Preview: Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC

8:00pm AEST, Saturday August 7 at the Sydney Football Stadium

Date: Saturday August 7 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST Venue: Sydney Football Stadium

Head-to-head Played 18: Wins: Melbourne Victory 6, Sydney FC 4, Draws 8

Previous Meeting Melbourne Victory 1, Sydney FC 1, March 2010, Grand Final (Sydney won 4-2 on penalties)

Why we don-t like 'em Last year's Grand Final defeat might have a bit to do with it, not to mention the fact they tipped out Melbourne for the premiership as well with a win in Sydney in the final round. While there is plenty of respect between the league's two biggest clubs, there is plenty of passion as well. The nature of the defeat in the Grand Final only enhances that rivalry, given Melbourne lost on penalties.

Pre-season form: Sydney FC: July 31: Sydney FC 1, Blackburn 2, Sydney Football Stadium July 28: Sydney FC 0, Rangers 0, Sydney Football Stadium July 25: Sydney FC 3, AEK Athens 5, Sydney Football Stadium July 17: Sydney FC 2, Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney Showground July 10: Sydney FC 0 Everton 1 - ANZ Stadium June 30: Marconi Stallions 1 Sydney FC 3, Marconi Stadium June 22: Macarthur Rams 0, Sydney FC 1, Campbelltown Stadium June 15: Manly United 1 Sydney FC 2, Cromer Park

Melbourne Victory: July 25: Central Coast Mariners 0, Melbourne Victory 0, Aurora Stadium, Launceston July 20: Melbourne Victory 2, Dandenong Thunder 1, Olympic Park July 16: Melbourne Victory 0, Boca Juniors 1, Etihad Stadium July 6: Melbourne Victory 2, Bentleigh Greens 1, Olympic Park

Decisions for Ernie With Archie Thompson and Matthew Kemp out for some time yet and Robbie Krusse struggling with a hamstring injury, coach Ernie Merrick has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from. His biggest decision will be who to fit where. He has indicated Mate Dugandzic will get a go up front, while Carlos Hernandez is set to start despite a restricted pre-season. Michael Petkovic will play his first game for the club in goals, while the remainder of the side is not expected to contain too many surprises.

Behind Enemy Lines Sydney have had an injury free pre-season and go into this match with no-one unavailable. Simon Colosimo, John Aloisi, Steve Corica, Karol Kisel and Clint Bolton have all left the club after the Grand Final win, with the new faces for this match likely to be new marquee signing Nick Carle as well as long-term A-Leaguers Liam Reddy and Scott Jamieson. Kofi Danning returns from a long-term injury.

Our Hero Carlos Hernandez - With no Archie Thompson and no Robbie Kruse, Victory will rely heavily on the Costa Rican to not only create chances but score some as well in this match. He has lost 3kgs over the past month and is apparently fit as he has ever been at this stage of a season.

The Danger man Nick Carle - he may be new to the club, but there is no doubt that Nick Carle will be a key player for the Sky Blues this year. A playmaker who can score from just about anywhere, Carle will need to be kept quiet if Melbourne is to get the three points they need in this match.

Why we will win Recent history tells us that there a few harder assignments in the A-League then going to Sydney and getting the points. Melbourne has only won twice in eight trips to the Harbour City with the most recent being in 2007.

However, there is no shortage of motivation for Melbourne to put last year's Grand Final defeat behind them and start building on the new season. While there has not been a bevy of big signings ion the off-season, the stability at the club should mean that Victory hit the ground running.

The return of Billy Celeski is a massive one, while you would expect both Robbie Kruse and Mate Dugandzic to make the most of their chance in Thompson's absence. Sydney have lost their best defender in the off-season in Simon Colosimo and perhaps that can give Melbourne an opening.

Melbourne's defence is rock solid and there will be plenty of confidence that Muscat, Vargas and Leijer can cut Bridge and Brosque out of the game. Some might expect Melbourne to settle for the draw, but as Merrick often says, that's just not in the Melbourne mentality.


Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Diogo FERREIRA, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER *three to be omitted*

Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee), Matthew KEMP (knee)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL 3. Stephan KELLER, 5. Hayden FOXE, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 10. Nick CARLE, 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN (c), 16. Terry ANTONIS, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT *five to be omitted*

Unavailable: Nil