Men’s Match Preview: Victory out to keep Finals dream alive

Melbourne Victory’s Isuzu UTE A-League side will be looking to keep their chances of qualifying for the A-League Finals Series alive on Saturday night as they face Western Sydney Wanderers at Commbank Stadium. 

Despite last week’s 0-0 draw at home against the Glory, Tony Popovic’s side won’t be lacking confidence heading into this week’s clash, battering Perth in all aspects of the game, bar the scoreboard, and going unbeaten in their last three matches in the competition. 

With the gap to sixth spot still four points, opportunities to bridge the gap are beginning to dwindle for Victory but with Perth and Sydney FC going head-to-head this weekend in a sixth vs seventh encounter, this weekend’s must-win status has become even more important with points guaranteed to be picked up and dropped by the teams hovering around the top six heading into the penultimate round of the season. 

Once again, Bruno Fornaroli and Fernando Romero shone in the contest with the latter rattling the post in the first half as he latched onto a long pass and was millimeters away from breaking the deadlock. Defensive rocks, Roderick Miranda and Damien Da Silva were also prominent in ensuring the clean sheet and the duo will look to keep a potent Wanderers forward line out this week.  

Victory will be buoyed by their record against sides in the top six with their unbeaten streak beginning with three-point hauls against Central Coast and Wellington as well as a 70 minute draw with Melbourne City and a point against Adelaide United. 

The Wanderers’ past month has seen them stumble towards the Finals Series. Despite a commanding Derby win against Sydney FC three weeks ago, Marko Rudan’s side has picked up a point against Macarthur and suffered losses to Adelaide and Perth which saw their grip on third place slip. 

Brandon Borello has been their shining light this season, scoring seven goals in his past ten appearances and his scoring form has been the barometer for the Wanderers, however the loss of their influential captain, Marcello was a telling factor last week against Macarthur with the central defender also missing this weekend’s clash for an indiscretion after the final whistle against Adelaide United two weeks ago. 

For Victory though, the equation is simple. Anything less than three points will make Finals almost out of reach while a win will keep the dream alive for Popovic’s side to not only qualify for Finals but add another scalp in the top six that will have the league not wanting to face Victory in the Finals. 

Melbourne Victory Squad

1.Matt ACTON, 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Enrique LOPEZ, 4.Rai MARCHAN, 5.Damien DA SILVA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 8.Josh BRILLANTE, 10.Bruno FORNAROLI, 11.Ben FOLAMI, 14.Connor CHAPMAN, 16.Stefan NIGRO, 18. Bruce KAMAU, 19.Fernando ROMERO, 20.Paul IZZO, 21.Roderick MIRANDA, 23.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS, 24.Nishan VELUPILLAY, 26.Lleyton BROOKS, 28.Will WILSON, 29.Eli ADAMS

In: 28.Will WILSON (promoted), 29.Eli ADAMS (promoted)

Out: nil

Unavailable: 17.Luis NANI (injured), 22.Jake BRIMMER (injured), 31.Matt BOZINOVSKI (injured)

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League – Round 24
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory
Saturday 15 April
Kick-off: 7.45pm (AEST)
Commbank Stadium, Parramatta