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Dec 22, 2023   |  5:26PM AET

Match Preview: The Melbourne Derby

Match Preview: The Melbourne Derby

We’ll have both City squads in action this Saturday night for what shapes up to be a massive night of football at AAMI Park.

For the first time, we’ll have a Melbourne Derby doubleheader in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd at AAMI Park.

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Here are a few of the key storylines heading into Saturday’s fixtures!

ALW

Melbourne City FC v Melbourne Victory

Saturday 22 December, 5:00pm KO

AAMI Park

Not just another game

There’s no doubt this one has been circled on the calendar since the fixture was released back in August.

It doesn’t get any bigger than a Melbourne Derby and all eyes will be on AAMI Park when we hit 5pm on Saturday.

It’s a fixture that has historically seen plenty of action with no shortage of goals. There’s never been a scoreless Melbourne Derby and draws even as a whole have been rare – just two coming in the 18 previous meetings.

The win tally is evenly split at eight apiece, so Saturday presents an opportunity for both teams to pull ahead in the overall head-to-head tally.

A perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways

A fast start to the season saw us on top of the table six games in and yet to taste defeat.

We’ve dropped away a little over the last couple of weeks but for good reason, going into our top-of-the-table clash a fortnight ago against Perth with several players either out or only able to play limited roles due to having just returned from international.

Following that loss we last week salvaged a point on the road against the Mariners thanks to a cracking Rebekah Stott goal.

While our internationals were all back in the starting XI, Kaitlyn Torpey missed through injury while Julia Grosso was only able to come off the bench.

Vidosic will be hoping to have both of his starting full-backs available from the first whistle this week given their importance to the squad.

ALM

Melbourne City FC v Melbourne Victory

Saturday 22 December, 7:45pm KO

AAMI Park

Midfield balance

One of the most intriguing comments to come out of last week was from Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar in his post-game press conference.

He was quick to answer a journalist’s question on Hamza Sakhi playing a deeper role, making it very clear that he views the Moroccan as a ‘six’.

The defensive midfield position is somewhere we have seen Sakhi used in over our last couple of fixtures, a role he seems to be thriving in.

Now that it’s been made clear from Vidmar that’s where he is best suited, it will be of particular interest to see if the midfield mix changes at all.

Sakhi-Ugarkovic-Arslan would still appear to be the preferred midfield trio after starting in the past two consecutive games, but with young gun Ale Lopane – fresh off a late equaliser – waiting in the wings and the experienced Terry Antonis also capable of stepping in, fans will be watching on closely in the weeks to come to see if any changes are made.

Strengthening up in defence

You don’t have to be a diehard fan to know we haven’t been quite as resolute at the back as we want to be so far this season, leaking a few more goals than we’d like to.

We’ll need to turn that around quickly – currently having conceded the equal second-most goals of any team in the A-League and now coming up against the top-scoring Victory.

The form of Curtis Good and Samuel Souprayen in particular has been strong in recent weeks, so we’ll be looking for another solid display from our central defensive duo to secure a much-needed clean sheet on Saturday.

As Vidmar often comments, defence starts up the top of the pitch – so it’ll be a team effort from City to deny Victory the time on the ball required to create any clear-cut chances.

Up the other end of the pitch we’ll be looking for the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Tolgay Arslan and Marin Jakolis to fire.

The Melbourne Derby is a stage the former is familiar with as the all-time leading scorer in the fixture, while Arslan and Jakolis will be just a couple of players who will experience a Melbourne Derby for the first time.

Fan Behaviour

Melbourne City FC is dedicated to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all fans, staff, players, and match officials. When attending matches, please be considerate of other fans to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

By adhering to the A-Leagues Terms of Admission and the Football Australia National Spectator Code of Behaviour, we can ensure that our game can continue to be enjoyed in a positive and respectful manner. 

If you encounter any negative behaviour on match day, please alert stadium personnel or security. Let’s make every match a memorable and enjoyable experience for all.