Preview: Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory

Friday January 2, 2015
Simonds Stadium, Geelong

Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEDT)

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (GK), 2. Jason GERIA, 4. Nick ANSELL, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (C), 7. Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11. Connor PAIN, 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24. Scott GALLOWAY, 26. Jordan BROWN.

***one to be omitted***

Ins: 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 26. Jordan BROWN (all promoted)

Outs: 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (suspension – 1 match), 16. Rashid MAHAZI (hip – 1 week)

Unavailable: 5. Mark MILLIGAN (international duty) 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (ankle – 1 week), 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE (foot – 3-4 weeks)

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jack CLISBY, 3. Brandon O’NEIL, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Jamie MACLAREN, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 18. Jack DUNCAN (gk) 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Daniel DE SILVA, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c) 24. Matthew DAVIES

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC (promoted), 24. Matthew DAVIES (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 7.Youssouf HERSI (Hamstring – indefinite), 17.Mitch NICHOLS (Hamstring – 6 weeks)

Referee: Shaun Evans

Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh

Assistant Referee 2: Nathan MacDonald

Fourth Official: Patrick Chaplin
Broadcast Details

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), Live Coverage on SBS HD & SBS One from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, Local Radio VIC, 936 ABC Hobart & Northern Tasmania 720 ABC Perth & ABC Local Radio WA, Grandstand Digital, Online / ABC Radio Mobile phone app . SEN Radio

Hashtag #MVCvPER   PREVIEW   Hyundai A-League action heads down the Bellarine Penninsula and local fans have the chance to head straight from blockbuster breaks at Bells Beach to a blockbuster at Simonds Stadium as Melbourne Victory face league-leaders Perth Glory.   BLUFFER'S GUIDE

Geelong couldn’t have hoped for a better taste of A-League action than this mouth-watering one-v-two clash at Simonds Stadium. They’ve previously squared off in the Westfield FFA Cup where Glory won, with Victory now determined to cut Glory’s lead at the top of the table. Perth, on the other hand, will want to make a statement against the team widely regarded as a fellow title favourite.

For Victory, Kevin Muscat’s side will have to make do without suspended attacker Fahid Ben Khalfallah. Skipper Mark Milligan also leaves a hole in midfield on Socceroo duty.    Perth, on the other hand, welcome back key midfielder Nebojsa Marinkovic after he missed the 1-1 draw with Melbourne City FC on Boxing Day through illness. Kenny Lowe may throw in a few surprise selections though - he’ll want to keep his squad fresh as Glory face an equally tough away clash against Adelaide United just 72 hours after this match.

Perth Glory have previously been known as road bunnies but their away form against top-class opponents this season has been instrumental in them being atop the A-League ladder. Melbourne Victory are the only side in the current top six Glory haven’t played, with the club having faced all the other four teams on the road so far this season. From those four games they have recorded seven points, the only blemishes being a loss in Adelaide and the most recent 1-1 draw with Melbourne City. The only top-six side they’ve faced at home this season has been Wellington Phoenix.

Victory have the pace and guile to work their way through Perth’s defence in the form of Kosta Barbarouses, Archie Thompson and Perth’s old enemy from his Roar days, Besart Berisha. Glory have tall timber like Michael Thwaite and Dino Djulbic and while Thwaite is deceptively quick, their entire back four will be kept on their toes by Victory’s passing and movement in the front half.

Kevin Muscat’s side, though, will have to be wary of quick counter-attacking raids from Glory as they have pace down the flanks while Marinkovic’s distribution through the middle works perfectly for Andy Keogh to produce results up front. Indeed, the last time these sides played in the FFA Cup quarter-final, it was Keogh who delivered the goods, scoring a brace in what proved to be a 4-2 extra-time win.

Guilherme Finkler. It was the Brazilian playmaker who delivered the goods for Victory in their last clash against the Jets, confidently stroking home a late free-kick from the edge of the area to give the Big V a 1-0 win in a game where their form didn’t reach any great heights.

Glory haven’t lost in the league since Round 3 when they fell to Adelaide United, the WA side also losing away to the Reds in the FFA Cup Final. Victory on the other hand responded to a 1-0 loss to Melbourne City by beating the Jets by the same score-line last Saturday night.

Perth Glory haven’t beaten Victory in the league since March 2013 when Josh Risdon produced a 90th-minute stunner for a thrilling 3-2 win. Since that time, Glory have lost three of the four clashes between these sides.

PREDICTION Victory 2-2 Glory

For ladder leaders Perth, this game starts what appears to be a season-defining sequence of matches where they face Victory twice – the second game is after the Asian Cup on Jan 25 - either side of an away clash to Adelaide United. 

Lose those three matches and they’ll give up top spot on the table to Victory and that six-point buffer at the top they enjoyed at Christmas – one they worked so hard to get – will have been thrown away. 

While Perth’s record has been good this season, there’s always been question marks over their place at the top as they haven’t played Victory. 

Those questions will now be answered over the next three games. But if Perth can break even with Kevin Muscat’s side, they’ll still enjoy a handy buffer at the top leading into the season’s second half.

Victory then, will probably be the more desperate to earn the win, as they’ll want to eat into Glory’s current four-point lead at the top. 

Key striker Berisha has also endured something of a lean spell by his standards, but he loves playing against the boys in purple. 

Expect there to be some drama.