Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Victory's team is packed with big-game players who have done it on the biggest stage and they will be ready to strut their stuff in front of a massive crowd at AAMI Park.
Date: Sunday January 9 Kick-off: 3:00pm (AEDT) Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 1 from 2:30pm (AEDT) Radio: 774 ABC and www.sen.com.au Live Match Centre: www.melbournevictory.com.au
Head-to-head Played 22: Melbourne Victory 14, Adelaide United 5, 3 draws
Previous Meeting Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 1, Etihad Stadium, October 2010
Why we don't like 'em Quite simply they are Victory's biggest rivals on the pitch even if Ernie Merrick's men have dominated proceedings between the teams in recent times. Including this season's come-from-behind win at Docklands, Melbourne have won the past 10 - that's right, 10 - games between the teams and the clash before that was a draw, meaning Adelaide haven't tasted success against their fiercest enemies since mid-October 2007!
Victory supporters still haven't forgotten either that Adelaide prevailed in all three of the battles between the teams in Season One of the Hyundai A-League back in 2005-06, as well as in a certain visit to Etihad Stadium the following season when then-Reds coach John Kosmina and Kevin Muscat had a difference of opinion after the ball went over the sideline.
Two grand final triumphs over the Reds, including the unforgettable one in 2006-07 when Archie Thompson bagged five goals in the 6-0 demolition still weigh heavily on Adelaide United minds as well, while goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and midfielder Joe Keenan are both former Melbourne players who are unlikely to play because of injury concerns.
Past five matches Melbourne Victory: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Westpac Stadium Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Victory 2, Bluetongue Stadium Melbourne Victory 2, Newcastle Jets 1, AAMI Park Melbourne Victory 2, Perth Glory 0, AAMI Park Melbourne Heart 1, Melbourne Victory 3, AAMI Park
Adelaide United: Adelaide United 0, Brisbane Roar 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Adelaide Oval Central Coast Mariners 2, Adelaide United 0, Bluetongue Stadium Perth Glory 4, Adelaide United 2, nib Stadium Adelaide United 1, Melbourne Heart 2, Hindmarsh Stadium
Decisions for Ernie While it wouldn't have been easy to sit through, Wellington's 2-0 win over Victory in New Zealand on Wednesday night may well prove a blessing in disguise. Speaking after the loss, Ernie said while the Victory was physically OK, mentally they were tired and played like it.
One certain starter to come back into the team will be skipper Kevin Muscat, who was rested against the Phoenix. His return may see the Victory revert to a preferred 3-4-3 formation.
Petar Franjic, Matthew Foschini and Geoff Kellaway have been named in an extended squad. Foschini in particular has impressed at youth level and may be an option at right-back if Ernie decides to stick with the back four played against Wellington. Danny Allsopp saw 56 minutes of action in New Zealand and is pushing hard for a starting spot.
Behind Enemy Lines After starting the season in blistering form, Adelaide United has found things very tough of late losing four of their last five matches. Their only win in that period was a victory over strugglers Sydney FC. However much they want to downplay it, the Reds are fully aware of our 10-match winning run against them and considering their current form, a clash against the Victory at our new fortress AAMI Park isn't ideal.
They have been boosted by the inclusion of new imports Andy Slory and Francisco Usucar, who boast fine pedigrees. Former Victory man Joe Keenan will miss the clash after breaking his leg against Brisbane Roar.
Our Hero Carlos Hernandez - With Robbie Kruse on Asian Cup duty and Adelaide's long-time nemesis Archie Thompson out injured, we've got a pretty good third-choice hero in Hernandez. The Costa Rican will be fired up for the clash, having not enjoyed one of his better games against the Phoenix. The mercurial attacker seems to produce virtuoso performances week-in, week-out at AAMI Park, with the new stadium proving a happy hunting ground for both him and the Victory. His set piece ability is well-known and a goal in this clash would prove a popular one.
Danger Man Andy Slory - The Dutch winger has picked the perfect occasion to make his Reds debut. There is no bigger rivalry in the A-League than Victory against Adelaide. Capped two times by Holland, Slory boasts a fine track-record, having been an instrumental figure during Excelsior's second division (Eerste Divisie) championship in 2005-06. His success there saw him move to Dutch giants Feyenoord, where he won the Dutch Cup and made 50 appearances. Comes to Australia with plenty to prove having seen his career stall following disappointing stints with West Brom in England and Bulgarian club Levski Sofia.
Why we will win Because the record books and recent form (barring that Wellington blip) says we will. Victory has simply dominated Adelaide United to such an extent we represent a real hoodoo for the Reds. Even the arrival of Dutch coach Rini Coolen hasn't helped break the streak as Victory find new ways to come away with the three points. Coolen is set to roll the dice and start both Slory and Usucar, who both won't be fully match-fit, something that may well play into Victory's hands.
The mid-week loss to Wellington will have left Ernie and the boys smarting, and it may well prove the necessary wake-up call provided before the finals series.
On the team front, look for Danny Allsopp to make a real push for a starting berth, especially after getting nearly an hour under his belt in New Zealand. He'll be better for the run and champing at the bit to play Adelaide. As too skipper Kevin Muscat, who missed the Wellington game, while Matthew Kemp is another that would have appreciated some good time on the park after missing a couple of weeks through injury.
Victory's team is packed with big-game players who have done it on the biggest stage and they will be ready to strut their stuff in front of a massive crowd at AAMI Park. Victory to come away with the three points - again.
Teams Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT, 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 8. Grant BREBNER, 9. RICARDINHO, 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERRERIA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 18. Danny ALLSOPP, 19. Evan BERGER, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 22. Geoff KELLAWAY, 23. Adrian LEIJER
In: Kevin MUSCAT, Petar FRANJIC, Matthew FOSCHINI, Geoff KELLAWAY (all promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring - 3 weeks), Surat SUKHA (calf - 3 weeks) Robbie KRUSE (international duty - 4 weeks)
Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andy SLORY, 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR *one to be omitted*
In: Andy SLORY (new signing), Francisco USUCAR (new signing) Out: Nigel BOOGAARD (groin - 1 week), Joe KEENAN (broken leg - season) Unavailable: Daniel MULLEN (knee - season), Mathew LECKIE (knee - 4 weeks), Joe COSTA (knee - season)