Preview: Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
The Victory's recent away form doesn't read well with four consecutive losses in Wellington, Newcastle and Perth twice but their one trip to Adelaide this year yielded a 3-2 victory.
Date: Saturday, February 7 Kick-off: 6:30pm ACDT, 7:00pm AEST Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is FRESH FM (Adelaide) and SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. To purchase tickets visit www.venuetix.com.au
Head-to-head 15 Hyundai A-League meetings: Adelaide - 5 wins, Melbourne - 7 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Round 15, January 2009
Finals meetings: Melbourne Victory 6, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Grand Final, 2006/07 Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Major Semi-Final - Leg 2, 2006/07 Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Major Semi-Final - Leg 1, 2006/07
Past Five Games Adelaide: Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome Round 19: Adelaide United 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 20: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Melbourne: Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome Round 19: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 20: Melbourne Victory 3, Central Coast Mariners 0, Telstra Dome Round 21: Melbourne Victory 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, Telstra Dome
Analysis The only thing which separated the top two teams at season's end was goals scored. Both had 38 points, and both had a goal difference of plus-12, but Melbourne was granted the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League Premiership based on the fact it had scored eight more goals than the Reds over the 21 games.
The Reds' first chance to avenge that comes in a home Major Semi-Final this week against a team which has beaten it three times this year. All three matches have been decided by just the one goal but there is no doubting Melbourne's recent dominance over the Reds having lost just one of the past 10 matches between the two teams. These teams have met 15 times over the four years of the A-League, with 35 goals scored in those games.
Adelaide goes into this match on the end of a busy finish to the season where it played six matches in January, winning three, drawing two and losing one. While that wasn't quite enough to secure the Premiership, the win against Central Coast 1-0 in the final round secured the double chance.
Robert Cornthwaite is the only out for Adelaide in this match, with the improved defender suspended, but Sasa Ognenovski comes back from suspension to replace him. Alemao is back from injury, while Angelo Costanzo and Daniel Mullen have been included. The other inclusion is Rostyn Griffiths, who has been signed up from England for the finals series in what could prove a masterstroke from Aurelio Vidmar.
Melbourne charged to the Premiership on the back of five wins in its past six matches, albeit all of them at home. The Victory's recent away form doesn't read as well with four consecutive losses in Wellington, Newcastle and Perth twice. In their one trip to the City of Churches this year, Melbourne won 3-2, coming from behind late in the match.
The Victory have added four to the squad which played in the final match against Wellington. Michael Thwaite, Evan Berger, Leigh Broxham and Nathan Elasi have been included with Berger the most-likely to get a berth on the bench with coach Ernie Merrick revealing the left-back is in his plans for this match.
Adelaide United Squad. 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 5.Michael VALKANIS, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8. Kristian SARKIES, 9.Paul AGOSTINO, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Jonas SALLEY, 16. Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19. Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 27. Michael MARRONE, 28. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 30.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk). *Three to be omitted.
In. ALEMAO (returns from injury), Sasa OGNENOVSKI (returns from suspension), Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (short term contract), Daniel MULLEN.
Out. Robert CORNTHWAITE (suspended).
Unavailable. 1.Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee - season), 6.CASSIO (calf - 1 week), 22.DIEGO (quad - indefinite), 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO (knee - 2 weeks).
Melbourne Victory Squad. 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.Sebastian RYALL, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD. *Four to be omitted.
In. Michael THWAITE (promoted), Nathan ELASI (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (promoted), Evan BERGER (promoted).