Oliver Bozanic (Free), Danny Vukovic (Perth Glory), Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Swansea City), George Howard (youth team), Thomas Deng (youth team), Lucas Spinella (youth team)
Despite only finishing 3 points ahead of Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory were clearly the dominant side of 2014-15. There were some wobbles along the way, including a home loss to the hapless Newcastle Jets. When on song, however, there was no stopping Muscat’s men – as the comprehensive 3-0 defeat of the Sky Blues in the Grand Final showed. Besart Berisha netted 15 times, while veteran Archie Thompson showed there was still gas in the tank by chipping in with 11 goals. Midfield maestro Gui Finkler added 7 of his own while Kosta Barbarouses overcame a slow start to the season to finish with 6. The story of 2014-15 though was the arrival of exciting winger Fahid Ben Khalfallah, whose 5 goals slightly belies his importance to the Victory machine.
In 2015-16, the Victory will be looking to defend both of their titles while also chasing success in the FFA Cup – of which they have already reached the Semi Finals and are massive favourites to dispatch their lower league opposition, Hume City – along with the AFC Champions’ League. One of the most important players for the Victory, Mark Milligan, has departed the club, however he has been replaced by the dynamic Oliver Bozanic, while Perth shot-stopper Danny Vukovic is the new #1 in goals. Victory are the looking likely to take out the Premiership and Championship again, so obviously their star men should be at the top of every fantasy coach’s shopping list.
There has been little evidence in the pre-season to suggest Victory will have any major issues this season. A perfect record of 7 wins from 7 games, along with 24 goals scored highlights this. There was a brief moment of concern against upstarts Rockdale City in the FFA Cup, but the Victory showed their true power in the next round against the holders Adelaide. The Reds were ruthlessly beaten 3-1 without ever being allowed to get a hold on the game, and the scoreline does not reflect how dominant Victory were.
In the other pre-season encounters with A-League sides, the Mariners were crushed 3-0 while Brisbane were a little more resilient, only going down 1-0 to the Victory. Unsurprisingly Berisha top scored with 7, including 2 goals against the Mariners and 1 against the Reds. Connor Pain and Ben Khalfallah were next best with 3 each, though neither found the back of the net of an A-League team.
Melbourne Victory likely first-choice XI (4-3-3)
NB: Jason Geria will miss Round 1 through Olyroos duty, while Nick Ansell is still recovering from injury.
You should consider…
Victory’s trio of attacking superstars – as noted above, Melbourne Victory are widely expected to win the league again, and even if things don’t all go to plan they probably won’t finish any lower than 2nd. There certainly aren’t any questions over Victory’s ability to score goals. Coaches know what they are getting with the likes of Besart Berisha (FWD, $350k, 7 points per game last season), Gui Finkler (MID, $325k, 7ppg) and Fahid Ben Khalfallah (FWD, $300k, 6.6ppg – though as a MID last season). If you can fit all 3 into your team, consider doing it as all because not only should they all back up their efforts from the previous campaign, they could all actually improve their numbers.
Kosta Barbarouses (FWD, $275k, 5.5ppg) had an indifferent start to 2014-15 and struggled to score goals – something he ultimately remedied later in the season. With his jitters out of the way, expect him to be more destructive this season and push his fantasy output higher.
Oliver Bozanic (MID, $250k, did not play A-League in 2014-15) will have a lot of responsibility in Victory’s midfield, which would normally make him a ‘no.’ However Bozanic is capable of playing as a wide forward or an attacking midfielder, and with these sensibilities he may be able to push forward (as Milligan sometimes did) and rack up more goals and assists than would normally be expected for a player in such a role.
You should avoid…
Victory’s young defenders, at least initially. Nick Ansell (DEF, $175k, 3,9ppg) and Jason Geria (DEF, $175k, 2,8ppg) are the two cheapest links into Victory’s defence, however neither are without concerns and both will miss Round 1. If Victory does have a weakness it is the defence, and Ansell’s spot next to Matthieu Delpierre in the centre could come under threat from promising youngster Giancarlo Gallifuoco (DEF, $150k). Indeed, Gallifuoco may start in Round 1 as Ansell is still recovering from injury and won’t play – and if Gallifuoco performs well, Ansell may have a problem getting his spot back. Geria has been much-maligned so far in his career, though he did show signs of settling into his role at right back and should be first choice at least initially. However, he will miss Round 1 though international duty, as will his main competition for a spot in the XI, Scott Galloway (DEF, $150k, 3.8ppg). So it may be wise to avoid picking Victory’s cheaper defenders for your starting squad, and perhaps even until the back four has been settled.
Archie Thompson (FWD, $250k, 4.7ppg) who will begin the season on the sidelines having suffered a knee injury against Adelaide in the FFA Cup. Even when he returns he’ll likely be starting most games on the bench.
Carl Valeri (MID, $250k, 4.1ppg) doesn’t offer much value given he sits deep in the Victory midfield. Likewise his understudy, Rashid Mahazi (MID, $150k, 1.4ppg).
Leigh Broxham (MID, $225k, 4ppg) is an important player for the Victory who can pop up with the odd goal. However, like Craig Goodwin at Adelaide, he has no set role in the team. Furthermore Broxham is normally deployed to cover gaps deep in midfield or defence – roles not conducive to point scoring in fantasy football.
Connor Pain (FWD, $150k, 1.8ppg) struggled for any sort of impact last season and is on the verge of slipping out of the Victory squad. He also will miss Round 1 through international duty.