A-League preview: Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

It's a huge clash at AAMI Park to open A-League Round 8 when two of the three remaining unbeaten teams - fierce rivals Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United - vie to catch Perth Glory at the top of the table.

MATCH DETAILS

Friday, 28 November 2014

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7.40pm (Local) (7.40pm AEDST)

Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones

Squads

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Mark MILLIGAN (c), 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Scott GALLOWAY

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Jason GERIA (returns from injury), 4.Nick ANSELL (returns from injury)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE (foot – tbc)

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (c) (gk), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 7.Pablo SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 21.Tarek ELRICH,  22.Fabio FERREIRA, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 30.John HALL (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 11.Bruce DJITE (returns from injury), 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA (returns from injury)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 20.Paul IZZO (gk) (calf – 3-4 weeks), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)

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, Local Radio VIC, 891 ABC Adelaide, Local Radio South Australia, Grandstand Digital, Grandstand Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app 

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

There are sub-plots aplenty ahead of this weekend's opener at AAMI Park - it's the latest installment of a long-running grudge match between Victory and United and also the official game to mark the home team's 10-year anniversary.

But as far as football and the neutrals are concerned, what it all really comes down to is an eagerly anticipated showdown between the teams who have produced arguably the best attacking football so far in Season 2014-15.

Kevin Muscat's home side and the visitors, coached by Spaniard Josep Gombau, are yet to lose after seven games apiece, with the Reds second on the table, two points behind leaders Perth Glory, and the Big V one point and one place back in third.

If one of them can bag all three points on Friday they will not only earn the bragging rights but lay down another marker as genuine title challengers in what is shaping as a fascinating four-way tussle for the A-League crown.

OPTA DATA STATS

- Adelaide have lost 12 of their last 16 away matches against Melbourne Victory (W1 D3).

- The last six games between the sides have produced 23 goals in total; an average of 3.8.

- Melbourne Victory have never gone eight matches unbeaten in a single season.

- In the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns Melbourne Victory were undefeated in their first seven games but went on to lose their eighth fixture both times. Both of those defeats came at the hands of Adelaide United.

ROUTE TO GOAL

There is an embarrassment of attacking riches available to both these coaches. Victory will opt for Kosta Barbarouses on the right, Archie Thompson or Fahid Ben Khalfallah down the left and Guilherme Finkler in the hole behind expert marksman Besart Berisha. 

Expect fullbacks Scott Galloway and Daniel Georgievski to get forward whenever possible.

Adelaide had to make do without centre-forward Bruce Djite and playmaker Marcelo Carrusca away to Central Coast last week, but still emerged 2-0 winners thanks to Pablo Sanchez's first goals for the club. Djite, who had been out since Round 5, and Carrusca have been passed fit and the latter could come straight back into the first XI, while Fabio Ferreira, Sergio Cirio, Awer Mabil and Craig Goodwin are all realistic options for the Reds.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

On the shortlist of candidates to take over at Yokohama F Marinos, Gombau this week insisted he will not be leaving Coopers Stadium mid-season, but did not categorically rule out a departure at the end of the campaign.

Adelaide are a victim of their own success under the Catalan, who has the team playing controlled, technical football. How long can the South Australian club keep hold of their in-demand tactician? 

FORM LINES

Victory's only loss in all competitions this season came in the form of a 4-2 extra-time defeat away to the Glory in the FFA Cup quarter-finals. Since then they've won two and draw two in four A-League games.Adelaide haven't tasted defeat since a 5-1 friendly loss to Malaga in July, winning nine and drawing two of 11 games in the league and cup.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Reds' haul of 17 points is their highest ever from the first seven matches of a A-League season.

PREDICTION

Victory 2-2 Adelaide

This one is too close to call so we're sitting on the fence, albeit hopefully an entertaining fence, with a high-scoring draw possibly in store at AAMI Park. Both teams know where the goal is and although Adelaide have the joint best defensive record in the league (four goals conceded), if anyone is capable of breaching their classy backline, it's the heavy hitting Victory forwards, chief among them Berisha. 

Whatever happens, a memorable contest awaits.