A-League preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory

Another blockbuster at Allianz as the Sky Blues meet their most bitter southern rivals in this top of the table clash. If history is any gauge, this'll be a ripper.

MATCH DETAILS
Saturday, 15 November 2014
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off:  7.30pm (Local) (7.30pm AEDST)
Referee: Peter Green

Sydney FC  1.Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 2.Sebastian RYALL, 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Hagi GLIGOR, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 18.Peter TRIANTIS, 19.Nick CARLE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 22.Ali ABBAS, 25.George TIMOTHEOU. ***one to be omitted***

Ins  12.Hagi GLIGOR (promoted), 14.Alex BROSQUE (c) (return from injury), 18.Peter TRIANTIS (promoted), 25.George TIMOTHEOU (promoted)
Outs  21.Mark JANKO (International Duty), 7.Corey GAMEIRO (International Duty), 17.Terry ANTONIS (International Duty)
Unavailable  5.Matthew JURMAN (knee).

Melbourne Victory:  1.Nathan COE (GK), 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 13.Andrew NABBOUT, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23. Adrian LEIJER, 26. Jordan BROWN, 31. Kieran DOVER, 32. Milos RIDESIC **one to be omitted**

Ins: 13. Andrew NABBOUT (promoted), 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE (returns from injury), 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 26. Jordan BROWN, 31. Kieran DOVER, 32. Milos RIDESIC (all promoted)
Outs: 5. Mark MILLIGAN (international duty), 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES (international duty), 11. Connor PAIN (international duty), 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (international duty), 24. Scott GALLOWAY (international duty)
Unavailable: 2.Jason GERIA (international duty)

Broadcast coverage
TV - Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 (FOX SPORTS 4HD & 4)  from 7.00pm (AEDT), Live Coverage on SBS HD & SBS One from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio - 774 ABC Melbourne, Local Radio VIC, 936 ABC Hobart and ABC Northern Tasmania,
ABC Grandstand Digital, ABC Grandstand Online / ABC Radio Mobile phone app  Second half coverage on 702 ABC Sydney & ABC Local Radio NSW.
BLUFFER’S GUIDE
The Hyundai A-League’s original big rivalry is set for its 32nd edition on Saturday night. 

Both are unbeaten and are performing ominously. While Melbourne Victory enjoys a better record in the head-to-head clashes between the two clubs, they’ve only managed one win from their last 10 clashes in Sydney.

The Sky Blues are shooting for their fourth straight clean sheet this weekend, something they haven’t managed since January 2010.

Sydney FC lost their battle to have midfielder Terry Antonis available, with the FFA confirming on Thursday the young playmaker would miss out due to the injury which ruled him out of Socceroos duty.

Marquee man Marc Janko (Austria) and Corey Gameiro (Olyroos) are also away with their respective national sides. 

Skipper Alex Brosque (ankle), who failed to complete training on Thursday, has been named as well as Hagi Gligor, Peter Triantis and George Timotheou.

Victory’s squad has been decimated by international duty with skipper Mark Milligan, Kosta Barbarouses, Connor Pain, Daniel Georgievski, Scott Galloway and Jason Geria all unavailable. 

Defender Matthieu Del Pierre has trained strongly this week and has been named in the squad, along with Andrew Nabbout, Jesse Makarounas, Jordan Brown, Kieran Dover and Milos Ridesic.

OPTA DATA STATS
Berisha is the current top scorer in the Hyundai A-League this season; netting five goals from just six shots on target.

Guilherme Finkler has a league-high three assists in the Hyundai A-League this season.

Melbourne Victory have averaged 16.4 fouls per game; the highest ratio in the Hyundai A-League this season.

ROUTE TO GOAL
With Gameiro and Janko both absent, Sydney may need to tinker with their approach. It means Sydney may need to take a more structured approach to how they attack Victory, using the quality of their midfield and over-lapping runs from full-backs Seb Ryall and Ali Abbas.

One area they could find joy is from set pieces, with the last four goals Victory have conceded coming from dead-ball situations.

Victory striker Besart Berisha loves playing against Sydney, scoring in four of his last five appearances against the Sky Blues.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Shane Smeltz. With Janko unavailable for the home side, Smeltz will make his first start for the club in the Hyundai A-League.

The Kiwi international is a pretty handy replacement, scoring 77 Hyundai A-League goals during his time with Wellington Phoenix, Gold Coast United and Perth Glory.

His battle with experienced Victory defender Adrian Leijer will be a brutal and could go a long way to deciding which side comes out on top.

FORM LINES
The two sides have identical records (three wins, two draws) from the first five matches and managed to grind out draws in difficult road trips last weekend.

The Sky Blues came away from Adelaide with a credible 0-0 stalemate with the Reds, while Victory came from two-goals down to draw 2-2 with Newcastle Jets.

DID YOU KNOW?
Victory have a shot conversion rate of 31% in the Hyundai A-League this season, by far the best of any side in the competition.

PREDICTION
Sydney FC 2-1 Melbourne Victory
Sydney’s defensive strength has been the key to their strong form over the past few weeks but that will get a serious test against Victory’s style, all pace, movement and slick passing. The Sky Blues won’t have forgotten the pain of being eliminated from the finals by Victory last season and would love a bit of revenge in this one.