What the opening round derby will tell us about Melbourne City
There is a new coach at the helm and a new feel about Melbourne City, who will be aiming to break new ground next season.
Experienced Frenchman Erick Mombaerts has arrived at the dugout to end the club's Hyundai A-League silverware drought, and to do so in style.
City could well prove to be the league's entertainers in 2019/20, and here's three matches the club's fans and the neutrals can't afford to miss.
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Can City issue early statement of intent?
A clash against fierce local rivals Melbourne Victory in Round 1 is the first big test in waiting for Mombaerts, who will be eager to see his charges make a statement at Marvel Stadium.
It is the first chance for the club to put their new coach's plans into action against a top-quality opponent, who are also undergoing an evolution of significant proportions following the departure of Kevin Muscat and arrival of Marco Kurz.
A winning start against Victory would be the perfect boost of confidence City may need to instil belief that they have the quality to fight for the title, and could well unleash two contenders for the Golden Boot race in City's Jamie Maclaren and Victory's Andrew Nabbout.
City prevailed 2-1 over the enemy in their Round 1 meeting last season courtesy of some Riley McGree brilliance, and it could well fall to these pair of Caltex Socceroo strikers to make the difference.
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Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City
Round 1 - Saturday, October 12, 2019
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST
How will City fare in first away trip?
City turned AAMI Park into a home fortress last season, but the club were too often caught lacking on their travels and picked up just four away wins.
Transforming City's record on the road will be a big area of focus for Mombaerts. The fixture list has been kind to Melbourne, however, with the club's first five fixtures being played in Victoria.
City does not leave the state until November 17, where they face Robbie Fowler's Brisbane Roar at Dolphin Stadium. Having lost this fixture 2-0 last season, the Melburnians will be desperate to show that they're made of sterner stuff on their first venture outside of the state.
Brisbane Roar FC v Melbourne City FC
Round 6 - Sunday, November 17, 2019
Kick-off: 3.00pm AEDT, 4:00pm AEST
Can City mark progress and banish painful memories?
We will be seventeen rounds into the Mombaerts revolution by the time City return to Coopers Stadium, the scene of last season's gut-wrenching Semi Final exit to Adelaide United.
In Mombaerts and new Reds boss Gertjan Verbeek, the two clubs have appointed coaches committed to transforming playing style, and this clash should give a great insight into which one has been more successful at a critical point of the season.
Both Adelaide and City were second and fourth lowest scorers in 2018/19, and their Semi-Final deadlock of last season highlighted each sides shortcomings in the final third. Fast forward to February and we will get a clear demonstration of their progress.
Adelaide United v Melbourne City FC
Round 17 - Saturday, February 1, 2019
Kick-off: 7.00pm ACST, 7.30pm AEST