Preview: Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory

History is with Melbourne Victory heading into the two-legged Major Semi-Final no matter how you look at it.

Date: Saturday, February 7
Kick-off: 6:30pm ACDT, 7:00pm AEST
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide
TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is FRESH FM (Adelaide) and SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. To purchase tickets visit

15 Hyundai A-League meetings: Adelaide – 5 wins, Melbourne – 7 wins, Draws – 3

Previous meeting
Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Round 15, January 2009

Finals meetings:
Melbourne Victory 6, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Grand Final, 2006/07
Melbourne Victory 2, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome, Major Semi-Final – Leg 2, 2006/07
Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Major Semi-Final – Leg 1, 2006/07

Past Five Games
Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome
Round 19: Adelaide United 2, Newcastle Jets 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Round 20: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium
Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium

Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome
Round 15: Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome,
Round 19: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium
Round 20: Melbourne Victory 3, Central Coast Mariners 0, Telstra Dome
Round 21: Melbourne Victory 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, Telstra Dome

History is with Melbourne Victory heading into the two-legged Major Semi-Final no matter how you look at it.

The Victory have lost just one of their past 10 against Adelaide, have beaten them three times from as many matches this year and defeated the Reds at the same stage two years ago. They also defeated them in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final that year (6-0 in case you forgot), and still have seven of the players from that team in the squad for this match. Adelaide has three.

In the history of the Hyundai A-League, no team has won a semi-final after hosting the first leg. Adelaide probably came closest to this when it almost won the Major Semi-Final on away goals two years ago before James Robinson bobbed up for the winner in injury time.

But history counts for little in the heat of finals football, and while admitting that the confidence gained by those three wins over the Reds this year is good going into these matches, Ernie Merrick said that won’t matter come 6:30 ACST Saturday night in Adelaide.

He will be counting on experience down the spine and the potency of his two strikers, Danny Allsopp and Archie Thompson to get the job done. He is determined to attack in the first leg.

Archie reckons Sasa Ognenovski is the man who stands between the Victory and a valuable away goal on Saturday. Certainly, Adelaide won’t be easy to score against having conceded just eight goals in its 10 games at Hindmarsh this year (six of them in two games).

Up the other end, the Melbourne defence has conceded just one goal from open play against Adelaide this year in 270 minutes of football. Aurelio Vidmar has indicated he may re-think his attacking strategy and that could see Kevin Muscat and Rody Vargas playing against two strikers instead of the usual one.

The battle of the midfield will be crucial to the result. Travis Dodd was well held in the most recent match between these two teams, but can be very influential if given too much space. The same is true for Melbourne’s Carlos Hernandez, who can be a real handful on his day. Heavy marking on the Costa Rican could create more chances for an in-form Nick Ward, who scored the winner when these sides last met, as well as Billy Celeski and Tom Pondeljak.

Evan Berger could be included on the bench for this game. One of four players included in an extended squad – the others are Michael Thwaite, Leigh Broxham and Nathan Elasi – Merrick has indicated Berger’s pace could be a useful weapon off the pine.

Adelaide may have lost reliable defender Robert Cornthwaite to suspension, but Ognenovski comes back in along with Ange Costanzo, Daniel Mullen and Alemao. There has been a hint of controversy over Adelaide getting Rostyn Griffiths to sign with the club on a four-week injury replacement deal for Jason Spagnuolo on the eve of the finals. But the Reds have operated within the rules and may have found themselves a wildcard in the former Blackburn midfielder.

Adelaide’s recent form has been very solid, and it only finished second to Melbourne due to an inferior goal scoring record this season. The Reds have lost just one of their past 10 Hyundai A-League matches – that was against Melbourne – and played six games in 22 days in January.

Adelaide United Squad. 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 5.Michael VALKANIS, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8. Kristian SARKIES, 9.Paul AGOSTINO, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Jonas SALLEY, 16. Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19. Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 27. Michael MARRONE, 28. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 30.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk).
*Three to be omitted.

In. ALEMAO (returns from injury), Sasa OGNENOVSKI (returns from suspension), Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (short term contract), Daniel MULLEN.

Out. Robert CORNTHWAITE (suspended).

Unavailable. 1.Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee – season), 6.CASSIO (calf – 1 week), 22.DIEGO (quad – indefinite), 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO (knee – 2 weeks).

Melbourne Victory Squad. 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.Sebastian RYALL, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD.
*Four to be omitted.

In. Michael THWAITE (promoted), Nathan ELASI (promoted), Leigh BROXHAM (promoted), Evan BERGER (promoted).

Out. Nil.

Unavailable. Nil.