Hyundai A-League Elimination Final preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Old rivalries will be re-kindled when Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United clash in Sunday’s second Hyundai A-League Elimination Final at AAMI Park.
Having met four times in the Finals Series during the Hyundai A-League 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons, the two clubs go head-to-head in a sudden-death clash for the first time in a decade.
Both sides come into this highly-anticipated meeting in good recent form and off the back of very similar seasons, during which each won a comparable number of matches.
But all bets are off when these two enter battle and with the chance to claim a place in week two of the Hyundai A-League Finals Series on the line, expect nothing less than a titanic battle between two heavyweights of Australian football.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS THIS SEASON
Round three - Adelaide United 2-2 Melbourne Victory
Vince Lia was Adelaide United's unlikely goalscoring hero, netting twice as these two old rivals clashed for the first time this season at Adelaide Oval.
After Besart Berisha opened the scoring, Lia struck either side of half-time with two eye-catching efforts, before a late Mitch Austin goal earned the Reds a share of the points.
Round ten - Melbourne Victory 1-2 Adelaide United
Adelaide United survived two late red cards to secure an action-packed win at Etihad Stadium.
Daniel Adlung and Ben Garrucio were both dismissed for second yellows in the space of five minutes, but the visitors held on to secure the points.
Baba Diawara and George Blackwood scored Adelaide's goals either side of a stunning Mark Milligan volley, while Besart Berisha also failed to convert a penalty.
Round 21 - Melbourne Victory 3-0 Adelaide United
Two first-half goals - an own-goal by Taylor Regan and a Leroy George effort - laid the platform for an emphatic Victory win, with Adelaide's Džengis Čavušević sent off just nine minutes after coming on at half-time.
Four minutes later, Besart Berisha tapped in a third as the home side pressed home their advantage.
Last five (old to new): W, L, W, W, L
Victory’s narrow loss to Sydney FC on the final weekend of the regular season denied them the chance to challenge their cross-town rivals Melbourne City for third place.
However it was just their second defeat (both 0-1) in amongst five wins to finish their campaign, bringing Kevin Muscat’s men to the end of the regular season with good momentum behind them.
Last five (old to new): D, W, W, L, W
The Reds found some form in the last month of the season, winning three of their last four and banging in 11 goals in the process, including five against the high-flying Jets.
Adelaide United were resident in the top four early in the season and again briefly in February, but eventually had to settle for fifth place with the late-season form of both Melbourne clubs denying them a home final.
Melbourne Victory: Kevin Muscat rested many of his first-choice starters for the mid-week AFC Champions League match and has practically a full roster to choose from, with Christian Theoharous returning from illness and everyone else available, with the exception of Mitch Austin (long-term knee injury).
Adelaide United: Marco Kurz will welcome back inspirational skipper Isaias after he decided against risking him last week for fear of picking up a suspension for yellow card accumulation. Džengis Čavušević is unavailable with a knee injury, but Ryan Strain re-joins the squad.
WHAT THEY SAID
Ryan Kitto (Adelaide United striker): “I think we’ve had a good record with this team in the FFA Cup and that’s knockout (football) and we got all the way to the final there and matched Sydney up until the 115th minute. So in one-off games we believe in ourselves and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Kevin Muscat (Melbourne Victory coach): “It seems now that every team is a rival of ours! It's another big game and it'll be a good atmosphere. I can certainly guarantee we'll be doing our utmost to make Sunday another special evening.”
Victory have lost just two of their last 15 meetings with Adelaide United and have won four of the last six clashes.
Melbourne Victory 2-1 Adelaide United