Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Melbourne's summer run of home fixtures has re-invigorated Victory post-Christmas with back-to-back wins setting up Tuesday's rescheduled Round 15 clash with Adelaide beautifully.
Date: Tuesday, January 6 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT Venue: Telstra Dome, Melbourne TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head 14 Hyundai A-League meetings: Adelaide - 5 wins, Melbourne - 6 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 10, October 2008
Past Five Games Melbourne Round 13: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 16: Newcastle Jets 4, Melbourne Victory 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 17: Melbourne Victory 3, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome
Adelaide Round 12: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 14: Adelaide United 6, Wellington Phoenix 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 0, Adelaide United 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 18: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Adelaide Oval
Analysis Melbourne's summer run of home fixtures has re-invigorated Victory post-Christmas with back-to-back wins setting up Tuesday's rescheduled Round 15 clash with Adelaide beautifully.
These two teams are top of the table, separated by just one point, meaning the victor here would take a distinct advantage in the race for the premiership and the 2010 ACL Champions League spot which goes with it.
Significantly, three points for either team would take them past 30 points in total, the amount which has been enough to make the finals in the previous three years. It means that team would be able to focus fully on grabbing that top spot.
If there were any doubts remaining after Victory's 3-2 win over an out-of-form Sydney, then they were dismissed against an in-form Queensland Roar side last Friday. After the two coaches engaged in a battle of wits for the first half, Archie Thompson split the defence, and the game open, with his brilliant cross which Danny Allsopp converted just before the hour.
What was more pleasing about that passage of play was that it started with an excellent tackle from Tom Pondeljak and also involved Carlos Hernandez. It was counter-attacking at its very best and showed that Melbourne has its confidence back. Melbourne's intelligence from set pieces was also on display as Rody Vargas slipped in for the second goal and while a hard-working Queensland side were able to pull a goal back, Melbourne could have won by much more.
Thompson did everything except score a goal late in the game and after an interrupted start to the season he is hitting his very best form at the right time of year.
So Ernie Merrick won't be making too many changes despite the short turnaround, including Grant Brebner and Jose Luis Lopez in a 17-man squad as Victory looks to extend its unbeaten run against the Reds in the Hyundai A-League to four.
However, rarely has Adelaide been in such red-hot form on a road trip to Melbourne. The Reds have won four of their past five and are showing no signs of fatigue after a busy schedule in November and December. Aurelio Vidmar won't be changing his side either despite just a three-day break between the 2-0 win over Sydney and this match. Angelo Costanzo is included in a 16-man squad.
Melbourne has won both its matches against the Reds this season against the odds, overcoming Ney Fabiano's early dismissal to win the first match 1-0 and then scoring twice in the final ten minutes to win the return match at Hindmarsh Stadium 3-2.
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, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD
In: Grant BREBNER (promoted), Jose Luis LOPEZ (promoted) Out: - Unavailable: -
Adelaide United Squad 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 6.CASSIO, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 16.Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 60.Matthew NASH. * 1 to be omitted.
In: Angelo COSTANZO (promoted)
Unavailable: Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) (ankle - 4 weeks), DIEGO (quad - 1 week), Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee - season), Jonas SALLEY (achilles - 1 week)