Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
It would be easy to believe this match is a case of Fred against Melbourne Victory such has been the build-up as Melbourne comes up against the man that helped it to the 2006/07 championship for the first time since he left the club.
Date: Friday November 28 Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST) Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM.
Head-to-head 4 A-League meetings: Wellington Phoenix - 0 wins, Melbourne Victory - 2 wins - 2 draws.
Previous meeting Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 4, round 2, 2008
Past five rounds Melbourne Victory: Round 8: Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 9: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 10: Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium. Round 11: Queensland Roar 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 12: Melbourne Victory 2, Central Coast 1, Telstra Dome
Wellington: Round 8: Central Coast 0, Wellington 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 9: Wellington 0, Queensland 1, Westpac Stadium Round 10: Perth 2, Wellington 0, Members' Equity Stadium Round 11: Sydney 1, Wellington 2, Sydney Football Stadium Round 12: Wellington 2, Newcastle 0, Westpac Stadium
It would be easy to believe this match is a case of Fred against Melbourne Victory such has been the build-up as Melbourne comes up against the man that helped it to the 2006/07 championship for the first time since he left the club following the memorable 6-0 grand final demolition of Adelaide that season.
The 29-year-old Brazilian, who left Melbourne to join American club DC United, is on a six match guest stint with the Phoenix and last week inspired the New Zealand club to a 2-0 home win against Newcastle.
That win lifted the much-improved Wellington side some four points clear of the bottom two sides in sixth spot and within just three points of third place as the club looks to make the finals for the first time.
And in striker Shane Smeltz, the Phoenix has one of the most dangerous front men in the competition.
But taking on an in-form Victory is a vast step up in class for the Phoenix, who have never beaten Melbourne in four previous attempts.
The Victory is three points clear on top of the ladder and showed great character last week to come from a goal down to beat previously second-placed Central Coast and virtually has a full squad to choose from.
The return of Jose Luiz Lopez from international duty will further boost the midfield and help protect the defence, which will have its hands full quelling the dual threat of Fred and Smeltz.
But Melbourne has far more attacking options and even if Wellington does breach the Victory defence, there appears to be goals galore in a Victory line-up featuring Archie Thompson, Ney Fabiano, Carlos Hernandez and Danny Allsopp.
So while this looms as a tricky away fixture against a team on the rise, expect Melbourne to prevail in what is likely to be a similar scoreline to the 4-2 win the Victory registered in New Zealand earlier this year.
Melbourne Victory Squad. 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Michael THWAITE, 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, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD
In. Jose Luis LOPEZ (return from international duty) Out. Leigh BROXHAM (omitted) Unavailable. Evan BERGER (hamstring - 1 week), Nathan ELASI (groin - 1 week)
Wellington Squad: 1.Mark PASTON (gk), 2.Jeremy CHRISTIE, 3.Tony LOCHHEAD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 6.Tim BROWN, 7.Leo BERTOS, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Michael FERRANTE, 11.DANIEL, 13.Troy HEARFIELD, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 25.Manny MUSCAT, 27.FRED
In. Jeremy CHRISTIE (promoted) Out. Karl DODD (suspended - 1 week) Unavailable. Vince LIA (knee - season)
Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.