What to watch for: BG Pathum v City

The excitement is building for Melbourne City FC’s inaugural AFC Champions League campaign which is due to kick off Friday night when the team takes on BG Pathum United FC.

Coming off a disappointing defeat in the league, City will look to reset with a fresh mentality heading into the continental competition and hope to carry on their otherwise strong recent form when they step into the Asian spotlight.

You’ll be able to watch all City AFC Champions League games via 10play or Paramount+!

With plenty to be excited about for fans, there’s so much to be keeping an eye out for come the historic night:

City’s first-ever Champions League XI

Regardless of the outcome, history will be made when City finally takes to the pitch for the first time in the AFC Champions League on Friday.

Whilst it goes without saying that a small piece of that history will go to each starting player who contributes to that milestone, the exact lineup that Patrick Kisnorbo will name to take on BG Pathum is anyone’s guess amidst so much competition for positions and injuries to key starters.

The sidelining of Aiden O’Neill, Florin Berenguer (both injury) and Connor Metcalfe (COVID) will leave City light on midfield stocks, creating a selection dilemma to be solved heading into the first group game.

Behind that trio, Rostyn Griffiths, Taras Gomulka and Marco Tilio look to be the likely midfield three that Kisnorbo turns to, but it also could be a chance for City fans to get an extended look at the likes of Manuel Pucciarelli or Tsubasa Endoh.

Elsewhere, Tom Glover and Matt Sutton will continue to battle it out for the starting goalkeeper role, whilst Jordan Bos’ strong recent form will undoubtedly keep Scott Jamieson on his toes at left-back.

Whilst a congested upcoming schedule will mean that just about every squad member will get an opportunity at some stage, fans will certainly be watching for who Kisnorbo entrusts with a starting role in the club’s historic moment on Friday.

Which City will we see?

No doubt, we’d all rather keep Saturday’s Melbourne Derby loss in the past, and though it’ll be brought up briefly here, the past is where City fans will hope it stays with our huge ACL group stage opener coming up.

Prior to the 3-0 defeat, City had been undefeated in its past 11 games and hadn’t conceded in its previous three. It goes without saying that Saturday’s first-half performance and its consequences came as a shock.

Now with the opportunity for the squad to reset its mentality by quite literally changing its surroundings, fans will hope to see the return of that dominant City side that went unbeaten for so long, rather than have Saturday’s performance become the earliest symptom of a turn in our fortunes.

A unique home advantage for BG Pathum

Whilst the centralised nature of the 2022 Champions League group stage has certainly aided the viability of having the competition go ahead and makes for an interesting dynamic, it will be even more intriguing to see how City’s Friday night opposition capitalises on playing all six group games at their home stadium.

Indeed, BG Pathum United should benefit greatly from being the only team in Group G to have home fans in attendance, an advantage that could bolster their prospects of surviving the group stage.

It will be our City boys who first have to face the noise of BG Pathum’s home support, so how much of a factor that plays will be of great interest come Friday night.