Preview - Day 05 Valletta vs Floriana Published on: 21-09-2016

Preview Valletta vs Floriana

If recent results are anything to go by, champions Valletta should be regarded as favourites to emerge
victorious from their tiff with Floriana but they will be wary of the wounded Greens who will be going
all out to put their season back on track with a win tonight.
A 2-2 draw against Balzan, coupled with Birkirkara’s slip-up to Sliema Wanderers, meant Valletta
stayed top on 10 points. By contrast, Floriana suffered an unexpected setback ahead of their
first clash with their derby rivals this season as a toothless display against Tarxien consigned them to a 1-0
loss, their second in a row.
Valletta coach Paul Zammit played down suggestions that his team have an edge over Floriana who prevailed 2-0 in their last meeting back in April.
“We are still at the start of the season,” Zammit told Times of Malta. “As such, derbies between Valletta
and Floriana are always intense and hard-fought, regardless of when they are played. The players
and fans look forward to this fixture.
“Both teams have their immediate objectives based on their positions in the standings.
“We are coming from a series of positive results but there were passages in certain games when we
didn’t do particularly well and we need to improve those aspects.
“As for Floriana, they will be tough opponents. They are one of the clubs who invested in their squad in the close season.”
On Saturday, Valletta looked on course to stretch their winning start after surging into a 2-0 half-time
lead but struggled to cope with Balzan’s second-half fightback.
Zammit said his players are angry with themselves for their secondhalf decline but lauded his team for
their attitude.
“Rather than disappointed, we are angry with ourselves,” the Valletta coach remarked. “That said, I’m still happy with the attitude of my players.
“With all those central midfield players missing, we knew that the only way we could have won the
game was through tactical work and in the opening half our rhythm was excellent. But, the story was completely different after the break.
“With all due respect to our opponents, who deserve credit for their comeback, it was our fault that we lost control of the game because we dropped our rhythm. “We made it possible for Balzan to get back into contention. However, I prefer to focus on the positives and hats off to my players for an exceptional first half.”
Floriana are four points behind Valletta after four games but Zammit is not reading too much into that at this stage of the campaign.
“The change in the technical staff has also brought a change in Floriana’s tactical approach compared
to last season,” he said. “Floriana are coming from two negative results but make no mistake,
they will fight back.
“They have already shown their character and will be looking at this match as the perfect opportunity to
bounce back. “We have to rise to the challenge in terms of playing with the right determination and motivation.”
Cremona, Pani back For today’s derby, Zammit is expected to welcome back midfielders Llywelyn Cremona, who has recovered from a hamstring problem, and Claudio Pani, who has completed a two-match ban.
Midfielder Roderick Briffa had cruciate surgery in Rome yesterday afternoon and will be out for several
months. Goalkeeper Nicky Vella is also out after cruciate operation. Floriana midfielder Clyde Borg
will miss the derby after receiving a one-match ban following his dismissal in the 1-0 reverse against
Tarxien but otherwise Giovanni Tedesco can bank on a full squad.
The Italian, back at the helm of Floriana after succeeding Luis Oliveira this summer, said the two key words for his team ahead of today’s match against Valletta are humility and sacrifice.
“The only words I want to emphasise before this game are humility and sacrifice,” Tedesco said. “We know we’re playing against a very strong team who won the league title last season… I have personally
congratulated Vallettacoach Paul Zammit for their achievement.
“There is a lot of quality in our squad but we need to show this on the field of play if we are to compete
with the likes of Valletta. “And we can only do that by being humble and show a strong sense of sacrifice.
“I want my team to fight from the first till the last minute.” The mood in the Floriana camp may be downbeat after their shock defeat to Tarxien but Tedesco believes that the derby will bring the best out of his team.
“In this difficult moment for our team, Valletta are perhaps the ideal opponents we could hope to meet
because the derby is not an ordinary game,” Tedesco said. “This kind of match elicits higher levels of motivation and determination inside the players.
“In psychological terms, I prefer to face Valletta rather than a team in the bottom half of the table now
but I repeat… we need to go into the match with a sense of humility and a readiness to fight and help each
other on the pitch.”

Source - Times of Malta