The third and last final for Week 1 of the 2010/11 A-League series is on tomorrow on the Gold Coast.
The home side go in with questionable form after two disappointing losses and will need to turn their fortunes around if they are to progress to the next stage where Adelaide United await.
Striker Bruce Djite and the versatile Bas van den Brink return whilst Joel Porter is also a chance to be included in the squad, boosting Miron Bleiberg's attacking stocks.
In the Melbourne Victory camp, Ernie Merrick will have together almost his best side for the season with every player bar the suspended Kevin Muscat available for selection. Midfielders Grant Brebner and Billy Celeski are back in and Leigh Broxham and Ricardinho will also be on the periphery.
Last week in the 2-1 loss to Adelaide, Merrick had the luxury of bringing Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez off the bench, and although he did not get the desired result, those two made a noticeable difference when entered into the fray.
I just feel that the Victory's far superior finals experience will show out here and I am tipping them to book another playoffs encounter with arch rivals Adelaide.
Verdict: Victory 1-0
Gold Coast United v Melbourne VictoryDate: Sunday, 20 February 2011 Venue: Skilled Park, Robina Local kick-off: 4.30pm (5.30pm AEDT) Referee: Strebre Delovski Head-to-Head: All matches (played 6): Gold Coast United wins 2, Melbourne Victory wins 4 (0 draws) Match facts: - Now with exactly 100 Hyundai A-League goals between them, Gold Coast's Shane Smeltz (47 career goals) and Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson (53 career goals) may square up against each other for the first time since November 2009. Despite the prominence of both players in the Hyundai A-League to date, the league's top two all-time scorers have only come up against each other six times in the past, with Smeltz scoring in their first confrontation (for Wellington's in their 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory, August 2007 - Smeltz's first Hyundai A-League goal) while Thompson scored twice the last time they met, in the Victory's 4-0 win over Gold Coast on 28 November 2009.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FS2 HD & delayed on Sky Sports 3 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Gold Coast United squad: 1.Glen MOSS [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD, 32.Steven LUSTICA, 33.Peter PERCHTOLD *three to be omitted* In: Bruce DJITE (return from hamstring injury), Bas VAN DEN BRINK (return from ankle injury), Joel PORTER (return from calf injury), Ben HALLORAN (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: John CURTIS (shoulder injury - unknown), 10.Jason CULINA (knee injury - season), ROBSON (hamstring injury - 2 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Matthew KEMP, 8. Grant BREBNER, 9. RICARDINHO, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 18. Danny ALLSOPP, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Adrian LEIJER (c) *four to be omitted* In: Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury), Billy CELESKI (returns from injury), Grant BREBNER (returns from injury), RICARDINHO (promoted) Out: nil Unavailable: Kevin MUSCAT (suspension)