Elimination Final preview: Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
We've reached the pointy end of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season and what better way to start than with a Trans-Tasman clash between two of the competition's most entertaining sides.
Reigning champions Melbourne Victory host Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.50pm AEST) in a match-up that is equally as exciting as it is hard to predict.
All three clashes between these two clubs this season have been edge-of-your-seat thrillers, and each one has ended all square.
Kevin Muscat’s Victory find themselves in a similar position to this time last season.
Melbourne timed their run to perfection, winning two sudden-death games to reach the decider before beating Newcastle Jets to claim the title.
Ominously for their rivals, Victory look to be in much better shape this season than they were 12 months ago.
While Saturday night’s 1-0 win over the Wanderers was far from a vintage display, this Victory squad is full of experienced, big-game players.
Unlike their hosts, Phoenix stumbled into the finals on the back of a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of premiers Perth.
Coach Mark Rudan rested a host of his stars – including skipper Andrew Durante, while leading scorer Roy Krishna made a bench cameo – with one eye on this fixture.
The Phoenix will start outsiders in Melbourne but they matched up well against Victory this season and won’t be overawed about playing at AAMI Park.
Although, Wellington have never won a finals match away from home, with their last win in the post-season coming way back in 2012 against Sydney FC.
Expect the star strikers in each side to have a huge say in the outcome of this one.
Victory’s Swedish marksman Ola Toivonen has a shot conversion rate of 30% this season, which is the highest of any player to have registered at least 20 total shots.
But Golden Boot winner Krishna, who finished with 18 goals for the campaign, boasts a shooting accuracy of 68%, the highest of any player (min. 20 shots on target).
So expect plenty of goals and end-to-end action as the Hyundai A-League Finals Series begins with a bang!
Key Opta stats
- Wellington Phoenix have lost only one of their last five Hyundai A-League games against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park (W2, D2), finding the back of the net at least once in each of those five games.
- Melbourne Victory have never lost a Hyundai A-League finals fixture in Melbourne in regular time (W11, L1 on pens), and have won their last six such fixtures on the bounce.
- The Phoenix (50.2%) are one of only two teams (Perth Glory - 54.1%) to enjoy a shooting accuracy of 50% or higher in the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season.
Ins and outs
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Matthew ACTON (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Corey BROWN, 4.Keisuke HONDA, 5.Georg NIEDERMEIER, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Kenny ATHIU, 8.Terry ANTONIS, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Ola TOIVONEN, 14.Thomas DENG, 15.Raul BAENA, 16.Joshua HOPE, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.Rahmat AKBARI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI, 24. Elvis KAMSOBA **two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Corey BROWN (promoted), 16.Joshua HOPE (promoted) 19.Rahmat AKBARI (promoted)
Outs: 10.James TROISI (hamstring)
Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1.Filip KURTO (gk), 4.Mandi SOSA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Cillian SHERIDAN, 11.David WILLIAMS, 12.Antony GOLEC, 13.Liberato CACACE, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.Michal KOPZCYNSKI, 17.Callan ELLIOT, 18.Sarpreet SINGH, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Max BURGESS, 27.Steven TAYLOR, 31. Ben WAINE, 32. Gianni STENSNESS **two to be omitted**
Ins: 14. Alex RUFER (promoted), 22. Andrew DURANTE (promoted)
Unavailable: 16. Louis FENTON (foot injury - season)
How to watch
All Hyundai A-League 2019 Finals Series matches will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS, 10 Bold, Sky Sport NZ and MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers. You can also subscribe to Kayo Sports.
Be there at AAMI Park as Victory and the Phoenix look to stay alive in the 2018/19 Season. Click HERE for tickets!