Key Battle: Malik v Ugarkovic

There will be a lot on the line when City host the Jets on Thursday night at AAMI Park, and all signs are pointing to the battle in the midfield playing a big role in the result. We look at the key numbers between Osama Malik and Steven Ugarkovic.

Osama Malik and Steven Ugarkovic play a similar role for their respective teams. With both players surrounded by attacking flare, they stick to their job of playing an anchoring role in defensive midfield.

Malik has showcased his versatility and team first approach this season, mostly playing in the centre of midfield but also filling gaps in defence when called upon. The 185cm tall midfielder stands above most of his opponents in the midfield, but his height shouldn’t take away from his foot skills.

For the rejuvenated Jets, Ugarkovic has played an important role in defensive midfield that has allowed his teammates to flourish. His stability allows the likes of Dimi Petratos, Patito Rodriguez and Andrew Nabbout to express themselves further up the field.

In terms of game time this season, the City midfielder has played 15 games with his Newcastle counterpart starting in all 17 of the Jets fixtures.

Malik’s experience combined with his strong ability to anticipate play has seen him register 31 interception to date – eight more interceptions than his rival.

City’s defensive midfielder has also made 23 clearances, compared with Ugarkovic’s 21.

One of Ugarkovic’s strongest attributes is his ability to carry the ball by foot. The number of successful dribbles that the Jets midfielder has completed this season demonstrates this (Successful dribbles, Malik – 4, Ugarkovic – 15).

In terms of passing ability, the two defensive midfielders are both considerably accurate. Malik is travelling at 78.6% passing accuracy, compared to Ugarkovic’s 82.2%.

Malik’s height and strength combined with his football smarts, has seen the City defensive player win 21 fouls this season including one penalty (Ugarkovic – 13 fouls won).

When it comes to the attacking third, the Newcastle man has the edge over the City midfielder. Ugarkovic has registered one goal, two assists and 13 key passes (Malik – 9 key passes), showcasing his ability to do damage in the attacking third.

In what is set to be a blockbuster six-point clash on Australia Day Eve, there is no doubt that both Malik and Ugarkovic will need to be at their best in order to help their team’s win the all important midfield battle.

City host Newcastle at AAMI Park on Thursday night, kick-off 7:50pm. Click here to get your tickets for the match!