It’s been a long time between drinks, 132 days in fact, but Melbourne City will finally be back out on the pitch on Saturday evening.
There aren’t many tougher assignments in the A-League than Sydney FC, but that is what City will be faced with in its return to action.
Sydney has already played once since the resumption of the season, going down 2-1 against Newcastle last Tuesday thanks to a 90th minute winner from Kosta Petratos.
This Saturday’s match will be City’s first of three before finals, with fixtures against Adelaide and Western United still to come.
City coach Erick Mombaerts will be hoping for a bit consistency from his team than what it had been showing pre-COVID. In the last ten games before the season was suspended, City returned five wins, three losses and two draws.
City are now currently in a fight for second spot, with Wellington now holding that position while Brisbane and Perth are also still in with a chance but do currently sit behind City.
With no official practice games having been played in the lead-up to this fixture, it’s hard to know what to expect on Saturday.
Mombaerts will be hoping Jamie Maclaren can get back to his early season golden boot form and his younger players are ready to step up.
The break could also help City solve some of its issues at the back, with a leaky defence having allowed more goals than any other team that sits in the top five.
Last time they met
These teams have met once this season, back in Round 12 and it was the home team Sydney coming away with all three points. Connor Metcalfe opened the scoring early with a header from a set piece but despite finding themselves a man down just a few minutes later, it took Sydney less than 10 minutes to equalise, levelling scores on the half hour mark.
Both sides had chances in the second half but Kosta Barbarouses was the only player able to find the back of the net, curling home a late winner.
Where to watch
We've got you covered with a comprehensive guide on where to catch all the action in our return to football on Saturday, click here to find everything you need to know!
Don't miss our exclusive pre-match show City LIVE, from 4:30pm on our official Facebook page, YouTube channel and here on our website.
With a few squad changes over the break, City’s team will look a little different when it returns to the field. Dean Bouzanis, Denis Genreau and Markel Susaeta have all departed the club while Rostyn Griffiths remains in quarantine after joining the hub later than the rest of the squad.
Youngsters such as Lachie Wales, Stefan Colakovski and Ramy Najjarine could all mount a case to take Susaeta’s spot on the wing, while Richard Windbichler could make a long-awaited return from injury in defence.
Full Team News
1.Tom GLOVER (gk), 2.Scott GALLOWAY, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Harrison DELBRIDGE, 6.Josh BRILLANTE, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Florin BERENGUER 11.Craig NOONE, 13.Nathaniel ATKINSON, 19.Lachlan WALES, 20.Adrian LUNA, 21.Ramy NAJJARINE, 22.Curtis GOOD, 30.Moudi NAJJAR, 34.Connor METCALFE, 35.Raphael BORGES RODRIGUEZ, 39.Idrus ABDULAHI, 40.Richard WINDBICHLER, 46.Joe GAUCI (gk), 49.Stefan COLAKOVSKI
**2-4 to be omitted**
Unavailable: 7.Rostyn GRIFFITHS (quarantine – 5 days), 23.Dean BOUZANIS (gk) (released)
What was said
Melbourne City FC attacker Jamie Maclaren
"We’ve put in the work from last July to now, it’ll be a shame for any club to drop their bundle now but for ourselves it’s about continuing from where we left off because we were in some decent form heading into this break and this club hasn’t finished second in their history – so for us it’s really important to keep winning games."
After this match, City will have two fixtures remaining before finals begin, with all matches to be played in Sydney. The first of these two will be a clash against Adelaide United on Tuesday 11 August, and the second will be against Western United, just over a week later on Wednesday 19th August.