Preview Day 09: Valletta vs Floriana Published on: 03-11-2018

Floriana coach Luis Oliveira has called on his players to show more fight if they are to turnaround their fortunes as the Greens prepare for a  daunting test against neighbouring rivals Valletta at the National Stadium (kick-off: 4pm).
Four defeats in their last five outings has seen Floriana slip down to eighth in the standings and the pressure is gradually increasing on the shoulders of coach Oliveira as he looks to stop the rot and put his team back on track for at least a top four position.
But their task awaiting them is daunting to say the least as they face a Valletta side who are brimming with confidence as they are coming from a run of six successive wins that has catapulted them to second place in the standings, four points adrift of leaders Gżira United.
Oliveira has admitted that he is expecting a very tough day in the office tomorrow.
“Facing Valletta surely is not easy at the moment,” the former Fiorentina and Cagliari striker told the Times of Malta.
“ They are in a great run of form, scoring four or five goals in each game, and have some of the best players in the Maltese Premier League.
“But we need to pull up our socks and try and show more character to try and give them a tough challenge.
“For us this is a crucial match as another defeat could push us further away from the top positions so we have to do everything necessary to try and pick up some points from the match.”
Oliveira is sweating on the fitness of towering striker Ignacio Varela who is nursing an ankle injury but Maurizio Vella is expected to be fit enough to start the match after he made a full recovery from a hamstring injury.
Defender Enzo Ruiz is out with a one-match ban.
The Greens this week have brought two new overseas players to leave the void left by Brazilian forward Ronaldinho and Ivica Guberac, the Slovenian midfielder, who were released in the last week.
Brazilian midfielder Thiago Galvao Da Silva and Argentine attacking midfielder Ulisses Arias arrived in Malta this week but it remains to be seen whether the Greens manage to complete their registration in time for the match.
Oliveira said that what disappoints him most of his players is their lack of fight during matches.
“I was really angry with the players approach in the last few matches,” Oliveira said.
“Against Pietà Hotspurs we took an early lead but then we stopped playing. There was no urgency in
our game and we stopped running and ended up losing the match.
“Against Valletta we cannot afford such attitude or we risk to get humiliated. I know how much this match against Valletta is important for our fans and I expect my players to roll up their sleeves and give their hearts out to try and get a positive result.
“If they don’t show a fighting spirit against Valletta then they don’t deserve to don our shirt.”
Valletta coach Danilo Doncic is looking forward to tomorrow’s derby against Floriana and he has every reason to be positive given the impressive form of late shown by his team.
In fact, apart from winning the last six matches on the bounce, the Citizens have scored 27 goals
and conceded just two.
“At the moment we are passing through a very good patch of form,” Doncic said.
“Last week we were without some key players such as Bojan Kaljevic and Henry Bonello but the players who came in showed that they are capable of doing a job for the team and we still manage to secure a clear-cut victory over Mosta.
“At present I have a very competitive squad and a long bench that provides me with a lot of options and the team is playing the best football for a very long time so the signs look good for the derby.
“Still, all derbies are different matches and I’m sure that Floriana will give their 100 per cent to get the three points but I have great faith in the team and I’m confident that we can win all three points.”
Tomorrow Doncic is again expected to be without Kaljevic who is nursing an ankle injury.
Positive momentum
The Valletta coach said that it was important for his team to maintain the positive momentum of late and said victory against the Greens would be the perfect tonic ahead of next week’s top-of-the table clash against Gżira.
“I have played many derbies in my career and I know winning these kind of matches instils a lot of self-belief,” Doncic said.
“I’m expecting a very hardfought match against Floriana but if we play the same level of football we  displayed in the last few weeks we surely have a great chance to return home victorious. 
“Surely a win over Floriana would be a great boost before next week’s match against Gżira.
“The players are keen to make up for a poor start of the season and they are desperate to show that they are still the best team in Malta and regain their place at the top of the standings.”

Source - Times of Malta