ALM Preview: City v Wellington

Back at home against the table-topping Phoenix, a hot Saturday night clash awaits our City boys.

Still pushing for a finals spot, Melbourne City returns to AAMI Park to welcome the league leaders as we hope to rise back up the table with an important three points on home turf.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of this one.

How does the squad look?

Last week saw the return of Tolgay Arslan from suspension, slotting into the attacking midfield role ahead of Jimmy Jeggo and Steven Ugarkovic.

He wasn’t the only one back in the XI, both Marin Jakolis (hamstring) and Leo Natel (illness) taking up their familiar positions on the wing as we’d seen for so much of this season.

While Marco Tilio will still miss this matchup as he recovers from a hamstring injury, Socceroo Mat Leckie returns to the squad and the only question is whether or not he’ll play from the first whistle.

As always there willl be plenty of spark to inject off the bench, which will be all the more important this week given the visitors’ tendency to both score and concede in the final 25 minutes in recent weeks.

With a short turnaround to Tuesday’s catchup game against Western Sydney, the likes of Alessandro Lopane, Terry Antonis and Max Caputo are all very capable of having an impact off the bench should they not be thrown in from the get-go as Aurelio Vidmar manages his players in the most important stretch of our season.

Reversing the Round 5 result

Our City boys will be trying to get this matchup back onto our terms come Saturday, the Nix having beaten us for just the second time since 2020 when we last met in November.

A goal from Bulgarian Bozhidar Kraev was the difference that day as Wellington secured a 1-0 win, but it was only desperate defending that kept us out across the ditch, having had 21 shots to just eight.

This time, however, we face them at home where they haven’t beaten us in over a decade.

Having not lost at AAMI Park since Round 1, an exciting game is expected come Saturday night.

Converting upfront

Despite a tough season by his lofty standards, Jamie Maclaren isn’t far off the pace of the Phoenix’s leading goalscorer.

City’s old foe, Kosta Barbarouses, has netted on 10 occasions this season compared to Maclaren’s seven.

Having scored 13 times across his A-Leagues career against us, and Maclaren having scored 14 times against Wellington, it shapes up as an interesting game within a game as to who can better the other’s performance.

It’s been a tough 2024 to date for our skipper, but there’s no better place to bounce back than at our home of AAMI Park – where he’s scored more goals than any other player.

The Wellington defence will also have their hands full with Arslan’s home return, while Jakoliš and Leckie making runs down the wings will be a welcome sight for City fans.

Fixture Details

A-League Men: Round 20

Melbourne City FC v Wellington Phoenix

Saturday, March 9, 7:00PM KO


Get your tickets here!