What to watch for: Hume v City

Melbourne City FC will be looking ahead to its FFA Cup Round of 16 tie against Hume City as an opportunity to get back to winning ways following a draw on the road against Adelaide United on Saturday night.

City will be hoping to replicate the professional performance it displayed against South Melbourne in the Round of 32 when it takes on Hume, who will be confident of their chances of causing a ‘Cupset’ against the Australian top-flight Champions.

Here’s what you should be watching for when the two sides meet in Wednesday’s knockout clash:

Kisnorbo to explore squad rotation amidst a busy schedule

With games coming thick and fast for his side, it’s likely that Patrick Kisnorbo will seek to balance match minutes with performances when he names his lineup to face Hume on Wednesday night.

The fixture is City’s second in what will be a four-game, 12-day period and represents a prime opportunity for squad rotation as players compete for opportunities in the starting lineup.

The likes of Nathaniel Atkinson, for instance, could be a prime candidate for a start in the fixture, having not featured in a first XI since City’s Round of 32 win over South Melbourne earlier in November.

Countless others should count themselves in contention too, with Kisnorbo likely to trust the depth and shared winning mentality of the entire squad at his disposal.

A potential City debut for Manuel Pucciarelli

In line with the theme of potential rotation, Wednesday’s fixture looms as an ideal opportunity for City’s new signing Manuel Pucciarelli to make his debut for the club.

The versatile Italian has been building up his match fitness since arriving in Melbourne and coming out of quarantine. He took part in friendlies over the past two weekends, starting both games.

Now more up to speed and accustomed to the type of City style of play, an impending club debut could be on the cards for Pucciarelli on Wednesday night and the Italian will hope that he can contribute to City’s progression in the competition.

Hume’s dangerman up top

As with many top NPL outfits around the country, Hume City boasts several players with A-Leagues experience and it’s been one of this contingent, former Mariner Josh Bingham, who’s done the damage in front of goal for his side in 2021.

Bingham finished second in the NPL 1 Victoria golden boot race with 13 goals, with Soccerway also crediting him with four assists.

It will be interesting to see how Bingham fares on Wednesday night, however, due to the recent departures of fellow strike partners Andy Brennan and Danny Dixon over the NPL off-season, the former having signed with South Melbourne only a handful of days ago.

Similarly, Hume’s Argentine surprise-packet Nahuel Bonada, who scored 12 goals with Dandenong Thunder in the 2021 season before joining Hume as a train-on prior to their Cup fixtures, will miss the Melbourne City clash following his red card against Port Melbourne in the Round of 32.

Ensuring a professional 90-minute performance

While City closed out their Round of 32 victory strongly, scoring two goals in the final third of the match and securing a clean sheet, the same hasn’t been the case in the opening two rounds of the Izuzu UTE A-League.

This season, all three of City’s goals conceded have arrived in the final third of the game, with the team yet to score in the same period.

Whether that’s a product of a lack of early-season fitness or lapses in concentration as the safety of a positive result draws closer, Kisnorbo and the entire City squad will be looking to rectify the issue with a professional, 90-minute performance against Hume on Wednesday.