Hyundai A-League preview: Victory v Phoenix

Melbourne Victory will be missing skipper Carl Valeri on Melbourne Cup Eve but have a brilliant record when hosting Wellington Phoenix.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))

Referee: Alan Milliner

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream

Assistant Referee 2: Wilson Brown

Fourth Official: Kurt Ams

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne & ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), 1116 SEN (Melbourne), EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com)

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

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

James Troisi

Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 25.Sebastian PASQUALI, 27.Alastair BRAY (gk)

**Two to be omitted**

Ins: 10.James TROISI (returns from injury), 22.Stefan NIGRO (promoted), 23.Jai INGHAM (promoted)

Outs: 21.Carl VALERI (soreness – 1 week)

Unavailable: Nil

Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 18.Ben LITFIN, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21 Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON

**two to be omitted**

Ins:  5.Ryan LOWRY (promoted), 16. Louis FENTON (promoted), 18. Ben LITFIN (promoted).

Outs: 19. Tom DOYLE (hamstring - 1 week).

Unavailable: Alex RODRIGUEZ (hamstring 1-2 weeks).

Dylan Fox, Louis Fenton

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Are Melbourne Victory heading in the right direction or was last week's 2-1 win away to Adelaide United a false dawn?

Victory stunned the defending Hyundai A-League champions in Round 3 with Marco Rojas scoring in second-half stoppage time to secure three points, but the Big V couldn't back up that result on Tuesday night as they lost 2-0 to Melbourne City in their Westfield FFA Cup semi-final.

That loss continues Victory's mixed results since the A-League campaign began and Kevin Muscat's side will also enter this match without captain Carl Valeri, who has failed to recover in time for Monday night's clash at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory captain Carl Valeri on the training ground.

The big positive from Victory's past two games has been a significant increase in aggression and intensity compared to their 4-1 derby defeat a fortnight ago.

Muscat has named James Troisi in his extended squad to face Wellington Phoenix but don't be surprised if the attacking midfielder is a late withdrawal as he only had surgery on his collarbone on October 8.

Phoenix enter this clash bottom of the ladder but were unlucky to miss out against Sydney FC last week.

Wellington had two goals ruled out for offside against the Sky Blues - the second one probably should have counted - and hit the post in a strong first half, only for Milos Ninkovic to steal the points for Sydney late in the game.

Worryingly for Phoenix is that they have only won once away to Victory in 14 visits to Melbourne.

Dylan Fox, Louis Fenton

Tom Doyle drops out of Wellington's squad with a minor hamstring strain, while Louis Fenton will be a ready-made replacement for the full-back.

OPTA DATA

Victory come into this game having recorded just one home win in their last seven attempts (D4 L2)

Wellington have the lowest shot accuracy of any team this season (32%)

Your Hyundai A-League stats for Round 4

ROUTE TO GOAL

With Valeri out, Muscat may revert to his regular 4-2-3-1 formation against Phoenix after using a 4-3-3 in the FFA Cup midweek.

Could Muscat pick teenage midfielder Sebastian Pasquali ahead of Oliver Bozanic - who was lively as the central playmaker against Adelaide - if Troisi doesn't play?

Sebastian Pasquali (Melbourne Victory)

Victory striker Besart Berisha will be looking forward to this match - he has scored three times in his last three games versus Wellington.

Phoenix remain scoreless this season - hard to believe when you look at their attacking stocks - but they will be dangerous on the break on Melbourne Cup Eve with the likes  of Roy Krishna and former Victory winger Kosta Barbarouses up front.

Kosta Barbarouses on the ball during Phoenix's 2-0 loss to Perth Glory.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Kevin Muscat. Victory's boss got himself in hot water with his post-match comments regarding Luke Brattan's goal on Tuesday night. 

FORM LINES (last three league games)

Melbourne Victory: DLW

Wellington Phoenix: LLL

PREDICTION

Melbourne Victory 2-0 Wellington Phoenix