11/02/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/02/2018 11:05
Both sides will be going all out to get back to winning ways after losing their last games against Ħamrun Spartans (2-1) and Hibernians (1-0) respectively.
Birkirkara, down to seventh place on 12 points, are under pressure to get their act together as they look to make up ground on the leading teams. The Stripes have lost four of their last six encounters.
Sliema Wanderers have now dropped to third place after their 1-0 defeat to Hibs halted a positive run of four games without a loss.
John Buttigieg, the Sliema Wanderers coach, will have to watch the game from the stands after being handed a one-match touchline ban.
Senglea Athletic vs Tarxien Rainbows (Saturday, Centenary Stadium - 2pm)
Senglea Athletic and Tarxien Rainbows will be aiming to make it two wins in a row when they meet in a direct clash.
Tarxien Rainbows have won their last encounter against Qormi while Senglea registered their first win after beating St Andrews 2-1.
Senglea have two players suspended - Brandon Muscat and Augusto Rene Caseres.
Caseres was shown the red card in the win over St Andrews while Muscat collected his fourth yellow card.
Rainbows coach Josè Borg welcomes back German Jens Wemmer.
Pietà Hotspurs v Gżira United (Saturday, Tedesco Stadium - 2pm)
Leaders Gżira United face Pietà Hotspurs whose morale is sky-high after their come-from-behind 2-1 win over Floriana last weekend.
The Maroons will surely not underestimate their opponents as they look to extend their unbeaten start and stay clear of Valletta and Hibernians at the top of the table.
Gżira, who are regarded as title contenders, have only dropped points in a goalless draw against Ħamrun Spartans on 25th August. Darren Abdilla's team are chasing their seventh consecutive win.
Pietà are expected to field their best formation while Gżira are strengthened by the return of Andrew Cohen whose three-match ban was reduced to one on appeal.
Mosta vs Hibernians (Saturday, Centenary Stadium - 4.15 pm)
Hibernians start as favourites to win this encounter against Mosta who are without a win in their last five outings.
The Paolites are looking for their fifth consecutive win while striker Jurgen Degabriele will be aiming to score his fifth goal of the season.
Italian coach Stefano Sanderra is expected to stick with the same formation as all the players are available.
Brażilian Abner de Oliveira Renan is expected to be available for Mosta.
Balzan vs St Andrews (Saturday, Tedesco Stadium - 4.15pm)
A must-win match for Balzan who have slipped seven points off the top after dropping six points in their last three outings.
The Reds, who went down 3-0 to leaders Gżira United last weekend, will be without Nenad Sljivic, suspended, but striker Andrija Majdevac is set to return.
St Andrews, eighth on nine points, will also be looking to bounce back after losing 2-1 to Senglea.
Young striker Alex Satariano is expected to return for the Saints.
Qormi vs Ħamrun Spartans (Sunday, National Stadium - 2pm)
Ħamrun Spartans face neighbours Qormi in Sunday's curtain-raiser at the Natonal Stadium.
Qormi will be looking to avoid their sixth consecutive defeat while the Spartans are on a high after their narrow victory over Birkirkara.
The Spartans will be without Italian defender Antonio Monticelli who received his fourth yellow card in their last outing.
Qormi's Tensior Gusman will be serving the third of a three-match ban.
Valletta vs Floriana (Sunday, National Stadium - 4pm)
This is the classic derby which is expected to attract a good crowd to the National Stadium.
Rivals Valletta and Floriana have endured contrasting fortunes so far this season as the champions are on a six-match winning run while the Greens are languishing in eighth place following a series of bad results.
The eyes on Sunday will be on Valletta striker Mario Fontanella who will be facing his former team.
The Italian has been instrumental for his new club this season and leads the scorers' chart with 10 goals.
While Valletta are coming from a 5-0 win over Mosta, Floriana suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pietà Hotspurs.
The Greens must make do without Argentinian defender Enzo Ruiz, suspended.