The A-League action returns this week, as Melbourne take on Western Sydney on Friday evening. The Victory recorded a fouth placed finish last season, but they’ve still without a final appearance since 2010, which was their second successive final appearance.
The Victory will be aspiring to reach the level of the Wanderers, who themselves will want to go one better. They’ve reached back to back finals, but they’ve yet to lift the A-League trophy. They came within four minutes last season, before a Besart Berisha goal took the game to extra time.
The Roar eventually went on to win in extra time thanks to a Henrique Silva strike, but one of the big storys going in to this game is that Besart Berisha, a scorer on that day, will be lining up for the Victory for the first time.
Berisha has a good record against the Wanderers recently, scoring in three of his last four appearances against them. More important, the Victory have a resonable home record against them, winning one and drawing the other last season.
They’ll hope to carry over the form that saw them lose just three of their 14 home games last season, which is a far more impressive record than their visitors had on the road. The Wanderers were formidable at home, but points on the road were harder to come by.
Interestingly, the Victory haven’t won on opening day since 2006, whilst the Wanderers haven’t won an opening day fixture since joining A-League two seasons ago. A low scoring draw has been the most common outcome for both sides, and that may continue.
The A-league action continues on Saturday evening, as Syndey take on Melbourne City. In the post Del Piero era, all eyes are currently on the new big arrival in A-League – David Villa. At the age of 32, David Villa is much closer to his prime than the Italian was, and it should show from the first whistle on Saturday.
Villa’s loan stay in Melbourne will last (I imagine) until around February, when he’ll scoot off to the United States to play alongside Frank Lampard and co in New York City. The Spanish International will hope to weight in with double figures during his time in Melbourne, and he could start this Saturday.
Sydney have won two and drawn one of the last three meetings on this ground, but they’ve all been tight affairs. With the experience and firepower in the ranks at Melbourne this year, I see no reason why they can’t be more competitive on the road.
City have won just one of their last 26 games on the road, but the experience of Villa, Duff and Koren provide enough experience to straighten that record out. The risk with our bet is that David Villa is not actually guaranteed to play this weekend! If he does play…
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