What to watch for: Wellington v City

Melbourne City are only days away from kicking off its 2022/23 A-League Women’s season and there is plenty to look forward to for our City Women in the new campaign.

A first ever trip across the ditch to take on Wellington will begin our season, and there will be lots to keep an eye out for come Sunday!

Who will start in goal?

A key talking point ahead of the new 2022/23  will be the battle for the no.1 spot between the experienced and ultra-reliable Melissa Barbieri and young gun Sally James.

Both players boast an immense amount of talent and have plenty to offer the squad across the season, but it’s yet to be seen which player will get the nod come Sunday’s clash.

James was highly touted to take on the role as starting goalkeeper last season before a finger injury kept her sidelined, and with Barbieri’s strong form in goal, James was unable to force her way into the starting spot.

While injuries have impacted the 20-year old’s ability to get consistent minutes out on the pitch, her undeniable talent has seen her be involved with the Young Matildas program since 2020 and most recently at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, Barbieri has been a mainstay at City for several seasons, acting as a key member of the locker room regardless of whether or not she’s on the pitch.

Head Coach Rado Vidosic said the club was in a fortunate position to have two players of such quality pushing each other for the starting spot.

“Melissa has got fantastic experience and she did a great job for us last year, so we’ll see how they go this week and then it’s up to us as a coaching group to decide who’s going to start the season,” Visovic said earlier in the week.

“It doesn’t mean that whoever starts the season will finish the season,” he said, ‘We’ll go week by week as both of them are extremely good goalkeepers and we are really happy to have them here.”

Keeping a perfect record against the ‘Nix

There isn’t much to go off given in terms of head-to-head record given the two teams only met once last season – Wellington’s inaugural campaign – but that day was still a memorable one for City.

A blistering 15-minute period before the break saw City virtually kill the game off before half time, taking a 3-0 lead in the process.

Kaitlyn Torpey, Hannah Wilkinson and the now departed Winonah Heatley were on the scoresheet in that period, before a 78th minute goal to skipper Emma Checker sealed a dominant performance.

Wellington are set to welcome a large home crowd for their first match at Sky Stadium, so City will be made to fight hard to take the three points back to Melbourne.

Young talent ready to make their mark

City will have the perfect blend of experience and youth across their squad for the 2022/23 season, with a number of talented youngsters pushing for spots in the starting XI.

With the likes of Daniela Galic, Caitlin Karic and Sally James all currently coming through the ranks at Melbourne City, Vidosic will have to make some hard decisions on who misses out on gameday.

City will be without New Zealand international Hannah Wilkinson in attack as well as Matildas defender Karly Roestbakken for Sunday’s season opener, so there will be opportunites for the younger brigade to make their mark straight away.

Vidosic said he was excited by the prospect of having some of the next generation of superstars developing and learning under the City system.

“With young players, you never know what they can deliver and whether they have fear or not, so they may just surprise everyone,” he said.

“As a coach you’re hoping to teach them to have no fear but instead go out, have fun, enjoy themselves and put on a show,” he said.