Melbourne Victory upping W-League derby expectations against City
For the first time since the entry of their crosstown rivals to the W-League, Melbourne Victory don't feel in the shadows of glamour side Melbourne City. And they're determined to take it up to the three-time champions under the Friday night lights at AAMI Park.
Victory and City duel in a standalone derby this weekend, taking centre stage off the A-League -- enjoying a week off with the Socceroos in town -- and following on from another well-supported Matildas friendly series.
Five Matildas will be in action in the derby, with goalscorer Emily Gielnik and Laura Alleway lacing up for Victory. City boast Lydia Williams, Elise Kellond-Knight and club debutant Tameka Butt among their ranks, with long-serving Matildas Steph Catley and Kyah Simon on the sideline.
With several international players and emerging youngsters in support, Victory boss Jeff Hopkins believes the stacked deck of talent will equal a stirring contest.
"This is the way we're heading. I hope this is a bit of a view of the future," he said of their marquee occasion. "Hopefully the game will be well supported. I know for one thing, it's going to be a cracking game. We're in really good form. Obviously City are quality.
"It's really important for the game that it is a really good spectacle."
For the first time in their short W-League rivalry, Victory enter the contest on top of their rivals on the table. Victory has four points from their opening two fixtures, with City beaten on their opening weekend by Canberra United.
Victory, which has fallen behind the pack in previous years, are looking to take the next step in their rise up the table, and for Hopkins that means elevating the contest and the expectations.
"We've done a lot to build the game up... really working hard to make sure it's a really big thing for us," he said. "It really is. We've built it up.
"We're trying to make the game as big and special as we can. Trying to get to the stage where we're not going in as underdogs."