Preview: Melbourne Victory v Gold Coast United
Gold Coast may have had only two years in the competition but that hasn’t prevented a strong rivalry developing between the two teams.
Date: Sunday January 30 Kick-off: 5:00pm Venue: AAMI Park Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 1 from 5:00pm (AEDT)
Live Match Centre: www.melbournevictory.com.au
Played 5: Wins: Melbourne Victory 3. Gold Coast 2
Melbourne Victory 0, Gold Coast United 1, Etihad Stadium
Past five matches:
Melbourne Victory: North Queensland Fury 0, Melbourne Victory 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Melbourne Victory 2, Melbourne Heart 2, Etihad Stadium Sydney FC 1, Melbourne Victory 1, SFS Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 4, AAMI Park Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Westpac Stadium
Gold Coast United: Gold Coast United 5, Newcastle Jets 1, Skilled Park Melbourne Heart 1, Gold Coast United 1, AAMI Park Gold Coast United 4, North Queensland 0, Skilled Park Sydney FC 2, Gold Coast United 0, SFS Gold Coast United 0, Perth Glory 0, Skilled Park
Why we don't like 'em
Gold Coast may have had only two years in the competition but that hasn't prevented a strong rivalry developing between the two teams. Their first two encounters last season produced nine goals, with Melbourne winning both, but the past three encounters have been much more defensive, with only one goal scored on each occasion.
Robbie Kruse scored the winner when the teams met in August at Skilled Park, while Rodrigo Vargas' own-goal gave United all three points when they last met at Etihad Stadium in November.
Decisions For Ernie
After going four games without a win, the 3-0 triumph in Townsville against the Fury has eased the building pressure on coach Ernie and his men. Not only did Victory come away with a valuable three points, but the fashion it came in was also impressive. The strong return of Adrian Leijer alongside Rody Vargas in defence was a welcome boost for Victory and unlike previous weeks, Ernie can retain defensive set-up for two games on the trot.
Kevin Muscat's eight-match ban for his challenge in the Melbourne Derby opens up an opportunity for rising star Petar Franjic to force his way into the squad comes finals time. Mate Dugandzic came off the bench to score a double against Fury and instead of coming on for Carlos Hernandez as he did in Townsville, might find himself playing alongside of him.
Danny Allsopp has scored in his last three appearances and will lead the Victory attack. Leigh Broxham returns from injury and is another who will come into contention for a place in the squad with Billy Celeski (hip) set to miss.
Behind Enemy Lines
The season is starting to come together very nicely for Gold Coast and their coach Miron Bleiberg. Gold Coast are still in the hunt for a top-two finish thanks to a last-start 5-1 demolition of Newcastle Jets. Having hit a bit of a flat spot following the departure of skipper Jason Culina for the Asian Cup, United is now unbeaten in three, scoring 10 goals in that period. Six of the 10 belong to the rejuvenated Bruce Djite, who has thrived in the presence of Golden Boot winner Shane Smeltz since the Kiwi striker's return to the club from an unsuccessful stint in Turkey.
Bleiberg welcomes back former Manchester United defender John Curtis to the squad along with the influential Zenon Caravella, who will return to drive the United midfield. German midfielder Peter Perchtold got through 90 minutes against the Jets and is getting better with more match-time under his belt.
Danny Allsopp -Well Danny has wasted no time getting back among the goals in his second spell at Victory. The opener against North Queensland was the well-travelled striker's third in as many games since returning to Victory following stints in Qatar and the American MLS. The former Notts County, Manchester City and Hull City hitman has provided a physical threat Victory had been lacking without Archie Thompson and has done enough to ensure when both Thompson and Robbie Kruse return that there will be a spot in the starting line-up for him. Against the uncompromising United defenders Michael Thwaite, Dino Djulbic and Bas van den Brink, Allsopp's presence is pivotal for Victory.
Bruce Djite -Sure Smeltz is in the United line-up, but it's Djite who has banged in the goals since the Kiwi striker's return from Turkey. Maybe it is the fact that both spent their time in that country with Genclerbirligi (albeit at different periods), but more like Smeltz is getting more attention from defenders meaning more space for Djite. There certainly is a great rapport between the pair as evidenced by the 23-year-old's turnaround in form since Smeltz's arrival. Djite, who had gone something like 14 games without a goal has scored six in his last three matches, headlined by a hat-trick in the 5-1 demolition of the Jets. A physically powerful striker who boasts good pace.
Why We Will Win
The reality is because we have to. The win against North Queensland was not only timely, but keeps us at the head of the pack of the four teams chasing the two available spots in the A-League finals race.
We boast 37 points from 27 matches to sit in fifth place, four clear of Melbourne Heart who have played the same amount of games. The other teams in the hunt are Wellington Phoenix (32 points in 26 matches) and Newcastle Jets (31 points in 25 games).
Both times we-ve played this season proved gritty one-goal games with Gold Coast successful in the most recent encounter at Etihad Stadium after Robbie Kruse got the winner at Skilled Park early in the campaign.
Considering how much Victory and United want three points, expect this to be an attacking contest filled with goals, something that will suit the home side who enjoys playing with freedom.
Costa Rican sensation Carlos Hernandez should be fresh after earning an early mark (62 minutes) against Fury, while Allsopp-s goals are earning attention across the A-League.
And if Victory need any added motivation, the clash will see defender Rodrigo Vargas pass Kevin Muscat-s record for most club appearances with his 123rd game. For the record it is the 250th national game for Vargas, who played 127 games for the Melbourne Knights in the old National Soccer League.
Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 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 FERREIRA, 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 (c).
*4 to be omitted *
In: Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted). Petar FRANJIC (promoted). Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury).
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring), Surat SUKHA (calf) Robbie KRUSE (Asian Cup), Kevin MUSCAT (suspension).
Gold Coast United: 1.Glen MOSS [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16.Kristian REES, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Adama TRAORE, 24.John CURTIS, 25.Chris BROADFOOT, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD, 29.Zac ANDERSON, 30,Jerrad TYSON [gk], 33.Peter PERCHTOLD.
*five to be omitted*
In: 7.Zenon CARAVELLA (promoted), 19.Andrew BARISIC (promoted), 24.John CURTIS (promoted), 25.Chris BROADFOOT (promoted), 26.Ben HALLORAN (promoted).
Unavailable: 10.Jason CULINA (knee injury - 4 weeks), 5.ROBSON (hamstring injury - 7 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite), Matt OSMAN (knee injury - indefinite).