Hyundai A-League preview: City v Victory
There will be more than just bragging rights on the line when City face Victory at AAMI Park, with Melbourne's two clubs desperate to keep in touch with the Hyundai A-League leaders.
Saturday, 13 February 2016
Melbourne City FC v Melbourne Victory
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Chris Beath
Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis
Assistant Referee 2: Luke Brennan
Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio ). SEN Radio (Melbourne)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MelbDerby
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 2.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Aaron MOOY, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 11.Michael ZULLO, 16.Jason TRIFIRO, 17.Wade DEKKER, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 27.Nick FITZGERALD, 29.Anthony CACERES, 33.Osama MALIK, 39.Ali EYIGUN
Ins: 2.Alex WILKINSON (transfer – Jeonbuk Motors), 29.Anthony CACERES (returns from suspension), 39.Ali EYIGUN (promoted)
Outs: 25.Jacob MELLING (suspension – 1 match)
Unavailable: 3.Aaron HUGHES (calf – 1-2 weeks), 4.Connor CHAPMAN (knee – 3-4 weeks), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – season)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 24.Thomas DENG
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 10.Archie THOMPSON (returns from injury), 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (returns from suspension), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (returns from suspension), 24.Thomas DENG (promoted)
Outs: 19.George HOWARD (omitted), 23.Jai INGHAM (omitted)
Unavailable: 21.Carl VALERI (ill – indefinite)
If either team loses Saturday night's derby, there is a big chance they will finish the weekend nine points adrift of top spot in the A-League table.
With leaders Western Sydney Wanderers (34 points) hosting second-bottom Wellington Phoenix this weekend and second-placed Brisbane Roar (34) welcoming third-bottom Newcastle Jets to Suncorp Stadium, Victory and City (both 28) could face a mountain to climb over the final eight matches.
It adds an extra layer of intrigue to an already tantalising contest.
While City sit third and Victory are just behind in fourth, neither team has won in the past two fortnight.
Plus Victory will be focused on revenge after their 2-1 loss in December at AAMI Park.
City have brought Alex Wilkinson into their squad and the recently-signed Socceroos defender will be expected to start in the derby.
Apart from captain Carl Valeri, who is out for the rest of the 2015-16 campaign, Victory have a full roster ready to play - arguably the first time Muscat has had that luxury this term.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Rashid Mahazi have returned to the squad following one-game bans, Archie Thompson (back) has been declared fit and Thomas Deng has been promoted.
City also have a player back from suspension in Anthony Caceres, while young midfielder Ali Eyigun has been promoted to an extended squad.
- Victory have won three of the last four Melbourne derbies.
- Each of the last seven iterations of this fixture has been won by the ‘home’ team - City will be hosting on Saturday.
- Victory have won three and drawn three of their last seven matches in the A-League and they’ve kept three clean sheets in the process.
- City have attempted the most shots on target (103) in 2015-16, but they are also the side to have allowed their opponents the most on target (114).
ROUTE TO GOAL
Neither of these teams struggle to score goals, so it could be that the strongest defence will decide this derby.
City (44 goals) are the A-League's top scorers this season, while Victory (28) sit fourth for hitting the back of the net, plus the defending champions are in the top three for shot conversion (16.2 per cent) and shot accuracy (49.7 per cent) .
Van 't Schip's men lead the league for shot conversion (20.4) but are sixth for accuracy (47.7).
When looking at defensive statistics, however, Victory have the upper hand.
Muscat's side have conceded 11 fewer goals this season compared to City, while the title-holders have five clean sheets to just one for van 't Schip's team.
It seems that Matthieu Delpierre and Co. are more likely to keep the shackles on their opponents than City's much-publicised back three.
Perhaps Wilkinson can make the difference for City?
This match will also pit the A-League's two best strikers against each other with City's Bruno Fornaroli (15 goals) looking to stay ahead of Victory marquee Besart Berisha (14) in the race for the Golden Boot.
Victory will no doubt look to take advantage of City's 3-5-2 formation and expect Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah to stay high - even without the ball - to exploit space out wide.
If City's wing-backs Michael Zullo and Ivan Franjic get on top, however, City will be well on the way to back-to-back derby wins.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Matthieu Delpierre. Melbourne Victory's fans held their breath in fear as the French defender limped off at half-time against Western Sydney, but he returned to complete the match and Muscat has declared him fit for Saturday night.
Melbourne City: WDWLL
Melbourne Victory: DWWLD
Melbourne City 1-2 Melbourne Victory