Melbourne Derby: 3 key match ups

Victory ruled the Hyundai A-League - and Melbourne - last season but City is keen to lay down a marker for this campaign in a blockbuster Melbourne Derby at Etihad on Saturday night.

We look ahead to the three crucial match-ups which will go a long way to deciding which side of Melbourne will be celebrating come around 9.30pm Saturday night.

Victory skipper Carl Valeri v City’s marquee Aussie Aaron Mooy

Valeri returns from injury at the perfect time for Victory.

If anyone can contain the supreme talent that Mooy has become in the A-League it’s the ex-Socceroos holding midfielder.

Valeri will be extra motivated with the skipper’s armband this season and will lead by his actions rather than anything he can say on the pitch. Putting the brakes on Mooy would be a good start.

After coming off the bench last week, the City playmaker will be good to go from the start after a week's rest following his Jordan trip with the Socceroos, and will be the man that carries much of City’s hopes on his shoulders.

Everything good JVS’ side does more often goes through Mooy and his passing range and ability to tackle and break up play in the middle of the park is arguably the best in the A-League. 

Melbourne Derby

Victory defender Matthieu Delpierre v City striker Bruno Fornaroli

The importance of the French defender to Victory takes on even greater significance in this one.

With Leigh Broxham suspended, Delpierre will have a central-defensive partner and his big-game experience will need to come to the fore.

One of the keys to Victory’s title-success last season, Delpierre doesn’t look like slowing down in 2015/16 if his Round 1 performance is anything to go by. 

He didn’t give Reds striker Eli Babalj a sniff, making five crucial clearances and completing 45 passes out of defence in another classy display.

Delpierre is sure to get a good test though against the City attacker known as ‘The Prickly Pear’.

Fornaroli joined City in the off-season, bringing with him a good goal-scoring record and excellent pedigree from a long-career in Europe and South America.

He set-up City’s goal against Sydney last week and will view the derby as the perfect stage to open his A-League account. 

The Uruguayan has the pace and touch to trouble Victory’s back four, but will he be able to produce the goods in the derby?

Melbourne Derby

Victory striker Besart Berisha v City skipper Patrick Kisnorbo

It didn’t take long for Berisha to stamp himself on the Melbourne derby after joining Victory last season. The Albanian international scored five goals in his four games against City last season, all of them coming at Etihad Stadium.

Berisha lives for the big occasion and there’s isn’t much bigger in the A-League regular season than this fixture. He will annoy the life out of City’s back-four with his energy, passion and simple desire to win.

If Berisha is one of the more combustible players in the competition, then the City skipper is not far behind. Kisnorbo won’t back down from any challenge put in front of him, which makes him the ideal defender to try and stop Berisha.

While not as quick as in his hey-day, the ex-Socceroo defender will use all his know-how and street-smarts to get the better of the Victory man. It will make for compelling viewing.