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Jan 30, 2020   |  5:46AM AET

Match Preview – Popa relishing challenge posed by Victory’s ‘fantastic front third’

Match Preview – Popa relishing challenge posed by Victory’s ‘fantastic front third’

Tony Popovic has declared that Glory will have to blunt one of the Hyundai A-League’s highest-quality forward lines if the club is to set a new clean sheets record.

https://players.brightcove.net/5498268486001/default_default/index.html?videoId=6128112709001

The men in purple are seeking a league-best fifth successive lockout in Saturday’s home clash with Melbourne Victory (kick-off at 6.45pm, tickets available HERE) and in doing so, extend the club’s unbeaten run to eight games.

But despite their lowly ladder position and poor recent form, Popovic feels that Victory’s star-studded attack has the potential to ask plenty of questions of Glory’s defence.

“As a team, we have really improved defensively,” he said.

“We’ve improved in every aspect of our game, but that’s obviously highlighted now with four consecutive clean sheets.

“It’s a good challenge this week to try and make it five against what, when you look at it on paper, is a fantastic front third that they [Melbourne Victory] have.

“We’re playing against another big club. We’ve played two of the biggest clubs in the country in Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City and come away with four very good points from two tough away games and now we play another big club in Melbourne Victory.

“They are expected to be at the top at all times and when you look at their roster, you can see why.”

Popovic went on to praise the navy-and-whites for their midweek exploits in which they earned an impressive 1-0 away win over Japanese giants Kashima Antlers to secure a place in the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

“They’ve had a tough week,” he said, “but it was an exciting week which was also exciting for the A-League and Australian football as we now have three teams in the Champions League.

“So we congratulate Victory on that and we know it’ll be a tough test against them.

“It [the win over Kashima] shows the quality they have. They’ve had some changes, with the coaching change, but on paper they are still very strong, especially in that front third.”

In terms of early team news, Glory’s Head Coach confirmed that Juande (groin) and Osama Malik (hamstring) will again miss out,  but that Chris Ikonomidis (knee) is in contention to return to the squad, Nick D’Agostino is available once again following his exploits with the Olyroos and new signing Tarek Elrich may also feature.

One notable absentee for Victory, meanwhile, is their record-appearances holder Leigh Broxham who is suspended after seeing red against Sydney FC last weekend.

Match Details

Saturday 1 February 2020

Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory

HBF Park, Perth

Kick-Off: 6:45pm (Local) (9:45pm (AEDT))

Referee: Stephen Lucas

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Mannella

Assistant Referee 2: Arvin Shanmuganathan

Fourth Official: Adam Fielding

VAR: Kris Griffiths-Jones

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #PERvMVC

Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Jacob TRATT, 4.Gregory WUTHRICH, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.James MEREDITH, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 12.Kim SOO-BEOM, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO (c), 18.Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20.Jake BRIMMER, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Vince LIA, 28.Gabriel POPOVIC, 29.Kristian POPOVIC, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS (returns from injury), 18.Nicholas D’AGOSTINO (returns from international duty),  21.Tarek ELRICH (new signing)

Outs: 23.Dane INGHAM (omitted)

Unavailable: 6.Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 13.Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1 week), 27.JUANDE (groin – 1 week)

Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Storm ROUX, 4.James DONACHIE, 5.Tim HOOGLAND, 7.Kenny ATHIU, 8.Jakob POULSEN, 9.Andrew NABBOUT, 10.Robbie KRUSE, 11.Ola TOIVONEN, 16.Josh HOPE, 17.Elvis KAMSOBA, 18.Migjen BASHA, 19.Ben CARRIGAN, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Adama TRAORE, 23. Marco ROJAS, 24.Anthony LESIOTIS, 25.Brandon LAUTON, 26.Jay BARNETT, 50.Brendan WHITE (gk)

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins:  23. Marco ROJAS (promoted) 4.James DONACHIE (return from suspension), 5.Tim HOOGLAND (return from injury)

Outs: 6.Leigh BROXHAM (suspended)

Unavailable: 1.Matt ACTON (shoulder), 14.Thomas DENG (released)

#OneGlory