Victory hope to strike hammer blow to City in ALM derby

Anna Harrington |

Melbourne City and Victory players expect another fiery derby with ALM finals around the corner.
Melbourne City and Victory players expect another fiery derby with ALM finals around the corner.

With Melbourne City’s season hanging in the balance, Melbourne Victory hope they can deliver a derby defeat that strikes a hammer blow to their rival’s A-League Men finals hopes.

City sit four points behind sixth-placed Western Sydney, who play Brisbane on Friday night, ahead of Saturday night’s clash with the third-placed Victory at AAMI Park.

“Primarily, three points is the first gift and the most important one,” Victory coach Tony Popovic said.

“If that (hurting City’s finals hopes) gives our fans some extra joy, if there’s a way we can do that, we’ll certainly do our utmost to achieve that.

“But three points, beating your rival is what’s on our mind.”

The high stakes should make an already-fiery contest go to another level.

Playmaker Zinedine Machach, who started his career in France’s Ligue 1, relishes a fiery derby.

“When I played in Marseille we have big rivalry against Paris Saint-Germain and also a big rivalry against Lyon,” he said.

“And I remember one game against Lyon – the stadium of Marseille is like 67,000 people and it’s full. Great game.

“(It’s) intense – you feel like the fans are behind you. I like this. I play football for this moment.”

Zinedine Machach and Tony Popovic.
Zinedine Machach celebrates with Victory coach Tony Popovic after scoring in Brisbane. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

City’s Croatian winger Marin Jakolis was in the middle of the fireworks in the most recent derby and also doesn’t plan on holding back.

“It’s part of the derby,” he said.

“Where I come from in Croatia it’s normal. The emotions are high.

“Every (person) who watches football is understanding how much emotion you put into that game.

“Obviously derby day, you want to win it like every other game, but it’s special for the fans, for the club, for everything.”

Machach, who recently re-signed for another two seasons, wants to help keep Victory (38 points) in touch with Wellington (46) and Central Coast (43).

“I hope tomorrow I score or I give the assist to the my teammates, and we take the win,” he said.

“The most important (thing) is to win – it doesn’t matter who scores.

“We play our last four games here at home. It’s a big advantage especially with our fans, because we have a lot of fans.

“We must do the job and we four games and we must take every point.”

City know they need to get a move on goals-wise.

“We have to be ruthless. We need to start to score those goals. And I think that we are aware of that,” Jakolis said.

Sharpshooter Jamie Maclaren has been benched for young gun Max Caputo in recent games but Jakolis praised the captain’s attitude as City attempt to turn their season in their favour.

“Whatever’s happening off and on the pitch, he’s there. He’s giving help to everybody,” Jakolis said.

“We are in that moment that we all sacrifice ourselves for the team and Jamie has the biggest role in that and I think that he’s delivering it very well.”

City coach Aurelio Vidmar is touch-and-go to return to the technical area from illness.