Melbourne Victory will begin its Westfield W-League season at home to Brisbane Roar on Sunday.
Victory’s opener to the 2020/21 campaign has been changed twice after previously been scheduled to face the Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory.
But Jeff Hopkins’ side will start its season at home to Brisbane at CB Smith Reserve.
Hopkins has overseen changes to his squad after making the Semi Finals in back-to-back seasons, including winning the Premier’s Plate in 2018/19.
Westfield Matildas great Lisa De Vanna, 36, headlines the arrivals as the forward returns for a third season at the club.
Melina Ayres, Angela Beard, Amy Jackson, Annalie Longo, Lia Privitelli, Polly Doran and Melissa Maizels were all part of the squad last season.
Meanwhile, young attackers Kyra Cooney-Cross and MelindaJ Barbieri and midfielder Tiffany Eliadis have also returned to the club, while Catherine Zimmerman, Kayla Morrison, Claudia Bunge, Maja Markovski, Natalie Martineau and Gabriela Garton have joined.
Victory is unbeaten in its previous two meetings with Brisbane, although the teams played out a 0-0 draw at Epping Stadium in December 2019.
Roar started its Westfield W-League season with a goalless draw against City.
Head coach Jeff Hopkins’ pre-match thoughts
on the changing schedule…
“In pre-season, we did talk about the situation with COVID and the fact that maybe things might not run as smoothly as in previous seasons so we’d have to be prepared for that and we’d have to be prepared to be a little bit agile and flexible and be able to just react to what’s put in front of us. I think that’s helped us a fair bit. The players have reacted really well, we’ve had a number of changes this week to our schedule and to their schedules more importantly, they’ve just taken it in their stride and to be honest I think they just want to play now. We’ve had a really good, positive pre-season, we’ve worked really hard, we’ve had some good performances in the games, good results. I think they’re just ready to play so whoever we put in front of them on the weekend, and obviously it’s going to be Brisbane, I think we’re going to get a really good reaction from them and I’m really looking forward to it and I think they are as well.”
on the squad…
“I’ve been really pleased with the quality of our recruitment, in terms of football wise but also in terms of the way the makeup of the side is in terms of personalities and the off-field side of things and the leadership, I think it’s gelled really well. Lisa De Vanna is one that is quite an obvious one, I think she’s been great, we brought her in obviously for her football qualities but also the intensity that she brings to the team. She’s had quite an effect on everyone else around her, just driving the standards, driving the intensity up, but there’s been a number of other players that have come in from outside and really had a positive effect on the group. Our two central defenders, Kayla Morrison and Claudia Bunge, although Claudia came in and did well initially and she had a bit of niggly injury, she’s just even been off the park, she’s just been really positive around the group and worked really hard to get herself back and into a position where she’s fit and she’s ready to go now. I’m really happy with the recruitment and I’m really excited to see where we can take this team as well because I think in terms of the team spirit and the positiveness, it’s hard to put your finger on it, but the real vibe you get around the team, I think it’s been really good and as good, if not better, than we’ve had here in all my time at the club in four and half, five years.”
“We watched them the other day. They dominated the game against City and they bring a real intensity to the game, they’re a team that likes to put a lot of pressure on you high up the field and obviously they’ve got a lot of quality in the team, Emily Gielnik, Katrina Gorry, Tameka Yallop, Clare Polkinghorne, Kim Carroll, obviously really showed that the other day. We know how good they are. They’re players that have been around the W-League for a number of years and dominated, but also they’ve got a good balance and a good blend of their local players as well. I’m expecting a really tough game. We won’t underestimate them by any means, but also watching the game the other day there’s also just a number of areas that I think that we can cause them a few problems with our group. They’ve definitely got a team that will be up there I think at the end of the season so it’s a really good test for us to play them nice and early. We’re really looking forward to it, they’ll be a tough, tough test for us, but something that we’re looking forward to. There’s a number of areas that we can cause them some serious problems.”
Westfield W-League 2019/20 Round 6
Melbourne Victory 0-0 Brisbane Roar
Saturday, December 21, 2019
Epping Stadium, Melbourne
Neither team was able to find a breakthrough when they met late in 2019.
Former Victory star Natasha Dowie had a great late chance, denied by Roar goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
CB Smith Reserve, Melbourne
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Kick-off: 6.05pm AEDT