Two Melburnians take a bus into Western Sydney


Sit tight, because the punchline is still to be written. Or perhaps that thread will evolve into more of a long-form drama, where the humour is dark and understated.

Whether comical or emotional, you can be sure the consecutive appearances of two Victorians – City and Victory– will form part of a greater narrative.
With only weeks remaining after Wednesday’s visit of Melbourne City, performances and results in Parramatta will further reveal the true identity of the shapeshifting beast that is the end of-season Hyundai A-League ladder.
The dual tests for Tony Popovic’s side will be similar in name only.
Wednesday’s opponent, John van’t Schip’s City, are searching for a first finals appearance. An underwhelming start to the season and inconsistency thereafter have plagued their efforts to make sixth position safe.
Since turning the corner with a 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar back in early December, City have struggled to string together consistent victories – a trend they will be keen to buck on a first visit to Wanderland.
Experienced campaigners, irrespective of the date they joined, continue to be the preferred guardians of the club’s destiny. Robert Koren is enjoying an extended run of appearances not initially afforded due to injury, while fellow marquee man Josh Kennedy is entrenched as the leader of the attack. Further back, 36-year-old Kew Jaliens has been recruited to join Patrick Kisnorbo in defence and help eradicate the kind of rookie errors a side without any finals history might be inclined to commit.
Kevin Muscat’s men seem certain for a top two finish, even if others are also worthy. Carl Valeri and Mark Milligan will be expected to guide them to a home semi-final, and possess the abilities to see the job through. Valeri’s volley here in January is not a memory easily erased.
For Victory, losses throughout the season have proved to be only blemishes; not indicative of pending doom.
There is – mercifully from all but their perspective – still time for all that to change. Friday’s fixture will play a mighty role in deciding whether Victory are knocked off course. But Popovic v Muscat can be kept in preservatives for another 48 hours.
For now the narrative centres only on Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City. Neither will be interested in being the brunt of any possible joke.
Drama it is, then.


Melbourne City: 7:30pm Wednesday 11 March, Pirtek Stadium
Melbourne Victory: 7:30pm Friday 13 March, Pirtek Stadium