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All eyes on Original Rivalry Saturday night

Old foes resume hostilities when Adelaide United host Melbourne Victory in a blockbuster Saturday night contest.

The first iteration of the Original Rivalry for the Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 season is back with the excitement and general anticipation palpable.

The Reds come into the clash unbeaten following three straight draws to begin the campaign and incidentally have never ever recorded four straight stalemates in their 18-year history.

Victory’s resurgent start under Tony Popovic hit a speed bump after a 3-0 home defeat to Perth Glory albeit with 10 men.

Adelaide has enjoyed the upper hand in recent times, prevailing in seven of the last eight meetings – winning the last three – and have not suffered a home loss since January 2017 – a run of six straight games (5W,1D) unbeaten at Hindmarsh.

Interestingly, the previous draw in this fixture happened at Adelaide Oval in October 2017 which ended 2-2.

Team news

Javi López is out suspended following his sending off last week, while Isaías is pushing to be available for selection having dealt with a hip complaint which forced him off at half-time against Brisbane. Juande and George Blackwood are also available for selection.

What the experts say

Simon Hill: Adelaide have had a solid start, and have perhaps been unlucky not to get that first win as yet. Victory were ticking along very nicely until the wheels came off against Glory, with a recurrence of old failings from last season, at least in part.

Bruce Djite: Both teams received one red card during their last match, so will each be missing key players. Adelaide are yet to win a game this season, so I expect them to come out attacking aggressively. Melbourne Victory are coming off the back of a 3-0 loss, so will look to get a result and what initially looked like a promising start to the season back on track.

Tarek Elrich: Melbourne Victory under Poppa (Tony Popovic) have been good. Bit of a hiccup last week which means they’ll be dangerous. United with three draws are due a win. Have been great so far but need to find another gear. Tipping a draw.

One to watch

Simon Hill: Isaías. It’s really important for the Reds to win the midfield battle in this one. The veteran Spaniard will be key to setting the tempo.

Bruce Djite: Stefan Mauk.

Tarek Elrich: Kusini Yengi has had a great start to the season. Would like to see more of his silky football.

Key battle

Simon Hill: Marco Rojas v Josh Cavallo. Rojas seems back to his best – a big test for Josh to keep him quiet.

Bruce Djite: Isaías vs Brillante.

Tarek Elrich: Battle of the young number nines Kusini Yengi and Nick D’Agostino.

One change you’d like to see

Simon Hill: Is it time to give Craig Goodwin a start? I don’t know how match fit he is, but he has that X-Factor for the Reds.

Bruce Djite: Craig Goodwin to start.

Head-to-head

Played: 55
Wins: 19
Draws: 10
Losses: 26

Last five meetings

0-1 win (A)
1-3 win (A)
1-0 win (H)
2-1 loss (A)
1-0 win (H)

Predictions

Simon Hill: I think it will be another draw! Victory have a bit to prove after last week, but the Reds are at home – and the crowd at Hindmarsh always have a part to play, particularly against Victory.

Bruce Djite: I think the game will be another enthralling match. Adelaide United will start strongly and take an early lead. Melbourne Victory will work their way back into the game and equalise in the 2nd half, before Adelaide run over the top of them in the last 15 mins and scoring a late winner. 2-1 to Adelaide.

Tarek Elrich: 2-2. This is going to be the game of the round.

Match details:
Saturday, 11 December vs Melbourne Victory
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Round 4
Kick-off 7.15pm ACDT
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Broadcast: Network 10
Stream: Paramount+