What to watch for: City v United City

Melbourne City FC will be eager to pick up its first ever AFC Champions League win when it faces United City.

Kicking off at 12:00am Tuesday morning (AEST), this will be City’s second fixture of Group G.

Here’s a few reasons to stay up and have a late night cheering on your City boys:

A first ACL win

Following a 1-1 draw to Thailand’s BG Pathum United on Friday night, City will be desperate to pick up its first win on the continental stage.

Patrick Kisnorbo’s men were good value for their point in their first foray into ACL football, earning a share of the spoils in what can be described as a pretty fair result.

It was all City early and things were looking good when an Andrew Nabbout rocket hit the back of the net in the 22nd minute, but Thailand’s champions proved they were going to lie down and quickly hit back.

City worked hard to create chances for the rest of the match with its most promising attacks coming down the wings via Nabbout and Mathew Leckie, yet it wasn’t able to find the crucial goal to separate teams.

Now with a couple of extra training sessions under the belt and a few extra days to acclimatise to the conditions, expect a fired-up City team early Tuesday morning.

Possesions ≠ goals

Tuesday clash is certainly set to make for fascinating watching.

United City are a tough team to get a read on – particularly because they haven’t played domestic football for a couple of years now. The impacts of COVID-19 have limited them to merely playing in Cup competitions and friendlies in recent times.

What we did see on Friday in their opening Group G fixture was a team happy to sit back and defend. United only had 35% of possession and only managed two shots across the 90 minutes – something that will no doubt be of interest to Patrick Kisnorbo.

Given Melbourne City usually are a possession-based team, it would appear they’ll get plenty of opportunities to break down their Filipino opposition.

With Florin Berenguer out and the availability of Connor Metcalfe still unclear, City will be missing a couple of its most creative outlets from midfield, which brings opportunity for  perhaps an unlikely hero to stand up, or City’s Socceroo front three to do some damage on the continental stage.

Keeping a clean sheet

It goes without saying but if City can pick up a clean sheet on Tuesday morning, it certainly has the quality further up the pitch to ensure it walks away with three points.

City has been relatively strong defensively as of late, conceding just one goal in its previous four matches before allowing three Derby goals in half an hour before departing for Bangkok.

Although BG Pathum did miss a couple of chances, it was a reasonably strong performance defensively from City in tough conditions on Friday night.

With Nuno Reis and Scott Jamieson now back in the fold, Kisnorbo has virtually a full strength back four – so expect the team’s defensive performances to continue to improve through the remainder of the group stage.