New-look Victory defence to hold the fort

Melbourne Victory’s staunch defensive unit drove the Club’s remarkable turnaround last season.

Conceding a league-best 25 goals across 26 games, Victory suffocated their opposition all the way to Cup triumph and a second-place league finish.

The unit will return in 2022/23 with a few alterations, most notably Spanish left full-back Cadete and goalkeeper Paul Izzo.

28-year-old Cadete has been Tony Popovic’s first-choice option at left-back through the pre-season, recording multiple assists and displaying impressive attacking flair.

Izzo – who recorded 31 clean sheets in 50 appearances for Greek side Xanthi before signing a three-year deal at Victory – has highlighted his prowess between the sticks across the Friendlies.

Izzo in goals against Manchester United at the MCG

Fresh faces in central defenders George Timotheou and Matt Bozinovski (returning from loan), full-back Noah Smith and goalkeeper Ahmad Taleb also bolster the team’s defensive options for the new year.

The familiarity will come from returning stars Roderick Miranda, Matt Spiranovic and Jason Geria, three of the premier A-League Men defenders.

Miranda and Spiranovic – who have each scored in recent Friendlies – combine experience, skill and size to form a formidable partnership in the middle while reigning PFA Team of the Season right-back Geria is as reliable as any.

Stef Nigro, Matt Acton, Jay Barnett and of course, Leigh Broxham, will also offer flexibility throughout the campaign.

With the likes of Luis Nani, Jake Brimmer, Nick D’Agostino and Chris Ikonomidis creating opportunities, another stoic season down back could lead to further glory.

Victory’s A-League Men season kicks off on Saturday 8 October against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.

Victory’s first home fixture is the following Saturday 15 October against Western Sydney at AAMI Park.