What to watch for: Christmas Derby

All roads lead to AAMI Park on Saturday night and City will be hosting Victory in a Christmas Derby, the second leg of a huge doubleheader.

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Here’s what to keep an eye out for in Saturday’s massive fixture:

The head-to-head record; a changing of the guard

Heading into this edition of the Melbourne Derby, we’ve already got one eye on the head-to-head record between the teams.

This Saturday’s meeting will be the 36th time that City and Victory have met in all competitions, with each side having won 13 times and settling for a draw on nine occasions.

By the end of the night, the historical balance of the Derby could be back in City’s favour for the first time since 2012.

Also keep an eye on Jamie Maclaren over the course of the 90 minutes, with the striker needing two goals to surpass Besart Berisha (9) to become the fixture’s outright leading goalscoring.

Kisnorbo’s teamsheet prior to kick-off

There are selection dilemmas everywhere you look heading into Saturday’s blockbuster clash and fans will no doubt be eagerly awaiting Patrick Kisnorbo’s starting lineup to take on the old enemy.

Florin Berenguer has been one of the early-season standouts with his contributions at the point of midfield but started on the bench in Round 4 following a busy schedule, with Marco Tilio assuming his role for the night.

In defence, the early-season form of Andrew Nabbout and Scott Galloway has kept Joe Marston medallist Nathaniel Atkinson out of the starting line-up, but the youngster will have given Kisnorbo selection headaches when he popped up to score the winner off the bench in City’s Round 4 game against Perth Glory.

Additionally, with Rostyn Griffiths and Manuel Pucciarelli approaching match fitness, there may be further surprises for fans when the teamsheet is revealed ahead of Saturday’s big Derby.

The advantage of a Derby atmosphere

Visiting teams have been able to frustrate City at home in recent weeks, with Western United and Perth Glory finding success in sitting deep and clogging their defensive area.

The chances of Melbourne Victory replicating that tactic, likely to be looked down upon in such an occasion as the Derby, seem minute.

With Victory likely to try and play their natural game, the City boys will hope to exploit any additional space that they’ve not been able to navigate in recent games.

How Victory defend Nabbout without their first-choice left-back

Whilst Victory may have avoided a slip-up against Adelaide United in Round 4, they weren’t able to come away from the game unscathed.

Jason Davidson’s 88th-minute sending-off will mean the first-choice left-back is unavailable to feature in the Derby, with Stefan Nigro the most likely candidate to step up and take his place.

Whilst Nigro is certainly an accomplished player at A-League level – he featured heavily for Central Coast in their surprise third-placed finish last season – Davidson had the pre-existing relationship with Popovic and overseas experience that would have aided his prospects coming up against Andrew Nabbout in the Derby.

City’s explosive right-winger has probably been our most impactful player in the final third this season, recording a goal and an assist from his first four appearances, also recording 13 shots (equal-third in the league).