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ALM Match Preview: Melbourne Victory vs Western United

Western United A-League Men

Western United will face Melbourne Victory for the first time in the 2023/24 Isuzu UTE A-League Men season, looking to continue a winning streak against its crosstown rivals.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 12 (rescheduled)

Melbourne Victory vs Western United

Tuesday, 20 February

Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+

Western United Team News

Tomoki Imai will become just the second player in Western United history to reach 100 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances in Green and Black.

The Japanese star has been a stalwart at the back since the Club’s inaugural campaign and will become the first Asian player to reach the century mark.

Elsewhere in John Aloisi’s 20-player extended squad, left-back Ben Garuccio will hope to return from injury while Steven Lustica appears set to feature.

Western United Academy full-back Khoder Kaddour is named in an Isuzu UTE A-League extended squad for the first time and could become the 10th player to make his professional debut from the Club’s youth system.

Western United squad: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 4. James DONACHIE, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Ramy NAJJARINE, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 11. Daniel PENHA, 13. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 22. Kane VIDMAR, 29. Charbel SHAMOON, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 36. Zach LISOLAJSKI, 38. Noah BOTIC, 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 44. Jordan LAUTON

Full Western United squad

Last time out

Western United earned a richly deserved 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park last Friday night.

WATCH: The highlights from Western United’s impressive 2-0 victory over Newcastle Jets

Daniel Penha opened the scoring with a delightful Panenka penalty before Noah Botic added the second soon after half-time, while Tom Heward-Belle held onto a first clean sheet of the campaign in a man-of-the-match display.

Previous Meetings

Western United vs Melbourne Victory has brought just about everything over the course of 14 meetings in all competitions to date.

The Green and Black has relished the big games against Victory in the past, winning eight of those 14 matches including seven in the league and one in the Australia Cup in 2022.

United’s most famous win against Victory came in the semi-final second leg on the way to winning the Championship in 2022, the first of four straight triumphs over the Club’s rivals.

Key Matchup: Angus Thurgate vs Ryan Teague

Two of the best young midfielders in the Isuzu UTE A-League will go head-to-head on Tuesday night as United’s Angus Thurgate lines up against Victory’s Ryan Teague.

Thurgate has been outstanding since joining Western United in the off-season, starting every game in midfield and shining with his all-round attributes.

The 24-year-old has been key to United’s play in deep phases of possession and has also got involved going forward, looking to break lines with his passing prowess and ability to run in between opposition defensive lines.

Angus Thurgate has been a key part of Western United’s midfield

Thurgate also leads United in tackles won and ranks third amongst the team in interceptions, demonstrating his strength on the defensive side of the ball.

Teague has flourished with consistent opportunity under Tony Popovic, starting in 15 of his 16 appearances and looking increasingly comfortable in the middle of the pitch.

A very similar archetype of midfielder to Thurgate, Teague will be eager to continue proving himself as one of the brightest prospects in the country.

In a game where the midfield battle could prove crucial in deciding the eventual winner, Thurgate will be out to get the better of this particular duel and help United take the win.

Western United Player to Watch: Kane Vidmar

Signed as an exciting prospect from Adelaide, Kane Vidmar has relished a number of opportunities to impress for Western United this season.

The 19-year-old could be in line for his eighth appearance of the season with James Donachie missing due to suspension, and he will be eager to carry on his good form from previous outings.

Vidmar’s height, strength and ability to read the game have been evident defensively and he has also looked increasingly comfortable on the ball when helping United build the play out of the back.

Possibly coming up against Socceroos striker and the richly in-form Bruno Fornaroli, Vidmar will look to stand up to the test and will be one to watch for the Green and Black on Tuesday.

Words from John Aloisi

On how the squad has recovered with a short turnaround from Friday night

“Everyone has pulled up well. It helps when you get a win and you’re playing another game in Melbourne. It’s a big game – always against Melbourne Victory.

“I don’t expect the players to be feeling anything, they’re excited about playing another game.”

On whether this game could be seen as a motivator heading to the future

“We want to show what we’re capable of doing, even with the young players that we have in there. If we can get a positive result and a positive result, then not only for this season – then it builds for our future, because it shows we can match it against anyone.

“That’s what we’ll be trying to do. We believe we can get the win, there’s no doubt about that. We know that it’s not going to be an easy game, but these derbies are always interesting games.”