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We’ve reached the first commercial-filled drink break on Melbourne Victory’s 2021-22 campaign, a quarter of what promises to be a much better season for the four-time A-League Men’s champions.

After consecutive seasons of disappointment, finishing tenth and last respectively, the Victory occupies the top of the championship after having played seven matches. Granted, a number of other clubs have played fewer games, but Tony Popovic’s side have had an extremely bright start to a new era at the club. You can also grab four more FFA Cup victories to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2016-17.

I’ll touch on this extraordinary Cup race later, but first, let’s take a look at the action from the A-League Men.

Victory has won four, two draws and lost one game. The depth of the team has been tested, and so far they pass with flying colors. They have fielded 21 players in total so far, including 17 different starters, and have yet to field their top 11 players.

They are an almost entirely new team compared to last season, with Popovic’s strategy being with the old and with the new, and he has added a Perth Glory flavor to his Victory squad. In total, five former Glory players have signed with the club – Jason Davidson, Chris Ikonomidis, Matthew Spiranovic, Jason Geria, Nick D’Agostino – joining Jake Brimmer, who also made a stint at Perth under Popovic.

(Photo by Mackenzie Sweetnam / Getty Images)

It’s a throwback to old ways for the Victory. They play a style of play that maybe doesn’t quite look like when Kevin Muscat was at the helm, but it serves as a little reminder. They rediscovered their passion, finding ways to get results with that stubborn spirit that we used to see from before the last two seasons. They lead the league in tackles convincingly and score freely, with 12 goals in seven matches, which Muscat’s Victory has done a lot.

Although they are the leaders of the league, they have not been in charge of the games they have played. In fact, Victory averages just 46% possession and 13 shots per game, according to They are also in ninth place in terms of shots on target per game. However, they are leading the way in terms of goals per shot and goals per shot on target in the league, so Victory is finding ways to score from good chances.

Victory has beaten Western United twice this season, a team that have otherwise won every other league game they have played. Their other wins were against Adelaide in a fiery original rivalry and Brisbane in a 3-0 clinical performance. Their only loss, against Perth, was significantly affected by a red card to Rai Marchan in the shadow of half-time. The score was zero at this point and Victory lost 3-0.

The Melbourne Derby was a spectacle for Australian football, with the 2-2 draw played in front of nearly 20,000 fans the highlight of the A-League Men’s season so far.

Last Saturday night was a big missed opportunity against Adelaide at home, with Victory conceding an equalizer in stoppage time and unusually wasting chances to put the game aside before then. However, they were missing several titular players for this match.

Let’s take a look at the victory side.

In the goal, Ivan Kelava had a big impact to start his Victory career. Fans love him and he adores fans. There were question marks over his abilities, but I think the great Croatian did well, making good reflex saves. His distribution hasn’t been great and you worry a bit about set pieces, but his positives outweigh the negatives. Interestingly, he has yet to concede a first-half goal all season.

Victory’s four full-backs are a lot better than last season, which doesn’t mean much considering they conceded 60 goals in 2020-21, but it’s a big step forward.

There was the idea that Popovic would play a back five with two full-backs like he’s done in the league before with Perth, but the full four worked well for Victory. Roderick Miranda looks a fantastic addition in the center back position, winning duels and playing from behind with poise and class. He made only one notable mistake throughout the campaign, an aerial swing that led to a goal against Western United in the sixth round, but he also scored a game-winning goal against the same opposition in the opener. of the season, so the former Wolves defender won me over.

Matthew Spiranovic has made a welcome return to football, making a few league appearances despite some recurring injury issues. Leigh Broxham and Brendan Hamill also replaced mid-back, showcasing Victory’s depth.

Jason Geria has been a right-back all season, while Jason Davidson has been brilliant at left-back despite some injury issues and also received a red card. Stefan Nigro is there as a full-back, as Leigh Broxham and Jay Barnett did well in the left-back role against Adelaide on Saturday night after Victory exhaustion due to injuries and COVID protocols.

The midfielder was very solid and Jake Brimmer impressed me the most. He was the protagonist of Victory’s resurgence at the top of the league. He was their best player last season, scoring five goals and adding five assists, but in 2021-2022 he has taken it to another level.

Brimmer leads the Victory midfielder and is the perfect link between their two defensive midfielders Josh Brillante and Rai Marchan in the top three. He also enjoys set pieces, already finding three assists in a deadball situation this season. Victory players look to put him on the ball when building attacks, and more often than not he delivers for them.

Brimmer would leave a significant hole if he wasn’t on the side, but if not, the Victory has handy substitutes throughout the park. Broxham can also play Mr. Fix-It in that central defensive midfielder role if needed, but Brillante and Marchan have been ultra-impressive.

The top three were riddled with injuries and changes but despite the instability they managed to score goals and deliver results. Victory’s biggest rookie Chris Ikonomidis hasn’t had the start to the season he was hoping for, having only started two games. Marco Rojas looked good when he was at the park, recording four assists, but he’s averaging just 47 minutes in the six games he’s played.

Ben Folami, arguably the third player in the line-up in terms of winger behind Rojas and Ikonomidis, was the most consistent contributor of the three for Victory. He only has one goal contribution for the season, a formidable header against Roar in the second round, but his attacking flair and willingness to face players has been fantastic to watch. He is very strong with the ball and can achieve brilliant crosses that have yet to be awarded.

Francesco Margiotta and Nick D’Agostino have been very useful strikers, scoring six goals between them in seven matches. Margiotta is classy on the ball and has a wider pass range than D’Agostino, whose strengths lie more in his pace on the counterattack and smart runs behind.

Additionally, Nishan Velupillay has been a find on the wing for Victory and will cause problems for opposing teams off the bench. And then there’s still Robbie Kruse, who only averages 15 minutes per game out of the six he’s played. It is clear that he is no longer a holder, but it is more than practical to have as a replacement.

Dissecting Melbourne Victory’s season so far

Nick D’Agostino (Photo by Darrian Traynor / Getty Images)

There have been a lot more players to run in the FFA Cup matches, and it’s quite remarkable that Victory is still alive. They first had to play a qualifying game just to get into the competition, and that game was so delayed due to COVID restrictions at the time there were calls that they had to forgo the game if they couldn’t. not play. With the game against Perth finally played, Victory won on penalties 4-3.

They then beat Adelaide City with a 96th-minute penalty in the round of 16 and beat the Gold Coast Knights 2-1 in the round of 16 after an overtime winner.

Then with a win over Adelaide United in the quarter-final, another tough 2-1 away win, Victory is sort of in the semi-final. They will play the Phoenix at home, which was originally scheduled to be this week, but with cases of COVID in the Wellington camp, that game will be delayed.

That’s a lot to take as the season just begins, and there’s a lot more to look forward to for Melbourne Victory fans. Hopefully COVID doesn’t ruin what looks to be a fascinating season for the A-League Men.

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