Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
The rescheduling of this match has actually provided a better setting for this traditional battle with top spot on the line.
Date: Tuesday, January 6 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT Venue: Telstra Dome, Melbourne TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. FRESH FM (Adelaide) 92.7FM (www.freshfm.com.au) To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head 14 Hyundai A-League meetings: Adelaide - 5 wins, Melbourne - 6 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 10, October 2008
Past Five Games Melbourne Round 13: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 16: Newcastle Jets 4, Melbourne Victory 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 17: Melbourne Victory 3, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome
Adelaide Round 12: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 14: Adelaide United 6, Wellington Phoenix 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 0, Adelaide United 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 18: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Adelaide Oval
Analysis The rescheduling of this match has actually provided a better setting for this traditional battle with top spot on the line. Adelaide has a one-point buffer over Melbourne heading into this match with the victor here to have a clear edge in the battle for the Hyundai A-League premiership.
Considering that in the previous three Hyundai A-League seasons that 30 points has been enough to make the finals, then a win for either side would all but seal a spot in the post-season action with just a few matches remaining.
That is the first target for these two teams which have been near the top of the ladder for most of the season. Melbourne has got back to its best form after putting together two successive home wins while Adelaide has gone unbeaten through its past five matches, winning four of them, in a period spliced around their FIFA World Club Championship commitments. Opponents have been waiting for the Reds' torrid schedule to take its toll, but there are no signs of that, with Aurelio Vidmar's men looking composed and fresh in the 2-0 win over Sydney on the weekend.
Despite the three-day break between games, Vidmar has gone with basically the same line-up, including experienced defender Angelo Costanzo in his squad for this match with one to be omitted.
Melbourne has taken a similar approach, bringing in Grant Brebner and Jose Luis Lopez into an extended 17-man squad. Ernie Merrick has no concerns over the ability of his players to back up from the 2-1 win against Queensland, which was played just four days ago on a less-than-ideal surface.
After three successive losses in the lead-up to Christmas, things are very much on the up around the Victory following those two recent home wins. Archie Thompson was devastating against the Roar and the Reds will need no reminder of his abilities given his five-goal haul against them in the Grand Final two years ago.
Melbourne also has the confidence of two victories over United this year under its belt. After a Kevin Muscat goal (from a rebounded penalty) separated the teams in the first match, the Victory came from 2-1 down to win at Hindmarsh Stadium in October. Vidmar will be reminding his defenders to keep their heads with three of the four goals the Reds have conceded this season against Melbourne coming as a result of penalties.
Adelaide has won just one of its past nine matches against Melbourne, something that both sides may have on their minds in the build-up to this match.
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, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD
In: Grant BREBNER (promoted), Jose Luis LOPEZ (promoted) Out: - Unavailable: -
Adelaide United Squad 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 6.CASSIO, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 16.Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 60.Matthew NASH. * 1 to be omitted.
In: Angelo COSTANZO (promoted)
Unavailable: Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) (ankle - 4 weeks), DIEGO (quad - 1 week), Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee - season), Jonas SALLEY (achilles - 1 week)