Preview Day 31: Valletta vs Birkirkara Published on: 25-04-2015

End-of-season duels between Valletta and Birkirkara are usually crunch matches determining the league champions or cup winners. Only last year these two rival teams faced each other in the final fixture of the league trek which saw the Citizens overcoming the Stripes 2-0 for their 22nd league title.

Fast forward 12 months and the scenario is somewhat different as this time both Valletta and Birkirkara
were pipped to the post by a rampant Hibs team who sealed their title triumph with three matches to spare.

Still today’s Valletta-Birkirkara encounter (kick-off 7pm) holds a fair dose of significance as they look to finish runners-up in the championship.

Last week, Birkirkara leapfrogged the Citizens into second place after a 3-1 win over Żebbuġ Rangers. They are a point ahead of Valletta who could only manage a 3-3 draw in their last match against Sliema.

Paul Fenech, the Birkirkara midfielder, reckons second place may well be seen as a consolation prize
but a strong finish could aid the Stripes in their quest to win the FA Trophy.

“Teams of our calibre always start the season with the aim of winning the league. However, this was not
our year and Hibs fully deserved their success,” he told Times of Malta.

“Our best hope in the league is the runners-up spot but we also have the FA Trophy semi-finals coming
up. So, a strong finish is what we really need to do well in the cup competition.”

Striker Liliu is pushing for a start in Birkirkara’s line-up after marking his return with a goal against
Żebbuġ last week but skipper Gareth Sciberras is still out with knee trouble.

The City fans, though dwindling in numbers, still expect nothing less than a win against the Stripes.
“Matches against Birkirkara are always highly-anticipated by our fans,” Ryan Fenech, the Valletta skipper, said.

“This time round there’s less at stake but the desire to beat them is always there no matter which position we’re in. “Second place is all we are looking at ahead of the FA Trophy which we want to retain after missing out on the league.” Previous results: Birkirkara vs Valletta 2-0, 1-1.

Source: Times of Malta