The Derby: What happened last time, what’s happened since, what’s on the line?

With a huge Melbourne Derby on the horizon this Saturday night at AAMI Park, we take an in-depth look at the big clash.

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What happened last time?

When the teams met in Round 5, Victory had looked like one of the early Premiership contenders and were coming up against a stumbling City side that had recorded two narrow wins, a draw and a loss.

Accordingly, Victory went ahead early on with a quickly-taken Jake Brimmer free-kick to clip Francesco Margiotta in behind the City defence, with the Italian then opening the scoring with a composed finish past Tom Glover.

With his side 1-0 at the break, Patrick Kisnorbo’s side came out firing in the second half, scything through the Victory defence with a quickfire double from Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout that came about thanks to some brilliant passing in the final third.

However, City’s early-season trend of dropping points from winning positions came back to bite the team as Nick D’Agostino came off the bench to equalise in the 81st minute, denying Kisnorbo’s men a first Derby win of the season.

What’s happened since?

To that point, City hadn’t been able to string together consecutive wins with consistent and clinical performances. Though it took a couple more score draws against Western Sydney and Adelaide, the team finally found some improved form soon after, winning seven of our past 11 games since then.

Kisnorbo’s side has also become the highest-scoring team in the league over that run, lead by a fearsome front four of Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout and Florin Berenguer.

Conversely, despite success in the FFA Cup in the aftermath of the Christmas Derby, Victory have endured some extremely patchy form in the league. A post-Derby win over Western United was followed by a run of five league games without success for the Victory, but coach Tony Popovic has been able to steady the ship with two wins and a draw in his side’s past three league games against Central Coast (twice) and Macarthur FC.

For comparison, City has collected 25 points in 13 league games since the Christmas Derby at a rate of 1.9 points per game. Victory has played nine times in the league, collecting 12 points at a rate of 1.3 points per game.

At present, first-placed City leads its cross-town rival by 11 points, with the Victory sitting in 5th with four games in hand.

Our cross-town rivals also come into this one after a quick turnaround from a midweek Champions League Playoff against Vissel Kobe. Victory went down 4-3 in extra-time, with D’Agostino scoring twice and joined on the scoresheet by Ben Folami.

How could the rest of each team’s season be affected by this Derby?

For City, the narrative for every single game over the remainder of the season is simple: Win at all costs.

The team needs to do all it can to maintain its slender lead at the top of the table and keep the pressure on Western United, who we’ll hope to see start slipping up following a club record nine-game undefeated streak.

As for Victory, a Derby loss could genuinely hurt their Finals chances despite their solid position and several games in hand.

Current seventh-placed side Wellington Phoenix, who have played the same amount of games as Victory (14), will leapfrog Tony Popovic’s side if they can secure three points against Newcastle Jets on Friday night. Of the teams currently outside the top six, Central Coast (15 points from 14 games) would consider themselves Finals contenders, whilst Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers (both on 15 from 15) are also a chance.

The upcoming 37th instalment of the Melbourne Derby also holds ramifications for whichever team seeks to claim bragging rights as the ‘best team in Melbourne’, with the head-to-head record currently reading 13-10-13 in all competitions.

City are undefeated in the last five Derbies and will hope to record another win in the blockbuster fixture to tilt the head-to-head in their favour.