French striker David Faupala. The 22-yearold put pen to paper to a deal until the end of the season. However, it looks unlikely that he will be involved in tomorrow’s derby.
 
Valletta are aware that being five points adrift of the league leaders, they have little room for error but
Piciollo says that all the pressure is on Floriana.
 
“There are two facets on how one can look at it,” Piciollo said when asked whether they felt added  ressure to win the match.
 
“In my opinion, Floriana have more to lose than us because if we win the match, we will reopen the title race. For us, we know that we are heading into this big match with one mindset – to win the match at all costs. To attain this goal you need to be a very strong team but Valletta have shown in recent years that they are capable of delivering in big matches.

Our 
squad is full of players with huge character and we will battle till the last minute to reach our objective.”
First round result: Valletta vs Floriana 1-1.

Source: times of malta