Valletta Gzira U out to make a statement Published on: 03-10-2019

Valletta vs Gzira

Valletta and Gżira United may have not enjoyed the start of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign they were hoping for but they have the chance to rubberstamp their title ambitions when they go head to head at the National Stadium this evening (kick-off: 7pm).

The Malta champions had a rough start to their title defence as they could only manage two wins out of their opening five outings and are sitting fifth in the standings on eight points, three below early pacesetters Ħamrun Spartans and Floriana.

Gżira, on the other hand, found life more difficult than today’s opponents as they only recorded their first league of the season last weekend when having the better of Balzan 2-0 last weekend, following four draws in their previous outings. That left them a further point back of Valletta in seventh place.

Surely, this evening’s match will be a great opportunity for both Valletta and Gżira to send a statement of intent and City striker Mario Fontanella said that their plan was very clear – to win the match.

“There is no hiding that facing a team of the quality of Gżira United is always a very difficult challenge for us,” the Naples-born striker told Times of Malta yesterday.

“This summer they further strengthened their ranks with the acquisition of some quality players but their biggest acquisition for me was the arrival of coach Giovanni Tedesco, who I know very well from my time at Floriana. He is a great tactician and revels in matches against big teams and I’m sure he will try to make it difficult for us.

“But irrespective of who we are facing, the mindset here at Valletta is always to go out and win the match and that is what we are planning to do against Gżira. It’s true we have struggled a bit at the start of the season as our European campaign left its toll but I feel that we are slowly regaining our poise and hopefully we can go out and do the job against Gżira.

“Winning the title is all that matters for us this year and to do that we have to win every match we play.”

Valletta coach Darren Abdilla is likely to make some changes to his starting formation following the bruising clash against Birkirkara.

The City mentor is likely to be without Georgian midfielder Irakli Dzaria who picked up a neck injury in the 2-2 draw against the Stripes. However, on a more positive note, midfielder Rowen Muscat has regained full fitness and is pushing for a start alongside Matteo Piciollo who did not feature against Birkirkara.

Gżira, on their part, have no selection problems and coach Giovanni Tedesco is likely to field his strongest formation as he looks to carry the positive momentum generated by their win over Balzan.

Rodolfo Soares said that the victory over Balzan has been a huge mental boost for the Maroons and hopes the team will express their best football against Valletta.

“Every time the league campaign kicks off, it is always difficult,” the former Hibernians defender said.

“All teams play with great passion and excitement and have new foreigners who want to showcase their talent. It’s true that we struggled at the start of the campaign but the match against Balzan could be a huge turning point for us as hopefully it will gives us that psychological tranquility that enable us to express our true potential.

“Facing a team like Valletta is always a tough test but at the same time it’s a good source of motivation to show that we have what it takes to challenge for the honours. This summer the president have boosted our squad with some excellent players and certainly we have no excuses if we fail to challenge for the major honours as we are in the right place.

“The league championship is long and hard and if we are to go further than the previous years and challenge seriously for the title we need to start winning matches against big teams like Valletta, so the ball is in our feet now.”