As the clock ticks down towards the highly anticipated first Melbourne Derby of the season, we take an in depth look at our opponents and fierce cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory.
Victory’s formidable attack draws blank.
Despite coasting to the A-League premiership with a league high 56 goals last season, Melbourne Victory were uncharacteristically poor in front of goal in their 0-0 stalemate against Adelaide United last week.
Key talisman Besart Berisha failed to display his usual ruthlessness, spurning two golden chances in an underwhelming contest which only yielded four shots on target for the entire game.
But while he wasn’t firing on all cylinders in the season opener, Berisha always saves his best for the Melbourne Derby, with the fiery Albanian netting five of Victory's 11 goals scored against City last season.
With the dangerous Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Gui Finkler also to contend with, City’s defence will have to be at their best to keep a clean sheet on Saturday night.
Broxham suspension gives Muscat defensive worries.
With makeshift central defender Leigh Broxham suspended and Nick Ansell on the long-term injury list, Kevin Muscat’s defensive options are worryingly stretched heading into one of the biggest fixtures of the season.
Youngster Thomas Deng may have another opportunity to slot into the back four– as he did off the bench in the final minutes against Adelaide United – while returning Olyroos Gianluca Gallifuoco, Scott Galloway and Jason Geria are viable alternatives to partner the experienced Mathieu Delpierre in the heart of defence.
Valeri and Bozanic to anchor midfield.
After missing Round 1 with a knee complaint, Victory skipper Carl Valeri has declared himself fit to wear the captain’s armband for the first time in the Melbourne Derby.
With Valeri shouldering the defensive responsibilities, new marquee signing Oliver Bozanic provides Victory with a different threat to predecessor Mark Milligan – who departed for the UAE in the off-season.
The Socceroos midfielder was impressive against Adelaide United, often roaming forward in a box-to-box midfield role and linking up with key playmaker Gui Finkler in the final third.
With City also possessing an imposing midfield trio of Aaron Mooy, Robi Koren and Erik Paartalu, the battle in the middle of the park looms as the key to securing a crucial three points.
Milestone for Vukovic.
A constant presence between the posts in the Hyundai A-League, new Victory shot-stopper Danny Vukovic will become the competition’s games record holder when he steps out for his first Melbourne Derby.
The 30-year-old has played 228 games for Central Coast, Wellington, Perth and now Victory, currently sitting equal on the all-time games list with former Mariners team-mate John Hutchinson.
After featuring in numerous F3 derbies during his time at the Mariners, Saturday night is sure to be a completely different – and certainly more hostile encounter.
Last Time They Met
Melbourne Victory 3-0 Melbourne City FC, Etihad Stadium – Hyundai A-League Semi-Final.
After an exhilarating 2-0 win in the Elimination Final against Wellington Phoenix, John van't Schip's men fell 3-0 to the hands of a rampant Victory outfit.
Goals to Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Archie Thompson sealed a comprehensive win against an injury ravaged City line-up, who saw Aaron Mooy, David Williams and Harry Novillo all limp off during the match.