Although Besart Berisha’s first match against his old club didn’t live up to the expectations on the pitch, it certainly created its own drama off the pitch. Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey, as well as the entire league, was unaware at the time that this would be his last game in charge of the reigning champions.
An important three points
The revelation that Mike Mulvey’s last game in charge was a 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory was arguably the biggest thing to come out of Friday night’s game.
A relatively poor display from both sides resulted in a match that lacked attacking flair and provided an even greater dearth of goal scoring chances.
At the end of the 90 minutes it was only an own goal from Roar defender Jade North which separated the two sides. Although the Victory looked the better of the two teams, coach Kevin Muscat was understandably displeased with the performance.
“We could’ve done things better that were in our control. We could’ve raised the tempo at times, we could’ve got the ball down and moved it a lot quicker…but we found another way to win tonight,” Muscat said post match.
Ultimately, those three points are vital not only for the long term, considering how tight the league is at the top, but it ensures that the Victory maintain their unbeaten start to the season going into Friday night’s match against the undefeated Adelaide United, as well as boasting an unblemished home record of four wins from four.
The blistering start to the season by both Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, combined with the historical rivalry between the two teams makes this week’s fixture even more intense.
Despite having already played out a one all draw in round two, this fixture looks set to give a better indication as to where both teams currently are and the strength of their respective title credentials.
Muscat will be able to play with two recognised centre backs for the first time in weeks with Nick Ansell returning to the squad. After overcoming injury and playing full matches in the Victory’s National Youth League team for the past two weeks, Ansell will partner Adrian Leijer in the heart of defence.
Utility defender Jason Geria has also returned to full fitness and has been named in Muscat’s squad. Only Matthieu Delpierre remains unavailable through a foot injury.
Along with the return of two defenders, Victory notched up their second clean sheet in a row against the Roar – something the entire team can take confidence from.
They will need this belief against the attacking prowess of the Adelaide lineup. The Reds’ have two major inclusions, with Bruce Djite and Marcelo Carrusca both returning to Josep Gombau’s squad to take on the Victory.
Title credentials to be tested
This match, besides being one of the original and most heated rivalries in the entire A-League, looks sets to provide fans with a glimpse of potential finals football, presuming these teams stay in the top half of the table.
Melbourne and Adelaide have had some classic encounters, including two grand finals. The Victory have the advantage in the head to head, with 17 wins compared to Adelaide’s 10.
Muscat was quick to praise Adelaide saying that “they are in very good form and they are a good team”. As a former player, Muscat also knows how important these games are to the fans and has said “[he] can sense a big occasion coming”.
The fixture ties in with the Victory’s 10 year anniversary celebrations, and the home side will wear a specially designed kit for the match.
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan Coe (GK), 2.Jason Geria, 4.Nick Ansell, 5.Mark Milligan (C), 6.Leigh Broxham, 7.Gui Finkler, 8.Besart Berisha, 9.Kosta Barbarouses, 10.Archie Thompson, 11.Connor Pain, 14.Fahid Ben Khalfallah, 15.Daniel Georgievski, 16.Rashid Mahazi, 20.Lawrence Thomas (GK), 21.Carl Valeri, 22.Jesse Makarounas, 23.Adrian Leijer, 24.Scott Galloway
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Jason Geria (returns from injury), 4.Nick Ansell (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 17.Matthieu Delpierre (foot – TBC)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene Galekovic (C) (GK), 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Dylan McGowan, 5.Osama Malik, 7.Pablo Sánchez, 8.Isaías, 9.Sergio Cirio, 10.Marcelo Carrusca, 11.Bruce Djite, 14.Cameron Watson, 16.Craig Goodwin, 17.Awer Mabil, 18.Jimmy Jeggo, 21.Tarek Elrich, 22.Fabio Ferreira, 24.Bruce Kamau, 30.John Hall (GK)
**Two to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Bruce Djite (returns from injury), 10.Marcelo Carrusca (returns from injury)
Unavailable: 20.Paul Izzo (GK) (calf – 3-4 weeks), 23.Jordan Elsey (knee – indefinite)