Same again for Victory

Melbourne Victory is set to go into Tuesday's opening Asian Champions League match against Beijing Guoan in China with close to the same XI it took into Thursday's 2-1 win over Sydney.

Melbourne Victory is set to go into Tuesday's opening Asian Champions League match against Beijing Guoan in China with close to the same XI it took into Thursday's 2-1 win over Sydney.

While Melbourne may have had its injury troubles in recent weeks and goes into the match without Robbie Kruse, Archie Thompson and Matthew Kemp, it has picked up no further injuries and expects to have a full squad to pick from in the ACL opener. Rody Vargas has experienced no further pain in his calf, while the rest of the squad travelled to China without incident.

Coach Ernie Merrick said he will stick with the same players who served him well in the first leg of the major semi-final and won't change his attacking approach to the game despite the game being played in another hemisphere in temperatures that are expected to be close to freezing.

"When you play as many games as we've played over the past five years with a proven goalscoring record, our style of play we won't change," Merrick said. "I think that's the way the better teams in Europe now play. The lesser teams play conservative football all the time."

"Playing attacking football has been very successful for us and so I'm not going to change that. But it's not all about attacking. We're getting even better defending in the back third really well and getting our attacking midfielders to do a defensive job."

Part of the reason why Merrick wants to stick with the same team which beat Sydney is that he sees similarities between the way that the Sky Blues and Beijing play.

"I think we have to be patient. They are similar to Sydney, the way the come across and pressure centrally and on the flank and leave exposed the other side. They are very good at smothering the ball and it's very hard to pass out of defence, so you tend to have to play longer balls," he said.

"We feel it's not too dissimilar to Sydney except it's a different formation. But the way they close down and defend that back third and then spring forward is a Sydney type style of game. It's fortunate that we did well against Sydney so recently."

Having heavily researched Beijing's style of game, the other challenge is getting used to playing in the local conditions. The temperature at kick-off will be around zero, while the surface of the Beijing Workers Stadium is expected to be hard and bumpy.

However, Merrick is confident that his players will have the fitness to cope with any challenge the pitch or weather may throw at them and will have a fitness edge over their opponents, who are yet to begin their season.

"I think the leg fitness is a plus for us, given that we shouldn't forget that we've played 27 rounds of football plus another 15 pre-season games. Our boys know how each other play, they are very sharp. Very battle hardened," he said.

"Beijing aren't battle-hardened. They haven't kicked a ball in anger. They've played a few friendly practice games in preparations, but they haven't played one season game yet. We think the fitness and strength will be with us."