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Preview: First League - Round 19

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First LeagueFirst LeagueOn Sunday, the first half of the Macedonian top division will conclude before the winter break gets underway. The two most interesting matches of the round are Turnovo - Rabotnichki and Vardar - Shkendija.

Macedonia is free of snow so the playing conditions should not be a burden as in the past couple of rounds. Turnovo hosts Rabotnichki in a battle between two of the three second-placed teams that have equal points. It should be an even and interesting game knowing the ambitions of both teams. Turnovo has a small advantage in the fact that all of Rabotnichki's defeats this season (3) have occurred on the road, while Turnovo has only lost one game at their home stadium, against Pelister. Their first meeting in Skopje was a real football spectacle as it ended in a 5:3 win for Rabotnichki.

The other interesting game of the round is the match between Vardar and Shkendija, the last game of the first half of the season that gets underway at 17:00 CET, several hours after the other games of Round 19.  Looking at the standings and form this season, this match should not really be that competitive with Shkendija's struggles thus far, but the hostile relations between the two ultras groups always lends to a tense atmosphere and the feel of a derby. In the first meeting earlier this season, Shkendija actually defeated Vardar 3:1 in Tetovo, so Vardar will be looking for some revenge. The game will be broadcast live on the MTV Sobraniski channel. Those living outside of Macedonia could watch the game live on the web site of the Macedonian national television station, www.mrt.com.mk (go to the web site and then click on СОБРАНИСКИ КАНАЛ near the top, or simply click here).

Near the bottom of the table, Makedonija GjP and Gostivar will square off looking to end disappointing campaigns in the first half on a positive note. Makedonija GjP must win in order to get a bit closer to the safety zone, while Gostivar is in a more desperate position by being 11 points out of the relegation zone. A road win against a direct rival will be a great boost for the remaining of the season. Makedonija came victorious with a lone goal in their first meeting.

Pelister is a huge favorite in Bitola against Napredok. With a win, Pelister is hoping to take control of first place while also counting on Vardar to slip against Shkendija and for Turnovo and Rabotnichki to play to a draw. Their previous encounter against Napredok in Kichevo ended in just a 2:2 draw.

Gorno Lisiche has been playing better as of late and eventually got out of the relegation zone for the time being, although they have the same number of points as Shkendija and Bregalnica (better goal difference being the reason.) On Sunday, they play host to Metalurg looking to spring together another surprising result. Metalurg won the first meeting 2:1 in Skopje.

The remaining game sees Bregalnica visit Renova in a game of two compact teams, so this match is not likely to see many goals. Their first meeting in Shtip ended in a goalless draw.

Sunday at 13.00 CET:

Kukush stadium in Turnovo
Horizont Turnovo vs. Rabotnichki
Referee:Petar Mantev (Negotino)

Gradski stadium in Tetovo
Renova vs. Bregalnica
Referee: Konstantin Vlaho (Skopje)

Boris Trajkovski stadium in Skopje
Gorno Lisiche vs. Metalurg
Referee: Stevche Shuleski (Ohrid)

Gjorche Petrov stadium in Skopje
Makedonija Gjorche Petrov vs. Gostivar
Referee: Marjan Eckoski (Ohrid)

Pod Tumbe Kafe stadium in Bitola
Pelister vs. Napredok
Referee: Nikola Kostenchev (Skopje)

Sunday at 17.00 CET with live coverage on MTV Sobraniski:

National Arena Philip II of Macedon in Skopje
Vardar vs. Shkendija
Referee: Dejan Jakimovski (Skopje)

Standings | Fixtures & results

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