With just seven rounds remaining to the finals, the A-League faces a split round this week to alleviate the fixture overload for Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC as they kick off their group matches in the Asian Champions League midweek.
Sydney hosts Adelaide United in the opening match of the three A-League games scheduled this weekend.
Sydney FC v Adelaide United Friday 1 March, 7.50 pm Leichhardt Oval
Sydney will be looking to hold on to second place on the ladder which they took from Victory following their hard fought 1-0 win over Wellington last weekend thanks to striker Adam Le Fondre’s penalty. The Sky Blue’s forward’s battle with Reds defenders Michael Jakobsen and makeshift central defender Michael Marrone could prove a big factor in determining the match. The Reds, who are without a win in their last three matches face the top two teams in consecutive games, and could be hard pressed to hang on to fourth place with Melbourne City and Wellington close behind them.
Reds’ forward Apostolos Stamatelopoulos has been named in the provisional Adelaide squad ahead of the match. Sydney will have to make do without suspended skipper Alex Brosque. They’ll then front up again midweek for their opening ACL group match at home to South Korean team Ulsan.
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets Sat 2 March, 7.50 pm GMHBA stadium Geelong
Time could be running out for the Jets who, although unbeaten in their last four matches, failed to take full advantage of Phoenix’s loss last week, being held to a scoreless draw at home by the Adelaide United. The Jets will be desperate for points this week to further close the five point gap to the top six. But they’ll have to overcome a quality opponent in Melbourne Victory which has its own reasons for chasing a win, as it battles with Sydney FC for second spot on the table. If Jets striker Roy O’Donovan can break his duck against Victory, if the Jets defence can contain Victory import Ola Toivonen, then the Jets may be in with a chance against a Victory side which is also preparing for a midweek ACL group match against South Korean club Daegu FC.
Jets defender Johnny Koutroumbis returns to the Jets squad after recovering from a recent injury.
Melbourne City v Perth Glory Sunday 3 March, 5.00 pm AAMI Park
City have finally cut striker Bruno Fornaroli loose and there are reports he is Glory bound next season. Meanwhile, Fornaroli’s replacement Jamie MacLaren continues to find the back of the net scoring in each of his three matches. City will need him to fire against when it hosts Perth Glory if it to have any chance of ending its five match winless streak and ending Glory’s 11 match undefeated streak. Glory is yet to lose away from home this season and another good Glory result could leave City teetering dangerously close to the edge of the top six. City will have to keep a close watch on Chris Ikonomidis who continues to trouble opposition defences, scoring his 8th goal in the 1-1 draw against his former club Western Sydney Wanderers last week.
For City, youngster Dylan Pierias has been named in the provisional squad.
The two remaining round 21 matches are Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners v Phoenix, both scheduled for next weekend.