A trip across the Tasman, two Melbourne Derbies and finals rivalries rekindled, Melbourne City are set for an enthralling month of football to kick-start the Hyundai A-League season.
With four tantalising fixtures in Melbourne and an FFA Cup Semi Final to look forward to, we take a closer look at who John van’t Schip’s side will face in the opening month of the campaign.
Round 1 – Wellington Phoenix vs City (A)
City will begin the A-League season on the road for the second consecutive campaign when John van’t Schip’s side travel across the Tasman for a tricky Round 1 encounter against Wellington Phoenix on October 8.
Historically speaking, there is no tougher venue to visit than Westpac Stadium.
City’s memorable Elimination Final success two seasons ago was only the Club’s second ever away win against the Phoenix, while Ernie Merrick’s side ran out 2-1 winners in the solitary fixture between the two sides in New Zealand last season.
Safely negotiate a difficult away trip, and City will have hit the ground running ahead of the first Melbourne Derby of the season.
Round 2 – Victory vs City (A)
A contest notorious for producing remarkable goals, fiery exchanges and a pulsating atmosphere, City and Victory will square off in first Melbourne Derby of the new season in Round 2.
Throw in an A-League debut for City striker Tim Cahill in the cauldron of a packed out Etihad Stadium, and the stage is set for one of the most highly anticipated matches of the season.
City will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the result endured in last season’s opening Melbourne Derby – also played in Round 2 – where a spirited comeback was halted by a late goal in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at Etihad Stadium.
Round 3 – City vs Glory (H)
Bruno Fornaroli will certainly remember the last time he faced Perth Glory at AAMI Park.
The Uruguayan ace brought a boisterous crowd of 11,273 to its feet with an attacking performance of the highest order, netting sensational bicycle kick and free-kick either side of half-time to fire City to a 2-0 win in the Club’s first ever home final.
Now tasked with the responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband, Fornaroli will lead City out for its first home game of the new A-League season against Perth in Round 3 on October 21.
City will take great confidence from a period of home dominance against the Glory, with John van’t Schip’s side unbeaten at home on the past seven meetings between the two sides.
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FFA Cup Semi Final – Victory vs City (A)
Two Melbourne Derbies in the space of two weeks, this is what football is all about.
City will square off against its Melbourne rivals at AAMI Park on October 25, in a contest which will take place only 10 days after Derby hostilities are resumed in the A-League.
Only this time, a place in the final of the FFA Cup is on the line.
Despite being drawn as the ‘away’ side, City will take great comfort from its formidable Derby record at AAMI Park, emerging with wins in three of the past four encounters at the venue.
The two Derby fixtures provide City with an early opportunity to secure a maiden FFA Cup final berth and gain a psychological boost over its rivals in the early stages of the new season.
Round 4 – City vs Adelaide (H)
There’s no better way to end the month than with a home clash against the reigning A-League champions.
City will entertain Adelaide United at AAMI Park in Round 4 of the A-League season on Friday 28 October; the first of two home Friday night blockbusters to be played against the Reds.
Both sides shared the spoils with two wins apiece from the four encounters played in 2015/16, but John van’t Schip’s were unable to curtail the Adelaide juggernaut during a 4-1 defeat in last year’s Semi Final.
That experience will undoubtedly serve as motivation for the upcoming campaign and further develop one of the competition’s most intriguing rivalries.
Wellington Phoenix vs Melbourne City – HAL Round 1, Saturday 8 October.
Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City – HAL Round 2, Saturday 15 October
Melbourne City vs Perth Glory – HAL Round 3, Friday 21 October – BUY TICKETS
Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City – FFA Cup Semi Final, Tuesday 25 October
Melbourne City vs Adelaide United – HAL Round 4, Friday October 28 – BUY TICKETS