The final game of the regular season is upon us and Melbourne City will be looking to finish with a bang when we face Western Sydney at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Having clinched a third straight Premiers Plate just under a fortnight ago, your City boys will now look to extend their unbeaten run out to 8 games ahead of a blockbuster finals series where they aim to secure the double.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Friday night football.
Maclaren stands alone
We will head into Friday night’s clash against the Wanderers with the greatest goalscorer the league has ever seen leading our attack. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
In case you missed it, Jamie Maclaren last week broke Besart Berisha’s all-time A-Leagues goalscoring record in our 3-1 win over Western United.
Having sealed the milestone with a hattrick, Maclaren is hitting serious goalscoring form at the right part of the season, having now scored 5 goals in his past 3 games to get his tally for the season up to 23.
He also became the first player to ever reach 100 goals for Melbourne City, cementing his status as one of the greatest players to ever don our colours. In fact, he’s the only player ever to hit triple figures for a single A-Leagues club ever.
With City already riding the high of claiming yet another Premiers Plate, the added boost of Maclaren’s individual feat will no doubt fill the side with plenty of confidence heading into Friday’s fixture.
A night of celebration
Three years, three straight Premiers Plates.
City became history makers by claiming our third straight Premiers Plate, etching us into the history books to cap off what has been a remarkable run of dominance over the past three seasons.
Boasting one of the most star-studded lineups the competition has seen, City has led from the front all season long.
Friday night will be a special one in our club’s history, with the team to lift the Premiers Plate in front of our home fans at AAMI Park as well as paying homage to Jamie Maclaren’s goal-scoring feats in a special post-match presentation.
In such a memorable occasion for the club, Friday will be a night of celebration which will no doubt add extra motivation for the side to get the job done against the 4th placed Wanderers – who have plenty to play for in their own right.
How will our XI look?
All eyes will be on the team list announcement an hour before kickoff on Friday, with the exact makeup of the starting XI anyone’s guess as we head into our final regular season game.
With the Premiers Plate already secured, squad rotation could be on the cards in some way, shape or form.
Speaking with media over the last week, Head Coach Rado Vidosic has told of his plans to use Friday’s fixture as a ‘test run’ ahead of Finals, although it isn’t as simple as just picking his strongest XI.
Both Mathew Leckie and Richard van der Venne made their long-awaited returns via the bench, seeing the final half-hour of last week’s win.
Last week also saw Valon Berisha and Curtis Good missing from the squad through rotation, so it will be interesting to see how Vidosic goes about selecting his XI for Friday while having one eye on Finals already, you’d imagine.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?
Last time these two sides met they played out an extremely frustrating draw that saw City rack up 31 shots to the Wanderers two.
An early Brandon Borrello strike for the Wanderers was quickly nullified thanks to a superb goal from Dutchman Richard van der Venne, who curled one into the top corner just before the hour mark.
Despite controlling all the possession, chances and momentum throughout the game, City would be forced to settle for a point.
HOW HAVE OUR OPPONENTS BEEN TRAVELLING?
The Wanderers are coming off a dominant 4-0 win over Wellington, with four different players getting their names on the scoresheet across the duration of that contest.
Marko Rudan’s side will have a lot on the line, still in the running to finish second should they secure all three points on Friday and have other results go their way.
A-League Men: Round 26
Melbourne City FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 28 April, 7:45pm