Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory meet in Round 2 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Coopers Stadium on Friday at 7:30pm (AEDT).
Played: 30, Wins: Victory 15, Adelaide 10, Draws: 5
Adelaide 1-0 Victory, February 8 2013
Past five matches:
These two long-time rivals come into the clash in different form, with hosts Adelaide sitting top of the table after a 3-1 win over the Perth Glory. The Victory struggled to break down city rivals the Melbourne Heart in their dull derby, which finished 0-0. The rivalry between the Victory and the Reds always produces passionate and fiery affairs and expect no different on Friday night. Ange Postecoglou, who has been touted as the favourite to take on the vacant Australia job, will want his team on the winners' list, while Josep Gombau may have tactical surprises of his own after his team were reduced to nine men in their win over the Glory.
The big issue:
Victory – the toothless attack that struggled to create chances against the Heart will be put to the test. Yet, in the Victory's favour is that Adelaide are unlikely to sit deep like John Aloisi's men did. That should see Postecoglou's side find more space in behind – something the Heart desperately stopped them from doing – with the Reds likely to press high. It should help the likes of Connor Pain and Archie Thompson get into the game more and the return of captain Mark Milligan improves their chances.
Adelaide – replacing suspended duo Nigel Boogaard and Isaias will be top of the list for Gombau. Boogaard, sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a desperate lunge, is likely to be replaced by Osama Malik. Gombau has options in defensive midfield but is probably going to need to reshuffle his attacking third to find a partner for Steven Lustica. Adelaide have depth in their squad and beat the Victory in a pre-season friendly earlier this month.
The game breaker:
Jeronimo Neumann – the Argentine made a dream start to the campaign with a brace in his side's win over Perth. They were two poached efforts by the forward but just what Adelaide needed as his positioning set him up for the two strikes. If the 27-year-old continues to put himself in dangerous areas, he is sure to get on the end of a few more chances from what is a talented Reds attack.
Prediction: Adelaide 2-2 Victory
Expect a few goals in front of what is likely to be a sell-out crowd at Coopers Stadium. Just who can take their chances will be decisive, especially for a Victory side who will be hungry for goals after being held out by the Heart in round one. The likely return of Milligan from a knee injury only boosts the chances of Postecoglou's men. The tactical battle between Postecoglou and Gombau will also be one to watch and it is hard to separate the two rivals in what could be the Victory coach's last game in charge of his side.