Preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Three matches into the new season and things couldn't be better for Melbourne and after a week off, Ernie Merrick's boys can't wait to get stuck back in.
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Date: Friday September 12 Kick-off (local time): 8:00pm AEST Venue: Telstra Dome TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 3. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head 12 A-League matches: Melbourne Victory - 4 wins, Adelaide United - 5 wins, Draws - 3
Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 2, Telstra Dome, Round 16, December 2007
Results so far Melbourne: Round 1: Sydney FC 0, Melbourne Victory 0, SFS Round 2: Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 4, Westpac Stadium Round 3: Melbourne Victory 5, Newcastle Jets 0, Telstra Dome
Adelaide: Round 1: Adelaide United 1 Perth Glory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 2: Queensland Roar 1, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 3: Adelaide United 3, Wellington Phoenix 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis Three matches into the new season and things couldn't be better for Melbourne. The Round 1 draw against Sydney has been followed by impressive wins against Wellington and Newcastle and after a week off, Ernie Merrick's boys can't wait to get stuck back in.
The buzz around the group at the moment is huge. Michael Thwaite will miss this match with an ankle injury and Jose Luis Lopez won't be back in time from international duties. Nick Ward has suffered a setback with his calf injury and is probably a fortnight away.
The much vaunted depth in this squad will be tested with Sebastian Ryall and Stephen Pace in. Ryall is likely to get the nod as Thwaite's replacement. Lopez's spot is not so clear cut, with Merrick having a few options in terms of his midfield formation. Leigh Broxham and Grant Brebner are the prime candidates for the defensive midfield spot, while Billy Celeski is also likely to play a role in that area.
Merrick is undecided whether he'll go with the four attacking players he loves to call the four hooligans, Allsopp, Thompson, Hernandez and Fabiano. He has backed his attacking instincts already this year and he will be hard pressed leaving any of them out.
Adelaide regains Diego but loses his compatriot Alemao, who has a groin injury. Daniel Mullen also comes into the squad. Like Victory, the Reds are unbeaten this year, and in fact haven't lost any competitive game since the penultimate round of last year.
After edging Perth 1-0 and then taking a point away to Queensland, Aurelio Vidmar's men hit form in the 3-0 win over Wellington. They passed the ball superbly, played some entertaining football and were rewarded with goals to Lucas Pantelis and Cristiano (two).
The Brazilian striker has been very good this year and Melbourne will be well aware of his ability to poach goals having watched first hand as he scored two against it in the pre-season match in Launceston. The other feature of that game was the accuracy of Scott Jameson from set pieces and he is sure to be a concern for the home side in this match.
Adelaide doesn't have a weak link from its imposing defence led by Angelo Costanzo, through a dynamic midfield and into the box, where Cristiano will have plenty of assistance from a fit again Paul Agostino.
Both teams will very much to be looking forward to this game in terms of seeing where they are at early in the season and Merrick has tagged this one as a six-pointer.
Melbourne Victory Squad 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 4.Steven PACE, 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, 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk).
*One to be omitted.
In. Steven PACE (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (promoted), Sebastian RYALL (promoted). Out. Jose Luis LOPEZ (international duty - 1 week), 3.Michael THWAITE (injured - ankle, one week). Unavailable. Nick WARD (calf - 1 week).
Adelaide United Squad. 20. Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2. Robert CORNTHWAITE, 4. Angelo COSTANZO, 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, 30 Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk).
In. Diego (returns from injury), Daniel Mullen. Out. Alemao (groin - 2 week). Unavailable. Daniel Beltrame (knee - season), Isyan Erdogan (hamstring - indefinite).