Preview: Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory

Last year's Melbourne made a game out of beating up on Adelaide United, defeating its rival on an extraordinary six occasions, including three times during the final series.


Date: Friday September 18 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST (7:30pm ACST) Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (HD) and Sky Sports 1 (HD). To purchase tickets visit www.venuetix.com.au

Head-to-head Played 18: Wins: Melbourne 10, Adelaide 5. Draws: 3

Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, 2008/09 Hyundai A-League Grand Final, February 2009

Last five matches: Adelaide United: Round 2: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, SFS Round 3: Adelaide United 0, Gold Coast United 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 4: Adelaide United 3, North Queensland Fury 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 5: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium Round 6: Adelaide United 1, Central Coast Mariners 0, Hindmarsh Stadium

Melbourne Victory: Round 2: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 3, Etihad Stadium Round 3: North Queensland Fury 1, Melbourne Victory 0, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 4: Perth Glory 2, Melbourne Victory 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 5: Melbourne Victory 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Etihad Stadium Round 6: Melbourne Victory 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Etihad Stadium

Analysis: Last year's Melbourne made a game out of beating up on Adelaide United, defeating its rival on an extraordinary six occasions, including three times during the final series. The culmination was perhaps the closest game of any of those encounters, where Tom Pondeljak's wonder strike separated the champions from the vanquished at the end of the season.

Over the past couple of years, these sides have been extremely close in terms of ladder position, but Melbourne has had the wood over Adelaide. In the past 13 head to head matches in the Hyundai A-League, Melbourne has only once suffered defeat, that being at Hindmarsh Stadium in October 2007.

But talk of psychological holds has been put on the back burner at Melbourne this week. Coach Ernie Merrick knows history will be no help and that all that matters at the moment is getting three points from this match. With just six points from the first six matches, Melbourne needs another win to kickstart its championship defence.

Will the addition of Kevin Muscat be the difference? Well, the skipper is likely to return for this match after missing the past five with a hamstring tear. He will slot into a defence which has kept only the one clean sheet so far this year and which Merrick admits, has struggled from set-pieces. Adelaide tends to create its best chances from the dead-ball, so if Muscat does play, his on-field leadership can only be a positive thing. Matthew Foschini has also been added to an extended squad.

Up the other end, Robbie Kruse has the benefit of a game under his belt for his new side, while Carlos Hernandez is better prepared to play a strong 90 minutes after coming into last weekend's 1-1 draw with Wellington off the back of a trip back from Central America.

The Adelaide side looms as quite a different one to that which crashed on six occasions to Melbourne last year. Former Sydney defenders Iain Fyfe and Mark Rudan have been added at the back, while Lloyd Owusu's presence up front makes the Reds look a lot quicker in attack. Travis Dodd, as usual, will be steering the ship and is nearing full fitness again after a match back from a calf injury.

Defender Robbie Cornthwaite, who is well familiar with Victory fans, returns after a two-match suspension, while Kristian Sarkies could play his first game of the year. The former Victory man has had a tough start to the season with a calf injury, but will no doubt be keen to show up against his former club.

The Reds are without injured trio Paul Reid, Michael Marrone and Fabian Barbiero, while Daniel Mullen is off with Victory's striker Nathan Elasi at the Under 20 World Cup.

Adelaide United Squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8. Kristian SARKIES, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 16.Inseob SHIN, 19. Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Mark RUDAN *one to be omitted* In: Robert CORNTHWAITE (returns from suspension), Kristian SARKIES (returns from injury), Mathew LECKIE (promoted from NYL) Out: Paul REID (thigh/quad - 3 weeks), Michael MARRONE (knee - 4 weeks) Unavailable: Daniel MULLEN (international duty), Fabian BARBIERO (calf - 1 week)

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER *two to be omitted*

In: Kevin MUSCAT (return from injury), Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted)

Out: Nil

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