Preview Day 19: Valletta vs Floriana Published on: 23-01-2016



The FA Trophy defeat to Birkirkara was a setback for Valletta but the BOV Premier League pacesetters
had no time to ponder on their cup exit as they take on arch-rivals Floriana this afternoon.
 
Now firmly entrenched as one of the toughest outfits in the Premier League, Floriana will be hoping
that the loss to Birkirkara has dampened Valletta’s morale as they look to end their long, excruciating
wait for a win in the derby, but Paul Zammit, the City coach, believes that his team can derive a lot of positives from their midweek showing.
 
“Without detracting from the merits of Birkirkara, who had a good game, our performance was very heartening,” Zammit said of Wednesday’s FA Trophy match which was decided by a 62nd-minute goal from Ryan Camenzuli.
 
“We were very disciplined tactically but we paid the price for not punishing our opponents in the final third.
 
“There were a number of instances when we could hurt Birkirkara but we came up against a strong goalkeeper and a welldrilled defence.
 
“Although we are disappointed about our elimination from the FA Trophy, we are comforted by the
knowledge that the team’s performance was very good.
 
“The players gave everything. “I believe that we have good reason to stay positive. Since the start of the season, our team has consistently raised its performance level and this steady progress means that
we can continue to look upward and forward.”
 
Floriana’s high-octane approach makes them awkward customers as many top-flight teams have discovered to their cost this season. Zammit has a lot of respect for the Greens. “I believe that, today, there is not more to say about Floriana because they have proved that they are a very competitive team,” Zammit said.
 
“Apart from the opposition’s strength, this game has an extra edge because it’s a derby. “This is like another cup tie for us, the third this week as first we had to contend with a valid Tarxien team, on Wednesday we faced Birkirkara in the Trophy, and tomorrow (today) we have another crunch match against Floriana.
 
“Although it’s normal for the players to suffer from fatigue, both physically and mentally, we had prepared well for this week. “The derby aspect doubles the significance of this fixture. It means a lot for us, the players, the club and of course the fans.”
 
Ian Azzopardi returns from suspension for Valletta who on Wednesday completed the signing of striker Michael Mifsud while Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza left to join G─žajnsielem.
 
While Zammit has been striving to raise his players’ spirits, Floriana coach Luis Oliveira enjoyed a hassle-free build-up after his team followed up their win over Sliema Wanderers with a 2-1 victory over
Division One side Lija Athletic in the FA Trophy.
 
The Belgian coach insisted that his team can’t afford to make mistakes if they are to break their derby
jinx in the league. “We are very motivated,” Oliveira told Times of Malta. “Advancing to the quarter-finals
of the cup is a good thing for the club but we are now fully focused on the derby, a match where we
can’t afford to make mistakes.
 
“Valletta will be angry after going out of the FA Trophy but we are also determined to win because we lost
against them in the first round. “Episodes decided that game but there’s no point dwelling on the
past. This is a different game and we can give a lot. We will set out to win but it’s important not to lose.”
Oliveira is concerned about the fitness of Italian defender Andrea Scozzese while left-back Jurgen
Pisani is recovering from cruciate surgery. The return of regular goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona
is a boost for the Greens who are fourth in the table, six points behind Valletta.
 
Given the ferocious rivalry between the two clubs, an electric atmosphere is expected at today’s derby. Oliveira called on the Floriana fans to make their presence felt.
 
“Valletta’s strength comes from their players, the club and their fans,” the former Fiorentina forward
observed. “Our supporters have been great this season and I hope they rise to the occasion because a derby like this should offer a spectacle as it’s a direct confrontation between two rival teams.”
First round: Valletta vs Floriana 3-1.

Source - Times of Malta