Wellington Phoenix host Melbourne Victory in the first A-League match on Saturday but it is not the first meeting between these two sides this season. When Phoenix made the trip to Melbourne just a month ago Victory eased to a 3-0 win. Given the form of Kevin Muscat’s men it would take a very good performance by Phoenix to reverse that result.
Victory’s win over Phoenix was the first in a run of five straight wins in all competitions which has not only taken them to the top of the A-League but also brought a morale boosting win in the FFA Cup. Muscat has passionately defended the A-League in the face of much criticism about the treatment of fans and the quality of the football but with a playing career in which he was a no nonsense defender, Muscat is all about getting the win. His three star forward players, Besart Berisha, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Kiwi Kosta Barbarouses have been getting rave reviews but without a mean defence and physical approach they would not have had such an impressive season so far.
Phoenix’s chances of winning the match will not have been boosted by the fact that they are not actually playing this ‘home’ game in Wellington. The club are in the process of reapplying for a 10-year extension to play in the A-League and this game is being played in Auckland to try and make a show of the club’s level of support. However, ticket sales have been poor and they will be lucky to have a crowd of much over 10,000 fans at QBE Stadium. That could make for a strange atmosphere which should play into the hands of Melbourne Victory who are happy in the role of party poopers.
The bookies’ all have the Victory as the favourites for the match but the odds suggest that a home win is not quite out of the question. The biggest odds you will find on Melbourne is the 2.05 that William Hill are quoting (Wellington can be backed at 3.5 with Boylesports). That looks like a very good price about Victory who should come away with another win to cement their place at the top of the ladder.
Although Victory have enough about them to get the win, it is highly unlikely to be another 3-0 scoreline. Wellington Phoenix may not be in the best form right about now but with the club battling for their very future in the A-League they will give it their best shot. Muscat is a clever manager and he will know what he is likely to face up against Ernie Merrick’s team. Victory will go into the game with defence high on the agenda and given that Phoenix have only a modest goalscoring record betting on under 2.5 goals at a huge 2.38 with BetVictor looks a good bet.
Besart Berisha is on fire for Melbourne Victory this season. He takes the team’s penalties and finishes off many of their moves in the attacking third. He is fit and raring to go for Saturday’s match and can be backed at odds of 5.5 with Sportsbet to score the opening goal of the match.
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