Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
As good as Melbourne performed in Adelaide last weekend, Victory can take nothing for granted going into the second leg of the Major Semi-Final, despite holding a 2-0 lead in the tie.
Date: Saturday, February 14 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT Venue: Telstra Dome, Melbourne TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, Sky Sport 3 and ABC Radio. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head 16 Hyundai A-League meetings: Adelaide - 5 wins, Melbourne - 8 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium, Major Semi-Final first leg, February 2009
Finals meetings: Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium, Major Semi-Final first leg, 2008/09 Melbourne Victory 6, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Grand Final, 2006/07 Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Major Semi-Final second leg, 2006/07 Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Major Semi-Final first leg, 2006/07
Past Five Games Adelaide: Round 19: Adelaide United 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 20: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium Major-Semi (Leg 1): Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium
Melbourne Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome Round 19: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 20: Melbourne Victory 3, Central Coast Mariners 0, Telstra Dome Round 21: Melbourne Victory 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, Telstra Dome Major-Semi (Leg 1): Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis As good as Melbourne performed in Adelaide last weekend, Victory can take nothing for granted going into the second leg of the Major Semi-Final, despite holding a 2-0 lead in the tie.
From the moment Srebre Delovski put his whistle to his lips to signal the end of the first leg, the lid has been firmly on for the Hyundai A-League Premiers. There is no complacency about Melbourne's position, and Ernie Merrick wants a win in the second leg to make sure of it.
History says Adelaide faces a particularly tough task trying to reverse its fortunes in this match. The Reds have lost all four matches against Melbourne this year and have only beaten Victory once in the past 11 matches. Last week's loss was their heaviest against Melbourne since the 6-0 drubbing they copped in the 2006/07 Grand Final.
Kristian Sarkies and Michael Valkanis were both injured in the first leg and will miss here, while Aurelio Vidmar wants to keep his options open in this match, bringing in six players, Robert Cornthwaite, Cassio, Diego, Angelo Costanzo, Jonas Salley and Robert Younis into an extended squad.
Ernie Merrick believes Melbourne is playing its best football at the moment and the stats which read six wins from seven matches and six home wins in a row bear that out. Danny Allsopp keeps scoring goals, Archie Thompson keeps setting them up, Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak are in control of a dominant midfield and Kevin Muscat and Rody Vargas are like a wall in defence. Michael Theoklitos has been in excellent form, completing a spine which all going well this weekend will get a chance to win a Championship in front of its home fans.
Leigh Broxham, Nathan Elasi and Michael Thwaite come into an extended squad, while Carlos Hernandez will probably not start given he will only get back from international duty on the day of the game. Ney Fabiano or Grant Brebner could be in line for a start in his place.
Melbourne Victory Squad: 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.Sebastian RYALL, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD.
*Three to be omitted.
In: Michael THWAITE (promoted), Nathan ELASI (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (promoted). Out: Nil. Unavailable: Nil.
Adelaide United Squad: 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.Paul AGOSTINO, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Jonas SALLEY, 16.Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 22. DIEGO, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 27.Michael MARRONE, 28.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 30.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) * 4 to be omitted.
In: Robert CORNTHWAITE (returns from suspension), CASSIO (returns from injury), Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), Jonas SALLEY (promoted), Robert YOUNIS (promoted), DIEGO (returns from injury).
Out: Kristian SARKIES (ankle - 3 weeks), Michael VALKANIS (calf - 2 weeks).
Unavailable: Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee - season), Jason SPAGNUOLO (long term injury).