Hyundai A-League preview: Victory v Jets

The reigning Hyundai A-League champions need a win but face one of their bogey sides in Newcastle Jets on Sunday. Can Melbourne Victory get their campaign back on track against Miller's men?

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (5:00 PM (AEDT))

Referee: Chris Beath

Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis

Assistant Referee 2: Brad Hobson

Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. SEN Radio (Melbourne)

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MVCvNEW

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 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, 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (returns from suspension), 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO (promoted), 19.George HOWARD (promoted), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS (promoted)

Kosta Barbarouses netted the opener in Victory's 1-1 draw with Sydney FC in Round 21

Outs: 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (suspended – 1 week), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (suspended – 1 week)

Unavailable: 21.Carl VALERI (ill – season)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Cameron WATSON, 7.Enver ALIVODIC, 8.Mateo POLJAK, 9.Milos TRIFUNOVIC, 10.LEONARDO, 14.Mitch COOPER, 16.Steven UGARKOVIC, 17.Radovan PAVICEVIC, 19.Morten NORDSTRAND, 20.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 24.Nicholas COWBURN, 28.Ryan KITTO

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Daniel MULLEN (returns from suspension), 3.Jason HOFFMAN (returns from suspension)

Jets defender Jason Hoffman says character will get Newcastle out of their A-League winless run.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 11.Labinot HALITI (knee – season)

#MVCvNEW

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Throughout their inconsistent season, Victory have been able to point to three home games in the last four rounds as some sort of safety net.

This Sunday is the first of those as the defending champions host Newcastle Jets, and Victory fans must surely be hoping that the safety net works.

After last week's 5-0 thumping at the hands of Brisbane Roar, Victory huffed and puffed but failed to beat an undermanned Suwon Bluewings in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night.

Victory v Suwon

Victory have won just once in their past seven Hyundai A-League games.

Unfortunately for the Big V, the Jets are perhaps not the team they want to be facing as they struggle with form.

In their past eight meetings with Newcastle, Victory have only won twice, with the Jets claiming all three points on two of their past three visits to Melbourne.

At the end of February, the Jets looked to be mounting a late charge towards the finals but consecutive defeats to Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers leave them seven points adrift of sixth-placed Victory ahead of Sunday's clash at AAMI Park.

Victory players look on after conceding a late goal against the Jets earlier in the season.

Newcastle regain defenders Daniel Mullen and Jason Hoffman from suspension, while Victory winger Kosta Barbarouses is also back from a ban.

The hosts will be without Daniel Georgievski and Rashid Mahazi (both suspension), however, plus Nick Ansell (quadriceps) is sore following the Suwon game.

OPTA DATA

  • After winning their last encounter with the Jets, Victory will now be aiming for back-to-back wins against Newcastle for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
  • In none of the last eight A-League matches between these clubs has either team managed to score more than two goals in a game.
  • Victory have conceded just four goals at home in their past seven games in all competitions.
  • The Jets have won both of their last two excursions to Melbourne, securing one away victory each against Victory and City.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Despite Newcastle's relative improvement since the start of February, Scott Miller's side remain a work in progress up front.

The Jets have won three and drawn one of their past six games.

Jets players celebrate Steven Ugarković's goal in their 1-0 win over the Mariners.

But they have been held scoreless in nine of their last 15 A-League matches, including in their two most recent fixtures.

Milos Trifunovic (9 goals) has been the focal point up front this season but Miller needs more scoreboard impact from the likes of Leonardo (0 goals, 16 games), Enver Alivodic (1, 23) and Ryan Kitto (1, 14).

Victory haven't hit the back of the net in two straight games and every week seems to add weight to the idea that Besart Berisha is struggling physically.

Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha in action against the Mariners in Round 22.

The marquee striker has scored just twice in Victory's last eight games in all competitions, and has only run out 90 minutes in one of their past seven fixtures.

The return of Barbarouses should improve the home side's attacking set-up on Sunday after he missed the past two A-League games through suspension.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Jesse Makarounas. The Victory midfielder was one of the highlights versus Suwon Bluewings in his first start for the club since December 27. Makarounas is in the squad to face Newcastle.

FORM LINES (ALL COMPETITIONS)

Melbourne Victory: DLDWL

Newcastle Jets: DWWLL

PREDICTION

Melbourne Victory 2-1 Newcastle Jets