Liberty A-League preview: City v Victory

Match details

City v Melbourne Victory
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Sunday, December 12, 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
Watch live and free on Channel 10 Bold


Melbourne Victory is eyeing back-to-back wins to begin the Liberty A-League season when it faces rival City in a blockbuster Derby clash on Sunday.

Victory is back at AAMI Park after beginning its title defence with a 5-1 win over Adelaide United.

A brace from Lia Privitelli and goals from Kayla Morrison, Claudia Bunge and Catherine Zimmerman saw Victory make a flying start to the season.

An injury to Morrison soured the win, and Victory wants a much-improved performance on how it started the campaign.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Morrison had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament and would miss the rest of the season in a huge blow to Victory.

However, there is set to be a boost for Victory, with Lynn Williams, the United States international who has signed as a guest player, set to make her Club debut.

The champion may also welcome back Melina Ayres from injury in what could be a milestone appearance for the forward.

Ayres is one appearance away from featuring 50 times for Victory in the Liberty A-League, and she would become the 10th player to achieve that feat, also joining current team-mates Amy Jackson, MelindaJ Barbieri and Privitelli.

Victory has also signed 17-time Australia international Alex Chidiac, who could also feature for the Club for the first time.

Player in focus

All eyes will be on USA star Williams. The attacker starred during her previous spell in Australia and shapes as being a key player for Victory during her stint.

What they said – Hopkins

on the squad and Morrison…
“Obviously we’re all pretty devastated for Kayla. It’s just a horrible thing that you see too often in the women’s game. She’s worked so hard this year, and last year, to get her to a position where she was this year. Just a real crying shame. She’s been good, she’s been strong, she’s been nice and positive this week and she’s been at our training sessions, typical her, that’s why we got her into a leadership position, that she’s thinking about the team now just as much as herself, which hopefully it can take a little bit of her mind off the injury and make her feel a little bit better as well. The girls that cramped on the weekend, we understood that we had to rest one or two players coming into the season, they had a few niggly knocks and injuries that meant we didn’t want to risk them in the last couple of pre-season games. We understood they’d be a little bit underdone last week so players like ‘AJ’ (Jackson) to get through the game and play 90 minutes was amazing, ‘Bungey’ the same, and then we got some really good minutes out of Lia, ‘Zimm’ was excellent, Harriet (Withers) as well. We’re pretty comfortable now. We’ve just made this whole week about recovery, about making sure that we drop the volume of our work this week and make sure when we come to the real workday, which is Sunday, that we’ve got plenty in the tank. The girls have responded well. They’ve done a little bit less on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the quality has been very, very good. I’m quite comfortable that we’re heading into the Derby with pretty much close to a fully squad and they’ve all got full tanks of petrol.”

on Ayres…
“Melina is doing really well at the moment. We’re taking her day by day. Every day she feels okay, which has been every day this week, we just move her onto the next stage and we’ll most probably make a decision on her later on in the week, but at the moment she’s looking really good and everything we’re asking her to do, she’s managing to do, so it’s about ticking a few boxes off, she’s back in training with us now so that’s quite hopeful, but we’ll take that on a day-to-day basis.

“When I first saw her, not playing for us as well, I really liked Melina and wanted to try and get her to the Club. We got her over here and what I’ve liked about her is that in the first few seasons here, I saw her as a nine, as a goalscorer, but at the time we had an internationaol goalscorer in Tash Dowie and I kind of wanted to try and play her as much as I could in other positions and jump in when Tash couldn’t play, but Tash was a player that didn’t miss many games. What I’ve liked about her is that she’s kept positive, she’s kept working, whenever we’ve played her in wide positions, wherever we’ve played her she’s come in and done really well for us, wasn’t always happy with that and nor should she have been either. She just waited her time and obviously last year she got the opportunity to start every week as our number nine where she wanted to and she showed how valuable she is. Having her missing for the first game was a big loss to us and we’re looking to have her back, get her back as soon as possible, hopefully that’ll be this week. she loves the Derby games, she comes alive in the Derby games but if she’s not ready, she’s not ready because the main thing is that we get her back and she’s back for the whole of the season. We won’t be taking any chances with her, but if she’s ready she’ll be part of the game because she’s a really important part of what we’re all about.”

on the Derby…
“The first part of this week was about the weekend’s game and making sure that we come out of the weekend’s game with a good understanding of where we are. We did a lot of things really very, very well, but there were still a couple of areas that we need to improve and we really needed to highlight that, but from tomorrow onwards it’s all about the Derby. It’s the biggest game of the season for us, it means so much to us as a team that we perform well in the Derby and we win as well. We’ll be ramping things up and if I’m being totally honest, the group that we’ve had over the years, they’ve really embraced it as well, it means a lot to them, maybe because the Club means a lot to us, being part of Melbourne Victory we’re really proud of the Club, the history, and we just want to grow that history by beating City every time we play them.”

Last time

Liberty A-League 2020/21 Round 10
Melbourne Victory 2-3 City
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Epping Stadium, Melbourne

Victory and City played out a five-goal thriller last season.

A Chidiac goal and Claudia Bunge own goal had City in control before fabulous strikes from MelindaJ Barbieri and Zimmerman for Victory.

But Withers, who is wearing Victory colours this season, scored an 86th-minute winner.

Head to head

Round 10, 2020/21: Victory 2-3 City at Epping Stadium
Round 6, 2020/21: City 0-6 Victory at CB Smith Reserve
Round 12, 2019/20: Victory 0-4 City at Lakeside Stadium
Round 5, 2019/20: City 1-0 Victory at ABD Stadium
Round 10, 2018/19: Victory 1-0 City at Epping Stadium