The 2023/24 A-League Men’s season is here, with your City boys set to take on cross-town rivals Western United at home on Saturday evening.
There’s been no shortage of City football in recent weeks with six competitive fixtures already under our belt thanks to our Australia Cup and AFC Champions League campaigns, but domestic A-Leagues action finally returns to AAMI Park tonight.
Here are a few things to watch when Rado Vidosic’s side open their season!
A-Leagues debuts everywhere you look
A number of new faces are set for their A-Leagues debuts tonight after plenty of change from last season. The likes of Tolgay Arslan, Hamza Sakhi, Samuel Souprayen and Leo Natel are all set to be involved as we welcome our new foreign contingent to the league.
Plenty are set for their first A-Leagues appearance in a City shirt too, with Jamie Young, Steven Ugarkovic, Terry Antonis and Alessandro Lopane making off-season moves to the club.
While he’s certainly not a new face to City fans, Aziz Behich is set for his first league match for the club in almost a decade.
He will be full of confidence after returning from Socceroos duty following a pair of fixtures against England and New Zealand, and of course, scored in his last match in a City shirt.
He scored the opener just four minutes into what was a chaotic first half against Zhejiang Professional in China. Max Caputo also got his name on the scoresheet early on, while the hosts had the ball in the back of the net twice in the first 20 minutes too, although one was ruled out for offside.
Who makes the starting XI cut?
While we may have already seen our City boys in action a handful of times over the last couple of months, our starting XI for tomorrow is far from locked in.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday, Vidosic said the recent injury to Mathew Leckie had made it tough to determine his best starting XI ahead of the new season.
He also confirmed that Leckie had been training during the week and was hopeful to see the Socceroos winger out there on Saturday.
In his absence, we’ve seen Alessandro Lopane and Max Caputo both used out wide which could be the case once again should Leckie not be passed fit to start, while City fans will be hoping Saturday could see a long-awaited City debut for Brazillian winger, Leo Natel.
There are also plenty of question marks over the make-up of the back four with a number of players pressing their claims for inclusion into the XI.
Behich will be the biggest watch after having played a full 90 minutes against New Zealand in London on Wednesday morning (AEDT), with Samuel Souprayen or even nominal right-backs Callum Talbot or Scott Galloway able to slot in on the left.
This could open the door for Nuno Reis to return to the heart of defence after having been used on the right-hand side in our ACL win over Zhejiang.
Kicking off a busy few weeks
We’ve had over two weeks of preparation for this clash following our last ACL fixture, but that certainly won’t be the case over the coming weeks.
Saturday represents the start of 6 games in just over three weeks as we twice face Thailand outfit Buriram United in between our opening four matches of the A-League Men’s season.
Given this will be the most rested Vidosic’s team will be over that period, expect to see a fired-up City side who are desperate to begin their season with three points.
Following our A-League Men’s opener, your City boys will fly out to Thailand on Sunday in preparation to take on Buriram on Wednesday night.
A-League Men: Round 1
Melbourne City FC v Western United
Saturday 21 October, 5:30pm KO