What to watch for: City v Wellington

Backing up from a 2-2 Christmas Derby draw on Saturday night, Melbourne City FC faces a quick turnaround for its next FFA Cup fixture.

Your City boys will be back in action this Wednesday night when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Casey Fields as they look to progress to the semi-finals.

This fixture will be free to enter for all! City Members can simply show their membership card or mobile barcode to enter, while non-members can click here to redeem a ticket.

Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for on Wednesday:

Who gets entrusted to secure us Cup progression? 

The rotation dilemma seems to pop up every time we have a midweek game, but there’s an added element to the discussion when the task at hand is a knockout FFA Cup Quarter Final. 

Whilst the team is only one game into its latest busy period of fixtures, the need to rest players may spring up depending on individual circumstances, but Patrick Kisnorbo will be wary of striking a balance to ensure the team is still able to win its Cup tie.  

Having missed Saturday’s Christmas Derby with a minor niggle, Mathew Leckie may be back in contention if he’s able to prove his fitness by Wednesday and would bolster City’s Cup squad in a big way.

Manuel Pucciarelli looms as another prime contender for minutes, having started City’s Round of 16 clash with Hume City and featuring on the bench on Saturday night.  

Additionally, the fierce competition for City’s starting right-back position may prove an opportunity for Kisnorbo to reliably call on Scott Galloway if he deems Nathaniel Atkinson to be in need of a rest given the short turnaround.

On the note of opportunity… 

A potential return to action for Colakovski 

Following Jamie Maclaren’s sending-off in Saturday’s Derby – the first red card of his professional career – Stefan Colakovski looms as one of the most likely candidates to be called upon by Kisnorbo to fill a significant void up top in Maclaren’s absence. 

The 21-year-old has played just a handful of minutes for City since his start against South Melbourne in the FFA Cup Round of 32 – in part due to illness – and will be eager to get back on the pitch for his boyhood club and will certainly be one to watch if he is named to start on Wednesday.

Andrew Nabbout, Mathew Leckie, Manuel Pucciarelli and Max Caputo also loom as contenders to take up Maclaren’s vacated No. 9 role.  

City to expose a weakened and underperforming Phoenix defence 

In their five opening matches of the new Izuzu UTE A-League season, Wellington have failed to keep a clean sheet on their way to conceding a league-high 10 goals. This is also backed up by data from FootyStats stating that the Phoenix concede a higher Expected Goals (xG) value per 90 minutes than any other team in the league – for those playing at home, City possess both the league’s best xG scored and xG conceded values.  

The Phoenix’ plight has only compounded in recent weeks with injuries to two key starters, full-back James McGarry (knee) and goalkeeper Oli Sail (hip flexor). Sail came off in the first half of Wellington’s 2-1 loss to Sydney on Sunday night, with 19-year-old Alex Paulsen making his A-League Men’s debut. Paulsen is expected to start again on Wednesday night. 

Between Wellington’s leaky defence, key injuries and fatigue from a busy schedule (they’ve played twice a week since the start of December), all the conditions are ripe for City’s attackers to hunt down the crucial goals that would see us through to the last four of the FFA Cup.