Melbourne City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis claims the ball next to Melbourne Victory striker Andrew Nabbout. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis claims the ball next to Melbourne Victory striker Andrew Nabbout. Picture: AAP

Plenty of intrigue despite Victory-City stalemate

TRADITIONAL round one fixture, familiar faces but signs of respective new eras at Melbourne's rival A-League clubs.

Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City fought out a scoreless draw bereft of highlights, but filled with intrigue and optimism for both clubs.

The biggest talking point perhaps came in the dying seconds, when City defender Harrison Delbridge sent Ola Toivonen on his backside after they clashed on a set piece.

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Victory attacker Elvis Kamsoba scored just after half-time, only to be overturned by VAR, leaving most of the 33,523 Marvel Stadium fans disappointed.

VICTORY IN PROGRESS

The late arrival of most of Victory's visa signings clearly affected their rhythm.

Despite the world's longest pre-season both teams suffered 11th hour injuries, with Victory losing German stopper Tim Hoogland on Friday to a calf issue.

Dane Jakob Poulsen was the pick of Victory's new signings, controlling midfield well alongside Leigh Broxham - who slotted in for Albanian substitute Migjen Basha - while Austrian Kristijan Dobras worked hard in support of the front three.

Melbourne Victory striker Andrew Nabbout takes on Melbourne City defender Scott Jamieson on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images
Melbourne Victory striker Andrew Nabbout takes on Melbourne City defender Scott Jamieson on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images

Andrew Nabbout was fit and lively down the right wing and enjoyed an entertaining duel with chirpy Scott Jamieson.

The Socceroo found himself in dangerous positions on the edge of the area several times, but the lack of game-time affected his decision-making.

CITY GO LATINO (AGAIN)

City successfully ventured down the Latino path several years ago with Uruguayan Bruno Fornaroli and Argentines Fernando Brandan and Nicolas Colazo helping the club to a maiden trophy, the 2016 FFA Cup.

It was not surprising that the South Americans all departed during Warren Joyce's tenure, for their views were diametrically opposed to the coach's.

But 2019-20 has marked the return of the Latinos, with Uruguayans Javier Cabrera and Adrian Luna arriving in Bundoora.

Melbourne City’s Joshua Brillante fouls Melbourne Victory’s Thomas Deng. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City’s Joshua Brillante fouls Melbourne Victory’s Thomas Deng. Picture: AAP
Both played bit-part roles in pre-season, but their class, poise and comfort receiving the ball in tight spaces was a feature.

Luna was a late inclusion for Frenchman Florin Berenguer, who strained his hamstring at training on Thursday.

English winger Craig Noone didn't have the impact of pre-season (four goals in four FFA Cup games), though he showed glimpses of his class and was often double-teamed.

The other signing, Austrian Richard Windbichler, may have to wait patiently with stoppers Curtis Good and Delbridge making a formidable duo.

Delbridge in particular shone, with his positioning and impeccably times tackles a feature.

Melbourne City’s Javier Cabrera. Picture: Michael Klein.
Melbourne City’s Javier Cabrera. Picture: Michael Klein.

FASHION AND FOOTBALL

The focus on recruiting technical players is no coincidence for City, and it reflected in far more watchable football.

After two years of not uttering a word about style, instead focusing on "culture" and "graft", the club is back talking all about "style".

Frenchman Erick Mombaerts has spoken ad nuseum about playing "the City Football Group way" - meaning an attacking, possession-based brand.

He also offered a flambuoyant outfit, donning a suit with a baseball cap and dark shades.

In contrast, Marco Kurz stuck to his trusted Adelaide United get-up, becoming the first Victory coach since Ernie Merrick to don a tracksuit.

Tempers threatened to boil over near the end. Picture: AAP
Tempers threatened to boil over near the end. Picture: AAP

VAR AND SPARSE CHANCES

The first half was a chess game, albeit featuring rusty competitors.

The second stanza lifted a notch, as City had positive moments.

Victory however was the only team to find the net - only for the goal to be overruled.

Toivonen slipped in a superb ball for winger Kamsoba, whose finished was matched by his triple-somersault celebration.

Moments later referee Chris Beath and the VAR drew the ire of Victory fans, signaling for offside.

Lachy Wales, deputising for Socceroo Jamie Maclaren, had City's best chance but sprayed it wide.

The draw was a fair result.

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News Corp Australia

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