A week after losing a crazy Round 27 match 5-4 in WA, Melbourne City will be aiming for revenge at home against Perth Glory with a spot in the Hyundai A-League Semi Finals the prize.
Sunday 23 April 2017
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:00pm (AEST)
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream
Assistant Referee 2: Paul Cetrangolo
Fourth Official: Jonathan Barreiro
Video Assistant Referee: Craig Zetter
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 6.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand). Delayed broadcast on SBS VICELAND from 7.30pm AEST
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. After 1930: ABC Radio Melbourne, ABC Radio Perth, ABC Radio Vic/WA, Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), 1116 SEN (Melbourne)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #ALFinals
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Manny MUSCAT (promoted), 14.Daniel ARZANI (promoted)
Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 27.Fernando BRANDAN (ACL – season), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)
Perth Glory squad: 3.Marc WARREN, 5.Rhys WILLIAMS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.Rostyn GRIFFITHS (c), 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebo MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 13.Nick FEELY (gk), 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Brandon WILSON, 16.Joe MILLS 17.Diego CASTRO, 18.Mitch OXBORROW, 19.Josh RISDON, 22.Adam TAGGART, 26.Lucian GOIAN, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Rhys WILLIAMS (promoted), 16.Joe MILLS (promoted)
Unavailable: 2.Alex GRANT (foot – season), 4.Shane LOWRY (quad – season)
For the second time in eight days, City will take on Glory with last week's crazy game fresh in the memories of both squads.
Perth denied City a third-place finish in Round 27, storming to a 4-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining and then surviving the visitors' response to triumph in a nine-goal thriller.
It means that for the second straight season, City will host Kenny Lowe's Glory in an elimination final at AAMI Park.
Last year, Bruno Fornaroli scored a double - a bicycle kick in the first half and a direct free-kick in the second - as City won 2-0.
Perth don't have a great record in the A-League finals - they have qualified in only four IN 11 seasons and all three of their wins from seven previous post-season fixtures came in 2011-12 when they reached the grand final.
That season, Glory defeated Melbourne Heart, Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners before eventually losing 2-1 to Brisbane Roar in the championship decider.
Lowe's men have had the edge over City in 2016/17, winning twice and drawing once despite having to play in Melbourne in two of those matches.
Last week's nine goals weren't that out of the ordinary either, with the three meetings between City and Glory finishing with a total of 20.
Perth striker Andy Keogh (4 goals) has enjoyed this fixture the most this term, while Diego Castro has found the back of the net three times.
Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill have matched the Spaniard's tally for City.
Coach Michael Valkanis has added Manny Muscat and Daniel Arzani to the City squad he took to Perth last week, while Rhys Williams and Joe Mills have earned recalls to Glory's extended group.
Glory have beaten fellow top-six sides City and Brisbane Roar in their past two games, while Valkanis' side hasn't beaten another finalist in six matches.
* Perth have scored 10 goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season, the most of any team and two more than Melbourne City.
* Tim Cahill has scored three goals from four shots in his last two games against Glory.
* Diego Castro has created 33 away chances this season, more than any other player in the competition.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Scoring goals hasn't been a problem for either of these teams this season - only premiers Sydney FC (55) scored more than Glory's 53, while City (49) finished equal third alongside archrivals Melbourne Victory.
It is in defence that Lowe and Valkanis need to do some work - the past seven fixtures between City and Glory have seen an average of 5.29 goals per game.
The return of Michael Jakobsen a fortnight ago saw City earn just their third clean sheet of the A-League campaign in a 1-0 win over Adelaide United, but judging by last week, clearly the Danish centre-back cannot cure all ills.
Only Sydney (234) have faced fewer shots than City (288) in 2016-17, which raises questions about replacing last season's A-League goalkeeper of the year Thomas Sorensen with Dean Bouzanis.
Glory simply allow opposition sides too many opportunities - only Central Coast Mariners (430) have faced more shots than Lowe's men (397).
The return of captain Rostyn Griffiths from a quadriceps injury off the bench last week should give the visitors some hope ahead of Sunday's clash, as he could play a critical role in screening Perth's back four.
In all three of Glory's clean sheets this season, Griffiths has partnered with Brandon Wilson in central midfield and Rhys Williams has played in defence - all three didn't start against City last week.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Tim Cahill. The Socceroos' all-time leading scorer was critical in ensuring City avoided slipping further down the A-League table in the final round of the regular season, scoring twice at nib Stadium.
Melbourne City: WLLWL
Perth Glory: LLDWW
Melbourne City 3-2 Perth Glory