The fixtures for the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season were revealed on Wednesday with some blockbuster games scheduled to kick-off the new campaign.
And with teams desperate to get off to a flying start, the opening month of the season looms as a crucial period as teams look to entrench themselves in the top six.
With that in mind, we examine each club’s first four fixtures to kick off the new season.
Wellington Phoenix (away), Brisbane Roar (away), Melbourne Victory (home), Melbourne City (home)
New German boss Marco Kurz has a tricky introduction to life in the Hyundai A-League with his rebuilt Reds on the road for the opening fortnight.
The long trip to Wellington to start the season is followed by a clash with Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
But it will be worth the wait for Reds fans to see their boys in the City of Churches with traditional rivals Melbourne Victory the first side to visit Adelaide in Round 3.
It should be a huge crowd and cracking atmosphere at Adelaide Oval for the Victory clash, before it’s back to Coopers in Round 4 to take on City, who’ll have ex-Reds skipper Eugene Galekovic in their side.
Melbourne City (away), Adelaide United (home), Newcastle Jets (home), Wellington Phoenix (away)
For the second season in a row, Roar get the privilege of opening the new season, with a Friday night clash in Round 1 against City.
These two developed quite a heated rivalry last season so there should be plenty of feeling in this one.
Brisbane boss John Aloisi will see the next three matches as a huge opportunity to get his side’s season off to a good start.
Roar play three sides who all missed the finals last season and with two of those games at fortress Suncorp, there’s no reason why the wins can’t be flowing for the men in Orange.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Newcastle Jets (home), Western Sydney Wanderers (away), Perth Glory (away), Melbourne Victory (home)
Mariners fans will already have circled the Round 1 Saturday afternoon fixture on October 7 as one not to miss as local rivals Newcastle Jets make the short trip down the F3.
Central Coast would love nothing more than to get off to a flyer at the expense of the Jets, especially with former Mariner Roy O’Donovan now spearheading Newcastle’s attack.
While the F3 Derby will take most of the attention in the opening month, the Mariners do face a stern examination of their finals credentials with tricky clashes against the Wanderers, Glory and Victory all before October is out.
Brisbane Roar (home), Melbourne Victory (away), Wellington Phoenix (home), Adelaide United (away)
Warren Joyce will face tough a tough start to his reign at City with two huge games in the opening fortnight. All eyes will be on AAMI Park as the curtain lifts on the new season with a Friday night cracker against Roar.
But’s it’s the Melbourne Derby the following week which will steal the spotlight. The two Melbourne clubs will consider themselves as serious title contenders in 2017/18, giving the derby even greater significance.
The good news is they don’t have to leave Melbourne either until round four, when they head to Adelaide for a clash with the Reds.
Sydney FC (home), Melbourne City (home), Adelaide United (away), Central Coast Mariners (away)
What a mega start to the new campaign for everyone associated with Victory to look forward to. The Big V get an immediate chance to exact some grand final revenge on Sydney FC with an opening round Big Blue at Etihad Stadium.
It’s the first of three monumental clashes for Kevin Muscat’s troops, who then take on Melbourne rivals City a week later before heading to Adelaide for the always-spicy clash with the Reds. If Victory want to make an early statement to the rest of the Hyundai A-League, this is their chance!
Central Coast Mariners (away), Perth Glory (home), Brisbane Roar (away), Western Sydney Wanderers (home)
If new boss Ernie Merrick wants to endear himself to Jets fans immediately, then beating the Mariners in Gosford on the opening weekend would be the perfect start.
Newcastle have recruited strongly so far during the off-season and there’ll be expectation on the club to end their finals drought.
And while it’s a tough start to the new campaign, it’s also an exciting one for the Hunter club. After the derby, there’s home games against Glory and the Wanderers either side of a trip to Brisbane, where they enjoyed plenty of success last season.
Western Sydney Wanderers (away), Newcastle Jets (away), Central Coast Mariners (home), Sydney FC (away)
The draw for the opening month hasn’t been kind to Glory with only one home clash to look forward to. That’s against the Mariners – a side they failed to beat at all last season – in Round 3.
Kenny Lowe’s men will spend most of their time in the opening month in NSW, with all three of their away matches against NSW opposition.
That includes an opening round battle with the Wanderers, with ex-Western Sydney stars Scott Neville and Mitch Nichols now with Glory, while Caltex Socceroo Josh Risdon has gone the other way.
Melbourne Victory (away), Wellington Phoenix (home), Western Sydney Wanderers (home), Perth Glory (home)
It’s a Big Blue to begin the Sky Blues’ title as they head to Etihad Stadium for a grand final rematch against Victory. Sydney toppled the Big V in all four meetings last season and will enjoy the challenge of trying to keep their winning run going against Kevin Muscat’s men.
The rest of the month sees Graham Arnold’s side play all three matches at their home base of Allianz Stadium, the highlight undoubtedly the Round 3 derby against the Wanderers.
It was a defeat against the Red and Black – the first in 10 derby matches - which stopped the Sky Blues from becoming ‘Invincibles’ last season so they’ll want to reassert their Harbour City dominance in this one.
Adelaide United (home), Sydney FC (away), Melbourne City (away), Brisbane Roar (home)
New coaching team and new-look squad. Can this spark the start of a new era of success for Phoenix?
That’s what new coaches Darije Kalezić and Rado Vidošić will be hoping for especially as the ‘Nix begin with a match in front of their home fans against Adelaide United. They’ll want to get off to a good start as it’s a testing opening month for Wellington.
Back-to-back away trips against defending champions Sydney FC and Melbourne City won’t be easy before Brisbane Roar head across the ditch in Round 4. If Wellington can win a couple of those, they’ll be on the right track.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Perth Glory (home), Central Coast Mariners (home), Sydney FC (away), Newcastle Jets (away)
The remodelled Wanderers start with back-to-back home games against Glory and the Mariners but all eyes will be on the Round 3 derby against Sydney FC.
While the Sky Blues were deserved champions last season, the Wanderers were the only side to beat them and would love nothing more than to do it again at what will be a sold-out Allianz Stadium.
The positive for Tony Popovic is his side won’t have to do any travelling over the first month, with all four matches in October to be played in NSW.