Melbourne City FC will face a stern test of its finals credentials when John van’t Schip’s side take on cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park. We provide a rundown of the latest team news, quotes and key statistics ahead of Saturday’s massive Melbourne Derby.
With both sides locked on points as the A-League enters the final 10 rounds, the stakes for edition 19 of the Melbourne Derby could not be higher.
City and Victory sit third and fourth on the league table respectively, six points adrift of competition pace-setters Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers, but locked on 28 points apiece, with only City’s superior scoring record the key separator.
It is the first time both sides have been entrenched in the top four heading into the third encounter of the season, adding further spice in what is shaping up to be the most significant Melbourne Derby in A-League history.
Head to Head
Each of the last seven Melbourne Derbies have been won by the ‘home’ team, with City emerging triumphant in the last three contests at AAMI Park – including a memorable 2-1 win in the previous encounter in December.
However, both sides head into Saturday’s clash with an even head-to-head record for the season, with a last minute Besart Berisha goal handing Victory a 3-2 win in the first Derby of the season at Etihad Stadium.
City have never managed to win two derbies in a single season but with a win crucial to both sides league ambitions, John van’t Schip’s side will be determined to create a slice of history and continue an assault towards the Finals Series.
City midfielder Anthony Caceres is available after completing a one-match suspension, while youngster Ali Eyigun is included in the match day squad for the first time since the Round 13 clash against Sydney FC.
New signing Alex Wilkinson is a chance to make his debut for the Club in the centre of defence after joining from Korean club Jeonbuk Motors earlier this week, but midfield dynamo Jacob Melling is out after his sending off against Newcastle.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat has a near full complement of players at his disposal, with Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Rashid Mahazi, Archie Thompson and Thomas Deng all available for selection.
From the change room
“This is a massive game for us for a lot of reasons. There is obviously the pride on the line because it is a Derby but add to that we are equal on points, so the weight of importance of this game is not lost on the team. – City defender Michael Zullo
“It’s going to be a massive test for us and coming off the Wanderers game, we’ve just got to put our minds straight on to that game. [City] are going to come at us and we’re going to go at them. I think it’s going to be a massive game and the rewards are massive for a win.” – Victory striker Kosta Barbarouses.
Key Battle – Bruno Fornaroli vs Besart Berisha
While both sides are locked in a fierce battle on the Hyundai A-League table, the fight for the Golden Boot between Bruno Fornaroli and Besart Berisha is a mouth-watering subplot for what is certain to be an intriguing Derby contest.
Leading the race with 15 goals in 17 matches this season, Fornaroli has been a revelation for City in the final third, becoming the first player to win two consecutive PFA Player of the Month awards after netting four goals in five matches in January.
Breathing down his neck is Victory marquee Berisha, who netted his 14th goal of the campaign against Western Sydney to move within one goal of the Uruguayan on the Golden Boot standings.
With both players continuing to find the back of the net at will, the duel between two of the competition’s leading marksman may prove to be a decisive factor in the outcome of Saturday’s match.
- City are undefeated in its last five home matches at AAMI Park (W4, D1) and have only lost three of the last 11 Hyundai A-League matches.
- Aaron Mooy currently leads the Hyundai A-League for assists this season with 14, and is the only player to have assisted more than 10 times.
- City are the only team in the competition to have attempted more than 200 shots on goal this season (216).
- John van’t Schip’s side have attempted the most shots on target (103), but they are also the side to have allowed their opponents the most on target as well.
How to Follow the Match
Don’t miss out on what is set to be one of the most hotly contested editions of the Melbourne Derby. Purchase your tickets NOW or head down to our membership marquee located at City Square, where you can sign up for our new Three Match Pack.
You can follow all the match action live on Twitter @melbournecity, or by using the match hashtag: #MelbDerby
Important Supporter Message
Melbourne City FC recognises the importance of fan safety and acceptable fan behaviour at all Hyundai A-League matches.
The Club has a zero tolerance policy for anti-social behaviour and behaviour which incites violence, has the potential to harm and causes safety concerns for stadium security.
The use of flares at Melbourne City FC matches will not be tolerated and we remind supporters that:
- Any individual (or group of individuals) found in possession, ignite or throw flares, set off detonators or other missiles will receive a minimum five-year ban from Football Federation Australia and may face criminal charges
- The ban covers Hyundai A-league, friendly matches, International fixtures, National Youth League and Westfield W-League matches
- The Club receives a maximum fine of $4,900 per flare