Melbourne City FC will be in competitive action for the first time of season 2022/23 on Tuesday night, set to face Newcastle Olympic FC in the Australia Cup Round of 32.
An away fixture due to Australia Cup regulations, Tuesday’s clash will kick-off at 7:30pm and will be streamed live and free on 10play.
We analyse all the big talking points ahead of City’s upcoming return to competitive football!
Will the rust remain?
Fans got their first glimpse at City’s 2022/23 Men’s outfit last Tuesday night when the Patrick Kisnorbo coached side took on NPL1 opposition, Dandenong Thunder.
You’ll struggle to find a better way to describe the contest than ‘a game of two halves’.
The first 45 minutes saw all of the attacking action with five goals scored, while the scoreline didn’t change at all in the second stanza.
Max Caputo, Jordan Bos and Florin Berenguer were on target for City, while the two goals conceded looked very much to be the signs of early pre-season rustiness.
In general, City looked composed in possession throughout the encounter, but a couple of key defensive lapses saw it unable to maintain a clean sheet.
Now with another week of pre-season training under his players’ belts, Kisnorbo will be hoping to see a more consistent 90 minute performance against Olympic.
A first look at some new faces?
One possibly disappointing factor of last Tuesday’s friendly was the absence of new signings Richard van der Venne and Callum Talbot from the matchday squad.
The duo continue to impress on the training pitch and look set to come under consideration by Kisnorbo and his staff for minutes in this weeks Cup tie.
Talbot can be deployed on either side of City’s defence, bringing added versatility to the squad, while when selected, van der Venne is set to provide a powerful option in midfield, capable of driving forward and not scared to shoot from distance.
Now after having an extra week to familiarise themselves with their teammates and new style of play, could we be set to see one or both of the duo in City colours for the first time?
Who plays? Who stays?
A number of City stars, particularly Jamie Maclaren and Mathew Leckie, have only recently returned to training following a well-deserved break, so all eyes will be on the City starting XI at around 6:30pm on Tuesday.
The back four would appear to pick itself, with Scott Galloway, Nuno Reis, Curtis Good and Scott Jamieson a good chance to maintain their starting spots from the friendly.
Further up the pitch is where the big decisions are set to come, particularly in the final third – where Maclaren, Leckie and Nabbout all were unsighted last week.
Kisnorbo may opt to let his star attackers continue to build up their training loads throughout the early stages of pre-season, opening the door for some younger members of the squad.
Caputo didn’t put a foot wrong in Tuesday’s friendly and given his strong NPL form this season (nine goals in 13 appearances), he’d appear set to lead the line should Maclaren remain in Melbourne.
Marco Tilio and Jordan Bos were deployed on either side of Caputo last week, and given they looked two of the most dangerous players out there in their limited minutes, you’d expect to see them heavily involved again this Tuesday.
Opportunities a plenty for youth to make their mark
While most of the names you’ll see on Tuesday night have only recently returned to training, a number of City’s NPL contingent could be set to see meaningful minutes too.
City has enjoyed a memorable season in NPL3, already securing promotion to NPL2 for next season and deep in the Championship race with just two fixtures remaining.
One of the key names who’s stood out week in, week out has been young midfielder Emin Durakovic. Still just 16-years-old, Durakovic has shown an understanding of the game beyond his years and is one of the brightest young talents in City’s Academy set-up.
The likes of Jordi Valadon, Arion Sulemani and Luke Oresti all too saw big minutes last Tuesday, so expect them all to be in the mix for selection once again when City travels to Newcastle.
Australia Cup: Round of 32
Newcastle Olympic FC v Melbourne City FC
Newcastle No.2 Sportsground
Tuesday 2 August, 7:30pm kick-off
Live and free on 10play