Date: Friday February 8, 2013
Kick-off:7pm local, 7.30pm AEST
Played: 29 Wins: Adelaide United 9, Melbourne Victory 15, Draws: 5
Adelaide United 4 Melbourne Victory 2, December 7 2012
Past five matches:
Adelaide United: LLLWD
Melbourne Victory: WWWDW
Both sides could not head into this match in more different form. The hosts, Adelaide, are in freefall having won just two of their past eight matches. That is a run that has seen them drop to fourth on the A-League table and when John Kosmina walked out on the club as head coach due to internal issues, it capped off a pretty miserable few weeks for the club. Interim coach Michael Valkanis is a former player and will demand respect but a 4-2 home defeat against Western Sydney last week was not the ideal start to his reign.
On the other hand, Victory are absolutely flying and have won six of their past eight. Coach Ange Postecoglou implemented a series of changes in the off-season, while his tinkering with the squad has not stopped during the campaign. But crucially, the league's biggest club appear to have clicked and their recent form is testament to that. With Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson scoring for fun, Victory have climbed to second on the table and they are now just three points behind the Central Coast Mariners.
This fixture is always a great leveller though, and the form book can often be thrown out when the two sides meet. United fans normally pack Hindmarsh Stadium for the contest and create a good atmosphere which the home players thrive on. And after enduring a terrible record against Victory in the early stages of the Hyundai A-League – which included two grand final defeats, one to the tune of 6-0 – Adelaide have actually had the wood over their rivals in recent years.
Victory have won just one of the past seven encounters, with Adelaide triumphing on four occasions. Crucially, the last three Hindmarsh Stadium fixtures have been United wins.
The big issue
How will Adelaide stop Rojas and Thompson? Victory are the league's leading scorers this term with 33 goals. Rojas and Thompson have scored 19 of them.
While the pace of the duo – regularly used to run onto the ball in dangerous positions – has been a key component in the club's success, so has Victory's canny midfield play in allowing both players to receive the ball in important areas.
Adelaide have conceded 11 goals in their past four matches and if they are sloppy at the back, they will be made to pay. While the midfield have the important role of keeping the ball and not conceding possession, the defensive quartet of Jon McKain, Nigel Boogaard, Antony Golec and Cassio simply must be on their game.
While Rojas and Thompson hold the key for Victory, if Adelaide United are to win then it will be most likely thanks to another good performance from Dario Vidosic.
The former Nuremberg midfielder is the perfect link between midfield and attack and is a clever footballer with a fantastic array of skills and an eye for goal. After initially impressing last season for Adelaide, the 25-year-old has really hit his straps this season and he has bagged eight goals in 17 appearances for the Reds.
If he is on his game and Argentine Marcelo Carrusca also comes to play, the Victory defence will have their hands full. Postecoglou is still not over the moon with his team's defensive play and although the team's prowess going forward has deflected the attention, they have conceded 29 goals in 19 matches this season. Only three teams have shipped more in the current campaign.
Prediction: Adelaide United 2-2 Melbourne Victory
Victory may be the form team but that seems to matter little when these two rivals go head to head. Postecoglou's men have the quality to be much too strong for the Reds, but Adelaide will be eager to get their campaign back on track and there could be no better way than a big win over Victory. The Reds scored four times inside 32 minutes when the sides last met in December last year and while Victory will want to avenge for that defeat, expect an entertaining and high-scoring draw.