ALM Match Preview: Staj targets defensive improvement against high-flying Victory

Glory Head Coach Alen Stajcic is looking for a more resolute defensive performance from his side in Saturday evening’s eagerly-anticipated Isuzu UTE A-League showdown with high-flying Melbourne Victory at HBF Park (kick-off at 6.45pm WST, tickets available HERE).

View his full pre-match media conference HERE.

The men in purple have had no problem finding the net in recent weeks, but have conceded the third-highest amount of goals in the competition this season.

Against the league’s joint-highest scorers, the Head Coach knows that the back door needs to be slammed more firmly if Glory are to chalk up a third home win in five games.

“I think in the last two-and-a-half games, we’ve been much better on the ball,” he said.

“We’ve gone from averaging around 30{e0eacfde3737b7a6d6d38e6c2fa2b27ad4b47af816b194a8894ca596baf1880e} possession to 50-55{e0eacfde3737b7a6d6d38e6c2fa2b27ad4b47af816b194a8894ca596baf1880e}, have created lots of chances and scored seven goals in the last two-and-a-half games.

“We really should be winning with that amount of goals, so it’s not that part of the game that I’m worried about.

“It’s more our defensive shape and in transition.

“We can’t be conceding eight goals and the amount of chances we did, especially last week against the Mariners.

“If we do that against this team [Victory] we’ll just give up the game, so it’s certainly an area of the game that we have to fix up and tidy up.”

Stajcic will be unable to call upon the defensive services of Mark Beevers and Aleks Susnjar after both were sent off last weekend, but he had better news to impart regarding on-loan duo Oliver Bozanic and Jarrod Carluccio.

“It’s tough losing two of our back four who have been there all year,” he said, “so we’re going to have to adapt and it’s an opportunity for other people.

“We’ll see how we realign and readjust that and at the moment we’re still working through who that’s going to be.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to keep both [Bozanic and Carluccio] until the end of the year.

“That’s not 100{e0eacfde3737b7a6d6d38e6c2fa2b27ad4b47af816b194a8894ca596baf1880e} at the moment, but I’d say it’s 90-95{e0eacfde3737b7a6d6d38e6c2fa2b27ad4b47af816b194a8894ca596baf1880e} that we’ll have them until the end of the year.”

Returning to Saturday’s Round 11 fixture, the Head Coach is expecting a tough test against Tony Popovic’s men who remain unbeaten this term.

“They’ve looked good,” he said.

“We obviously played them in the pre-season down in Bunbury and at Dorrien Gardens, so we knew even at that point they were going to be a strong team.

“When you look at their bench, they’ve probably got more depth than most other teams in the league.

“Last week they brought on [Ben] Folami, [Chris] Ikonomidis and [Jake] Brimmer… so they have depth that probably a lot of other teams don’t have at their disposal.

“They definitely deserve to be at the top the way they’ve played this season.

“They’ve played good attacking football all year and even in that draw that they had against Wellington [in Round 4], I think they had 19 shots to 1 and ended up with a draw off an own-goal.

“So they’ve been a touch unlucky not to be further ahead in the league table.”

Only APL’s curious prioritisation of wins over goal-difference is currently keeping this weekend’s visitors off top spot and after a run of four consecutive draws through November and early December, they have secured three wins from their last four outings, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

Popovic will be unable to call upon leading scoring and former Glory man Bruno Fornaroli who is away on Socceroos duty at the Asian Cup, but new French recruit Zinedine Machach is available and will be looking to add to his impressive haul of three goals and three assists.

Other notable players for the visitors include gifted attacking midfielder Daniel Arzani, ex-Glory trio Brimmer, Ikonomidis and Jason Geria and rising star Eli Adams who caught the eye during the pre-season clash between Victory and Glory in Bunbury.

Historically, Glory have enjoyed much the better of this fixture, winning 14 of the previous 25 meetings here in the West, including last season’s corresponding clash at Macedonia Park.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League 2023/24 Season Round 11

Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory

HBF Park

Saturday 6 January 2024

Kick-off: 6:45pm WST

Perth Glory squad: 1.Oli SAIL (gk), 2.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 3.Jacob MUIR, 7.Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 8.Mustafa AMINI, 9.David WILLIAMS, 10.Salim KHELIFI, 12.Luke IVANOVIC, 13.Cameron COOK (gk), 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 19.Trent OSTLER, 20.Giordano COLLI, 22.Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23.Daniel BENNIE, 24.Oliver BOZANIC, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 28.Kaelan MAJEKODUNMI, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 34.Andriano LEBIB, 77.Bruce KAMAU

Two to be omitted

Ins: 23.Daniel BENNIE, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 28.Kaelan MAJEKODUNMI, 34.Andriano LEBIB

Outs: 5.Mark BEEVERS (co-c), 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR

Unavailable: 5.Mark BEEVERS (co-c) (suspended), 11.Adam ZIMARINO (injured), 14.Riley WARLAND (injured) 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR (suspended), 21.Antonis MARTIS (injured)

Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Rai MARCHAN, 5.Damien DA SILVA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 8.Zinedine MACHACH, 11.Ben FOLAMI, 14.Connor CHAPMAN, 16.Stefan NIGRO, 17.Nishan VELUPILLAY, 18.Fabian MONGE, 19.Daniel ARZANI, 20.Paul IZZO, 21.Roderick MIRANDA, 22.Jake BRIMMER, 24.Eli ADAMS, 25.Ryan TEAGUE, 27.Jordi VALADON, 40.Christian SICILIANO

Ins: 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Rai MARCHAN, 27.Jordi VALADON

Outs: 10.Bruno FORNAROLI