Western Sydney could ramp-up the pressure on their Premiership rivals with a win in Melbourne on Friday night. Only problem is Victory have the measure of the Wanderers at home.
Friday, 25 March 2016
Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Brennan
Assistant Referee 2: Wilson Brown
Fourth Official: Jonathan Barreiro
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS TWO from 7:30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 4 (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 #MVCvWSW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG, 32.Stefan NIGRO
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (returns from suspension), 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (returns from injury), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (returns from suspension), 32.Stefan NIGRO (promoted)
Outs: 2.Jason GERIA (international duty – 1 week), 10.Archie THOMPSON (illness – 1 week)
Unavailable: 4.Nick ANSELL (quad), 21.Carl VALERI (ill – season)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15.Kearyn BACCUS,16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 30.Liam REDDY (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Brendan HAMILL (promoted), 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted)
Table positions would indicate this match is an open-and-shut case and few would back Victory to get a result against the Hyundai A-League leaders.
But a closer inspection of Western Sydney's form indicates the Wanderers might just struggle at AAMI Park.
They started the season brilliantly, with their opening 12 games resulting in eight wins, two draws and two defeats; but in their past 12 matches, Tony Popovic's side have split their results evenly.
In fact, the Wanderers have only won twice in their past seven fixtures, while their record away to Victory isn't great - just one win in five games.
Victory have triumphed in four of the past six meetings between these two clubs but this season's previous two games have resulted in a Wanderers win at Pirtek Stadium and a draw in Melbourne.
On Saturday night, Western Sydney failed to make the most of their dominance of Adelaide United in a scoreless draw, although that point was enough to take Popovic's men into pole position with three rounds until the A-League finals.
A win against Victory - who stuttered to a 1-1 stalemate with 10-man Newcastle Jets on Sunday - could be the result that effectively clinches the Premiers Plate for the Wanderers, as they face the A-League's bottom two sides in their last two games.
- Wanderers haven't won away to Victory since their opening A-League season - four straight matches.
- Besart Berisha's goal against Newcastle - his 16th of the campaign - saw him set a new record for most goals scored by a Victory player in a single season.
- Western Sydney have kept just one clean sheet in their past seven A-League road trips, although it came in their last away game when they defeated the Jets 1-0.
- Victory have won just two of nine A-League games at AAMI Park this season.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Victory's relatively toothless attack was again on display versus the Jets last week, with Kevin Muscat's side managing only 10 shots and one on target against a Newcastle outfit that played over a half with just 10 players.
Generally, the reigning champions seem to move the ball too slowly to open up opposition defences, while the decline of veteran Archie Thompson (11 goals in 2014-15, 1 goal in 2015-16) has also been a factor for Victory.
Western Sydney's scoreless draw with Adelaide extended the goal drought of the Wanderers' two leading marksmen.
Mark Bridge and Mitch Nichols (both nine goals) have failed to hit the back of the net in the Wanderers' past five matches, and Popovic will surely be hoping they rediscover their best form soon with finals around the corner.
With marquee forwards Federico Piovaccari (2) and Dario Vidosic (3) having been less than brilliant this campaign – the Italian in particular - it could be time for Western Sydney to start Brendon Santalab up front, with Bridge to move to the left wing.
Santalab has scored six goals in 2015-16 but has started just one A-League match.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Gui Finkler. He’s leaving Victory at the end of the season to join Phoenix.
Melbourne Victory: LDWLD
Western Sydney Wanderers: DWLWD
Melbourne Victory 1-1 Western Sydney Wanderers