Five things we learned: Phoenix v City

Football's back and we're loving it! See the five things we learned from our Round 1 win against Wellington.

Squad goals

Our squad boast one of the strongest lists in the league and on Saturday night, it really showed. When you think about our squad depth, you think about our forward line with the ability to boast the names like Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli, Nicolas Colazo, Fernando Brandan and Bruce Kamau in the same eleven but it’s always the most unlikeliest places where it is really tested.

Enter Dean Bouzanis and his 28 minute cameo that included thwarting seven scoring chances and one important stop to keep City’s lead in the contest. His ability to step up in a heated moment in the match was an incredibly hard feat and the ‘keeper did it in style, helping guide his side to the three points.

It’s cliché to say it’s going to take the whole list to win silverware this season but with players like Bouzanis stepping up to take their opportunity, it may be an important moment in the context of our season.

A start against history

Three points in the opening round of the season is not normally a common occurrence for our Club. Before Saturday, our starts to the season included three draws and two losses with our only win coming in the first Melbourne Derby of the 2012/13 season.

It was also our second clean sheet in opening round history with our first coming in the scoreless draw against Victory in the 2013/14 season.

A positive start to the season may just be tonic we need to get something out of this season. Historically, our second halves to the season see us make up lost ground and storm home with a wet sail but with a better start, we could be in for yet another strong year.

Gritty when it mattered

Grit is not the first word that comes to mind when referring to beautiful football but on Saturday, it was almost the most important part. A dominant first half of football saw us find the back of the net once and could have easily had two more as we caught a glimpse of some of the attacking football we saw last season and expect to see for the rest of the year.

What pleased John van’t Schip the most however was the way his side held out for the result with a man down away from home and a gale force win against them in the second half.

The restructure after the send-off saw Manny Muscat make his City debut against his old side and the experienced defender added the levelled head to our backline. Saturday showed us a side of the squad we haven’t seen before but something we can definitely get used to when called upon.

Brattan masterclass

Eight of the fourteen players that hit the field made their A-League debut for the Club on Saturday but the man who looked most at home was Luke Brattan.

The midfielder had 93 touches and 51 passes, more than double than any of his teammates, and pulled the strings in a performance that saw him make the A-League’s team of the week.

A solid pre-season and first team football has looked to have sparked Brattan into life this season and could be the man to be the heir apparent to the Aaron Mooy throne.

Derby test ahead

It’s the Melbourne Derby up next for City and a win in Round 1 could be the perfect formula coming into the 20th edition of the contest.

The match will see the return of Tim Cahill, creating another positive selection headache for John van’t Schip, and the inclusion of Dean Bouzanis, who will be a certain starter after the automatic one-match suspension to Thomas Sorensen.

Although it’s only Round 2, the importance of this match will be massive for both sides. An opening round draw for Kevin Muscat’s men will see them hungry for their first three point haul while two wins to start to the season would be the perfect way to enter the year, with our first home match against Perth the week after.

Either way, we’re excited and can’t wait to see what the Derby will bring!