Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners kick off round seven of the A-League at AAMI Park on Thursday night. Outside90.com preview tonight’s match.
Victory return to Melbourne after a 4-2 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in the grand final rematch, while a 10-man Central Coast salvaged a late point against Newcastle Jets in the first F3 Derby of the season.
These are two teams on very different ends of the A-League spectrum. The Victory are flying high after securing their third domestic trophy of the calendar year and have commenced their title defence brilliantly.
The Mariners, on the other hand, have been struggling on-field, with only one win for the season, as well as dealing with recent off-field dramas – with Liam Reddy stood down, Eddy Bosnar leaving and the allegations of a ‘mole’ within the camp leaking confidential information.
Key Battle – Matthieu Delpierre vs Roy O’Donovan
The Mariners’ Irish striker has so far proven to be a valuable offseason signing. Central Coast struggled for goals last season and their new striker has already scored three this campaign. He will come up against tall French defender Matthieu Delpierre. The amount of experience and calmness Delpierre has added to the Victory back four since he signed for the club – albeit it in a smaller number of matches than both he and the club would have first presumed – has been crucial to its overall success. Both of these players are tall and physical and should make for an intriguing battle.
The Melbourne side will be delighted to have three of their four Olyroos back in the squad. While Carl Valeri has served his one week suspension following his red card in the FFA Cup final, the captain, as well as Jason Geria, have been ruled out due to injury.
Melbourne Victory Expected XI (4-3-3): Vukovic (GK); Georgievski, Broxham, Delpierre, Murnane; Mahazi, Finkler, Bozanic; Ben Khalfallah, Berisha, Barbarouses.
The Mariners will be without Jake McGing after the young defender was sent off in the match against Newcastle for a nasty tackle. Harry Ascroft should be fit enough to replace him in the centre of defence.
Central Coast Mariners Expected XI (4-2-3-1): Izzo (GK); Roux, Poscoliero, J. Rose, Ascroft; L. Rose Caceres, Montgomery; Fitzgerald, Austin, O’Donovan.
These teams have met 31 times with Victory winning 14 times to the Mariners’ nine. There have been eight draws between the clubs. The Mariners have not beaten the Victory since April 2013 and have not beaten the reigning champions in Melbourne since November 2009.
The last time these sides met, Melbourne secured the premier’s plate in the final round of last season with a comfortable 3-1 win. Daniel Georgievski, Archie Thompson and Besart Berisha were on the scoresheet with Eddy Bosnar scoring for the Central Coast.
It is hard to see this match going any other way than a Victory win. Central Coast have a very young and, with McGing’s absence, threadbare defence coming up against one of the most potent and in-form attacks in the league. Kosta Barbarouses and Besart Berisha are in a rich vein of form and are looking unstoppable. While the Mariners have their positives, and have been playing some good attacking football, as well as showing an incredible amount of heart against the Jets last week, they do not look like they will be able stop the Victory.
Melbourne Victory 3 Central Coast Mariners 1
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