Preview: Another false dawn or the beginning of a City resurgence?
After sweeping aside rivals Melbourne Victory, our lads travel across the ditch to face Wellington Phoenix.
The City boys put in a collectively outstanding performance last week, with the respective work ethic and quality of Florin Berenguer, Adrian Luna and Rostyn Griffiths particularly impressive.
Coach Erick Mombaerts was full of praise for the team as well, highlighting how strong we were defensively given our typically offensive style of play. The manager also heaped praise on the players for responding after the disappointing defeat away in Adelaide. The resilience of our team must be commended, as it has been lacking in previous seasons.
While Erick is a coach who typically keeps his praise focused on the team as a whole, he couldn’t help but highlight the performances of two players in particular after the game, with those standouts being Florin Berenguer and Adrian Luna.
Fantastic attitude and a willingness to work hard are the two traits that have put Berenguer in the manager’s good books at present, whilst Mombaerts describes Luna as a fantastic player who we undoubtedly missed whilst he was sidelined by a minor knee injury.
There likely won’t be much in the way of changes to the starting line-up for Saturday, though star striker Jamie Maclaren limped off with a hamstring twinge during last Friday’s win. It is unclear at this point how serious that is, but it is fair to say that a slight injury cloud does hang over Maclaren’s head going into this one.
Goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis will likely sit out Saturday’s trip to New Zealand unfortunately, with Mombaerts explaining his absence as relating to 'personal problems' which kept him out of the squad on Friday. Whilst a timeline on his return is unclear at this point, there has been no news to suggest Dean will return in time for Saturday. For Dean’s sake, we all pray that he is in a healthy state of mind and that he is currently focusing on doing what makes him happy, which at the end of the day, matters more than football. He's a long-serving clubman who played a part in securing our only piece of silverware, so he's still very much loved here at Talking City.
This weekend's opposition, Wellington Phoenix, are coming off the back of a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Perth Glory. Regular right-back Tim Payne will miss through suspension, while our defense will have to be on its game to keep out Reno Piscopo, Gary Hooper and Ulises Davila, who represent Wellington’s biggest threats in attack.
Whilst the usual defensive solidity, high pressing and attacking potency will undoubtedly be needed to secure the three points against the Nix, a genuine mental barrier may represent the real challenge to the boys; back to back wins have eluded our team since rounds four and five this season.
All being said, with Perth hot on our tail and Wellington capable of drawing within an inch of second place if they were to win, anything less than a win sets us a LONG way back... but we're not confident of getting the required result...
Final Score Prediction: Wellington Phoenix 2-2 Melbourne City