With the Asian Cup out of sight, but not out of mind; the A-League returns to a full-fixture weekend with something of a point to prove as a competition. It is a week made for the Melbourne Derby. As one of the two truly premier fixtures of the competition along with the Sydney Derby, the match allows the league to prove that the momentum generated by the Socceroos’ Asian Cup triumph will translate into growth of the domestic game.
As far as the two teams involved are concerned, the match is also highly important in the contexts of their respective seasons. For the Victory, their hopes of clinching top spot away from Perth Glory took a slight beating as they were unable to hold onto a 3-1 lead away at the nib Stadium, forfeiting a chance to move within a point of their title rivals. Clearly missing Mark Milligan and Matthieu Delpierre defensively, Muscat may look to axe Nathan Coe for the game in favour of Lawrence Thomas.
For City, the derby provides them with a chance to cement their top six credentials as they battle out for two finals spots with Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar. Three points on Saturday night would keep them out of Brisbane Roar’s clutches. Iain Ramsay is likely to lose his spot after having a bit of a shocker last week, while Josh Kennedy is expected to make his debut off the bench. Tando Velaphi returns from suspension and should retake the starting place.
Played: 14. Melbourne Victory: (5). Draw: (4). Melbourne City: (5).
Victory: LWLWD. City: WDWLW
Victory: Mark Milligan (Suspension: 1 week), Mathieu Delpierre (injury)
City: Ben Garuccio (Ankle: 2-3 weeks), Rob Wielart (Ankle: 2-3 weeks), James Brown (Knee: 1-2 weeks), Mate Dugandzic (Knee: 1-2 weeks).
Geria – Leijer – Ansell – Georgievski
Valeri – Broxham
Barbarouses – Finkler – Ben Khalfallah.
Hoffman – Chapman – Kisnorbo – Clisby
Melling – Paartalu – Mooy
Duff – Koren – Williams
Dominated the 5-2 derby last time these two sides played at Etihad Stadium, and after an indifferent run of form recently he will be raring to make an impact in another big game occasion – and Berisha loves big game occasions, as seen in his history in the A-League for both the Roar and the Victory.
I’ll predict Victory to prevail 2-1, but this fixture in the past has thrown up a plethora of inconceivable results in the past. However, on paper Victory’s line-up looks the best in the league when all the pieces of the puzzle come together – but their consistency has often left a lot to be desired. City took advantage of that just before Christmas in the last derby claiming a surprise 1-0 win, and will be hoping to make the match a tight affair once again, so another late goal could also be the difference between these two sides.
Melbourne City have never won two Melbourne derbies in a row. Saturday night’s fixture provides them with their fifth chance to do so.Google+