A-League preview: Melbourne City v Adelaide United

It's John van 't Schip's finals hopefuls Melbourne City FC at home to genuine title challengers Adelaide United to kick-off Round 19 in the A-League with a bang.

Friday, 27 February 2015

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEDT)

SQUADS 

Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 10.Robert KOREN, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 27.Kew JALIENS, 29.Safuwan BAHARUDIN ***one to be omitted*** Ins: 7.Iain RAMSAY (promoted), 13.Jonatan GERMANO (promoted) Outs: 25.Jacob MELLING (knee – 3-4 weeks)  Unavailable: 3.Robbie WIELAERT (ankle 5-6 weeks), 11.Damien DUFF (ankle/calf – indefinite), 14.James BROWN (knee – 1-2 weeks), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (ankle – 9-10 weeks), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC (knee – 1-2 weeks)

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 12.Marck OCHIENG, 14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Ben WARLAND, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPLOUS ***two to be omitted*** Ins: 12.Marck OCHIENG (promoted), 15.Ben WARLAND (promoted), 24.Bruce KAMAU (promoted), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPLOUS (promoted) Outs: 5.Osama MALIK (ankle – 2 weeks), 8.ISAÍAS (suspended – 1 week) Unavailable: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (knee – 1 week), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)

HASHTAG #MCYvADL

BROADCAST COVERAGE

TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), Live Coverage on SBS HD & SBS One from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio VIC, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.

Referee: Alan Milliner

Assistant Referee 1: Brad Hobson

Assistant Referee 2: Ashley Beecham

Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

There's a juicy reward on offer for Adelaide United this weekend. Playing first on Friday night, the Reds can go top ahead of Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, at least until Saturday, if they beat City at AAMI Park.

Last time out Josep Gombau's men left it late to get past the Western Sydney Wanderers, sealing a 2-1 win in injury time.

There's still eight rounds of the regular season to go after this weekend, but with the race for the Premier's Plate and a top-two finish tighter than ever, none of the contenders can afford to drop points.

Standing in Adelaide's way are the inconsistent City, who have drawn both of their last two matches 0-0. Van 't Schip has lost veteran forward Damien Duff for the rest of the season, while several other players - Robbie Wielaert, Mate Dugandzic, Ben Garrucio, James Brown and Jacon Melling - are all out, leaving the coach short of bodies to choose from as they seek to keep pace with the top six. 

The Reds have injury worries of their own. Newcastle Jets-bound centre-back Nigel Boogaard is still out this weekend, compounded by the news an ankle injury is likely to sideline the versatile Osama Malik for up to four weeks.

OPTA DATA

- Melbourne City have won just one of their previous 10 A-League games against Adelaide

- Adelaide have been victorious in four of their six visits to Melbourne City

- City have gone three A-League games without scoring. They last went four without a goal in November 2013 as Melbourne Heart.

- Marcelo Carrusca has scored in three of his last four appearances against Melbourne City.

ROUTE TO GOAL

When City thrashed the Newcastle Jets 5-2 in December, with Robert Koren bagging a hat-trick, some optimistic supporters might have hoped a free-scoring second half of the season was set to follow.

Instead Van 't Schip has watched his players claim just one goal in their last five matches and none in the past three. The arrival of striker Josh Kennedy as domestic marquee hasn't yielded a return yet and with Dugandzic and Duff out and Iain Ramsay badly out of form, there are limited options to supply the veteran Socceroo.

Adelaide by contrast are the league's second highest scorers after Victory, with an array of attacking talent to choose from. Bruce Djite and Sergio Cirio were the men on target in the win over the Wanderers, while Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil have also netted in recent weeks.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Utility player Osama Malik, equally at home in defence and midfield, has been under the microscope for two reasons this week. Adelaide fans face a nervous wait to see if the 24-year-old will join Michael Marrone, Isaias, Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio in signing a new contract.

Regardless of where his future lies, Malik won't be out on the field until late March at the earliest after he sustained an ankle injury against the Wanderers.

FORM LINES

Melbourne City FC: DDLWL

Successive 0-0 draws at home to Perth Glory and away to Wellington Phoenix were preceded by a 3-0 derby loss to Melbourne Victory. Prior to that City beat Western Sydney 2-1 at home and lost 2-0 away to Central Coast.

Adelaide United: WDLWW

The Reds saw off the Wanderers in a 2-1 home win last time out. Before that they were held to a 1-1 draw by Perth Glory at the same venue, lost 2-1 away to the Mariners, smashed the Newcastle Jets 7-1 at home and triumphed 2-1 at Perth Glory.

DID YOU KNOW?

- Melbourne City have had more different goal-scorers than any team this season (12)

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 1-3 Adelaide United

City's goal drought can't go on for ever so perhaps with Malik and Boogaard missing the Reds will be a little more vulnerable than usual at the back this week. That being said, Adelaide have too much to play for and too much talent to come unstuck in Melbourne this weekend. We're going for a relatively comfortable away win, which will put the onus squarely on Glory and Victory to respond.