The first month of the new season promises some absolute cracking match ups. Mark these fixtures down in your diary as must-see matches.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory – Round 1, Friday October 7 at Suncorp Stadium
What a fascinating fixture to open the Hyundai A-League season with the competition’s two most successful clubs hoping for early supremacy in Brisbane. We won’t know after one game but it will be good to get a glimpse at two new-look squads with the likes of Brett Holman, Thomas Kristensen, James Troisi, Marco Rojas, Alan Baro hoping to make immediate impacts at their new clubs. Victory’s campaign ended at the hands of the Roar at Suncorp last season – with ex-Roar striker Besart Berisha in tears - and their desire for revenge will give this clash added spice.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC – Round 1, Saturday October 8 at ANZ Stadium
This has quickly become the must-see fixture on the Hyundai A-League calendar and is likely to go to a whole new level on the opening weekend of the season. It’s always a special atmosphere when these two sides of Sydney come together but with an expected record Hyundai A-League crowd in excess of 65,000 at ANZ, this will be something else. Both sides have recruited well and will expect to be challenging for the title, meaning a fast-start will be at the top of their agenda. The Sky Blues have dominated this fixture of last – unbeaten in the last seven – but at their temporary "Wanderland" will a new venue offer new hope for the Red and Black?
Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers – Round 2, Friday October 14 at Coopers Stadium
You’ve got to love a grand final rematch and the Wanderers don’t have to wait too long to try turn the tables on the Reds for their defeat in the decider at Adelaide Oval in May. Clashes between these two – who both have a distinct Spanish flavour in their ranks – were extremely tight last season and this should be no different. While a win for the Wanderers won’t erase the pain of the GF loss, they’ll want to turn the tables in what should be a full house at Coopers for Friday Night Football.
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners – Round 2, Saturday October 15 at Allianz Stadium
Paul Okon faces a tricky initiation as Mariners boss with some tough early games, including this one against the Sky Blues in their first home game of the season. Both sides are looking to rebuild after under-performing last season and will view this as a big opportunity to secure three points. The Mariners head to Sydney with a few ex-Sky Blues in their line-up - Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares and Ivan Necevski - and for sure will be looking to get one over their former club.
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City – Round 2, Saturday October 15 at Etihad Stadium
City’s steady improvement over the last couple of seasons has given this fixture even greater significance as these two jostle for the title of Kings of Melbourne. This clash never disappoints and when you add in the fact this is likely to be Caltex Socceroo striker Tim Cahill’s first Hyundai A-League appearance for City, excitement levels could rip off the Etihad Stadium roof. This round two derby is the perfect stage for one side to lay down a marker as the state’s best and help supercharge their start to the campaign.
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory – Round 3, Saturday October 22 at Coopers Stadium
The Reds were arguably Victory’s biggest rivals before Melbourne City rose to prominence meaning this will always be a grudge match for both clubs. It’s always a great spectacle when Adelaide and Victory do battle and there could be a little extra feeling in this one after the Reds took Victory’s title last season. Coopers Stadium will be rocking for what should be a ripper on the always pristine surface of the Reds’ home ground.
Melbourne City v Adelaide United – Round 4, Friday October 28 at AAMI Park
These two have formed a massive rivalry over the last 12 months and this could be another explosive clash at AAMI Park. Ex-City youngsters Ben Garuccio and Marc Marino are now at the Reds, while Osama Malik and Bruce Kamau are two former Adelaide stars now calling Melbourne City home. Throw in the all-in melee in round 27 last season plus Adelaide’s win over City in the Finals Series and this has all the ingredients to be a beauty - with just a bit of feeling, too.
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix – Round 4, Monday October 31 at Etihad Stadium
Victory fan favourites Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler return to Melbourne for the first time since making their switch across the Tasman at the end of last season. Victory boss Kevin Muscat will know all about the threat they possess but will he be able to stop their influence in what is a flamboyant looking Phoenix squad. This has become a traditional pre-Melbourne Cup clash between the two clubs in recent seasons and the two sides’ attacking style means it’s often easy on the eye for neutrals.