Melbourne Victory must start stringing wins together if they are to claim back-to-back Hyundai A-League Premierships, but can they end Adelaide United's 11-match unbeaten streak on Friday night?
Friday, 19 February 2016
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM (AEDT))
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant Referee 1: Nathan MacDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Lindsay
Fourth Official: Shaun Evans
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS TWO from 7:30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, 891 ABC Adelaide, ABC Local Radio Vic, ABC Local Radio SA Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio).
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MVCvADL
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS (promoted), 23.Jai INGHAM (promoted), 24.Thomas DENG (promoted)
Outs: 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: 21.Carl VALERI (ill – season)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 6.Stefan MAUK, 7.PABLO SANCHEZ, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.George MELLS, 15.Ben WARLAND, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Mate DUGANDZIC, 20.John HALL (gk), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 23.Jordan ELSEY, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 25.Ruon TONGYIK
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 21.Tarek ELRICH (returns from suspension), 25.Ruon TONGYIK (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Iacopo LA ROCCA (suspended – 3 matches), 19.Eli BABALJ (knee – season)
If Victory are to defend the Hyundai A-League Premiership, they will need to take points off top-six rivals over the final eight rounds -they get their first chance on Friday night against the Reds.
Kevin Muscat's Victory face current top-six sides five times in the run to the finals, with four of those games coming on home soil, and they must convert every opportunity if they are to finish top of the pile this season.
Victory (29 points) are closer to slipping out of the top six heading into Round 20 than reeling in leaders Brisbane Roar (35).
Adelaide haven't beaten Victory in nine meetings in all competitions but Guillermo Amor's Reds shouldn't lack confidence as they haven't lost in 11 A-League games.
In fact, Victory were the last team to defeat Adelaide back in November.
The visitors will be without defender Iacopo La Rocca again as he serves the second of his three-game ban for elbowing Sydney FC striker Matt Simon.
It will be interesting to see how the Reds handle his absence after conceding twice versus Central Coast Mariners last week.
Victory enter the match on a three-game win-less run in the A-League and will miss winger Kosta Barbarouses, who is suspended after accumulating too many yellow cards.
- Victory have won 14 of their last 18 home matches against Adelaide in the A-league, losing only once
- Victory are undefeated in their last 10 home matches in the A-League
- Adelaide have conceded four goals in their last two games but just eight in their past 11
ROUTE TO GOAL
Adelaide leapfrogged Victory last week to sit third heading into this contest, and somehow Amor's team have surged up the A-League table without having one player among the competition's top 10 goal-scorers.
Marcelo Carrusca is the Reds' leading marksman with five goals this season - nine less than Victory's most prolific player Besart Berisha.
The form of Adelaide centre-forward Bruce Djite is improving with three goals in his past four A-League matches, but if the visitors are to triumph at AAMI Park, expect the Reds to share the load up front.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Gui Finkler scored Victory's goals in their 2-2 draw with City last week, while the latter should have had a second when his free-kick deflected off the bar and over the line, only for the officials to miss it.
Those goals weren't enough for Ben Khalfallah and Finkler to earn selection in Victory's AFC Champions League squad, so the attacking duo may be desperate to prove Muscat wrong.
Berisha remains the main threat, however, as Adelaide are one of the marquee striker's favourite A-League teams to play.
Only Perth Glory (12) have conceded more goals to Berisha than Adelaide, who are level with Melbourne City on 11.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Melbourne Victory fans. The behaviour of a small minority in last week's derby led to a $50,000 fine and a suspended three-point penalty.
Melbourne Victory: WWLDD
Adelaide United: WWWDW
Melbourne Victory 1-1 Adelaide United