Huge GOAT claim as Rudan names ‘best squad in the league’: Isuzu UTE A-League R7 Preview previews all 6 of the matches in Round 7 of the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Round 7 of the Isuzu UTE A-League season is upon us! Ahead of the action getting underway, previews all six of the contests.


So much of the talk right now in the Isuzu UTE A-League centres on Bruno Fornaroli.

Eight years after landing in Australia as a little-known Uruguayan import, the Melbourne Victory star is in arguably the form of his life, with seven goals in the opening six rounds putting him well clear in the race for the Golden Boot and firmly in contention for a spot in the Socceroos’ squad for January’s Asian Cup.

Last week he added another priceless moment to his highlight reel, winning Goal of the Week for a strike that will take some beating when it comes to end of season honours.

So it was little wonder Western Sydney Wanderers boss Marko Rudan was asked about Fornaroli in his pre-match press conference ahead of a blockbuster clash between his side and the Victory at Commbank Stadium to close out the round on Sunday.

Asked if he’s ever seen a player at Fornaroli’s age (36) hitting the heights he is at the moment, Rudan responded: “Yeah, I have Marcelo for me. He’s better this year than he was last year. He’s also 36 and I’ve always said that age is irrelevant.

“I’ve been a big fan of Bruno Fornaroli. He knows that. I’ve tried to get him a couple of times.

“For me, Melbourne Victory have the best squad in the league. They do. You look at their bench and you go, ‘phwoah’. You’ve got three or four players that could easily start in any other team. That’s just a fact.

“For me, they have the strongest squad in the league. So, we know what we’re up against, but we’re at home. And we’re going to be on the front foot. We’re going to go at them.

“We’re going to attack, which I’m sure they’ll try to do as well.

“But we’ve all got nothing but positive things to say about Bruno. He looks hungry, he lookd motivated, he looks fresh, scoring goals which is always what you want from a striker.

“He’s the leading scorer in the competition as well scored a fantastic goal last week you know so we’ve got to be at our best, not just at the back to stop him but everywhere if we’re going to win this game on Sunday.”

A centre-back himself during his playing days in the Isuzu UTE A-League and beyond, Rudan was asked if he’d have relished taking on the Victory talisman, which led him put the 36-year-old in exalted company alongside the great Besart Berisha in the annals of A-Leagues history.

“I’d have loved it. I always struggled with plays in behind me because I wasn’t the quickest, so I think you’ve answered your own question there,” he continued.

“He doesn’t make a lot of runs in behind. He’ll try early on when he’s okay but he’s probably the best at holding the ball up in the league and that’s their strength, he brings players into the game.

“But he can also turn, he’s dangerous in the box if you give him half a sniff.

“If you look at history, probably the best two in the in the history of the game was (Besart) Berisha and Fornaroli for me.

“Those two when you look at the ratio of chances and goals, probably I think Besart maybe has just a touch better than Fornaroli in terms of half chances created to goals, but that’s what sets the great ones apart from the good ones, they convert more of those chances than not.

“And Bruno is still doing that and that’s why he’s still so dangerous.

“It’s not just about Bruno, they’ve got they’ve got a very solid team and, like I said, they’ve got the best squad for me in the competition and you know they’re going to come hard at us and but we know that.

“It’s about us going out there and dictating and making sure that we dominate and I believe that we will.”

But there’s plenty to dig into before those two teams lock horns, beginning with Friday night’s double-header…

UNITE ROUND TICKETS ON SALE NOW: Get your tickets for the ultimate away day here

Friday, 7:45pm (AEDT): Central Coast Mariners v Western United

Incredibly, a meeting between the last two champions of the Isuzu UTE A-League this weekend is actually a battle that pits last against second-last on the table.

The Central Coast Mariners will be looking to continue their uplift in form when Western United come to town on Friday night, buoyed by the fact that the visitors have never in their history claimed victory at Industree Group Stadium across five attempts.

Both teams will be desperate to bank their second win of the campaign, with Socceroos legend John Aloisi under some pressure to right the ship at Western, who are ironically the lowest scorers in the competition by a distance, having only scored three goals so far this term.

Opta Stat: Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners) has created three scoring chances this A-League Men season; no other goalkeeper has created even one this campaign.

Central Coast Mariners v Western United
Friday, December 8 2023
Industree Group Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Friday, 9:45pm (AEDT): Perth Glory v Melbourne City

A head-to-head clash between Socceroos strikers Jamie Macaren and Adam Taggart looks set to deliver goals galore when Perth Glory host Melbourne City in the late Friday night kick-off.

Maclaren is just three goals shy of becoming the first player to score 100 goals for a single club in Isuzu UTE A-League history and he’ll be keen to bring the milestone up in style, while Taggart has been directly involved in 10 goals across his last 11 games against City.

Alen Stajcic’s Glory sit 10th in the table and face a tough ask to arrest a leaky defence against a star-studded attack who could hand Mathew Leckie his first start since returning from injury.

Opta stat: Melbourne City FC have won three of their last four A-League Men games against the Perth Glory in Western Australia (L1) despite conceding two goals in three of those four games.

Perth Glory v Melbourne City
Friday, December 8 2023
HBF Park
Kick-off: 9:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Saturday, 5:30pm (AEDT): Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets

League leaders Wellington Phoenix will host Newcastle Jets on Saturday fresh off a week where they completed an unprecedented clean sweep of the A-Leagues’ monthly awards.

Giancarlo Italiano and Alex Paulsen claimed Coach and Player of the Month gongs respectively and the in-form goalkeeper will likely be a thorn in the Jets’ side this weekend; no shot-stopper has a better save percentage this term (87%) and he’s already saved two penalties through six rounds.

Rob Stanton’s Jets will hope to have star striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos back on the park after he missed out last time out with injury, while minimising mistakes will also be key, given they have made seven errors leading to a shot conceded this season, three more than any other team.

The visitors will need to be at their best if they are to end the Phoenix’s unbeaten start on their own turf at Sky Stadium.

Opta stat: The Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets have each scored 599 goals in the A-League Men despite the Phoenix (436) having played 44 fewer games in the competition than the Newcastle Jets (480); each of the last two games between these teams have seen both teams score at least one goal on the day.

Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, December 9 2023
Sky Stadium
Kick-off: 5:30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+

Saturday, 7:45pm (AEDT): Sydney FC v Macarthur

Macarthur FC head across town to face Sydney FC on the equal longest unbeaten run in their history and they’ll be riding high after a dramatic 4-3 win over Adelaide United on Monday night.

Skipper Ulisess Davila has been in irresistible form, scoring two goals and adding three assists across his last three league appearances; the Sky Blues will know all about the threat he brings, given the Mexican has scored thee in his last four matches against them.

The danger man for Ufuk Talay’s Sydney FC will likely be Joe Lolley, with the Englishman making a league-high 29 shots at goal so far this term.

This fixture will be a special one for the Hollman family, with brothers Corey (Sydney) and Jake (Macarthur) getting the chance to reprise their backyard battles on Allianz Stadium.

Opta stat: Macarthur FC won 3-0 in their last A-League Men game against Sydney FC, snapping a three-game winless streak against them (D1 L2); the Bulls are undefeated against the Sky Blues away from Campbelltown Stadium (W3 D1).

Sydney FC v Macarthur
Saturday, December 9 2023
Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Bold, Paramount+

Sunday, 3pm (AEDT): Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar

Adelaide United continue to be the box office side of the Isuzu UTE A-League, with their matches this season offering an average of 4.6 goals-per-game – and a clash against a Brisbane Roar side who have had no trouble finding the net themselves this term promises to be no different.

Despite the departure of talisman Craig Goodwin, the Reds are the league’s top scorers so far this term with 17 strikes, led by the in-form Zach Clough, who sighed a fresh deal this week, as well as the scintillating Nestory Irankunda and the experienced Ben Halloran.

The Roar will need to defeat history to stop them; Adelaide are undefeated in their last seven league matches against Brisbane, a run that dates back to January 2021.

Although, under Ross Aloisi, the Queenslanders have been a surprise packet this term, sitting fourth and scoring two or more goals in each of their last five Isuzu UTE A-League matches – the last and only previous time they did that was between January and March 2011 under Ange Postecoglou.

Opta stat: Brisbane Roar FC have scored four goals within the first 15 minutes of games this A-League Men season, more than any other team in the competition, while no team has conceded more goals in this period than Adelaide United (3).

Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, December 10 2023
Coopers Stadium
Kick-off: 3pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: 10 Bold, Paramount+

Sunday, 5pm (AEDT): Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory

Who would have thought watching Sydney FC play in the mid-2000s that one day Marko Rudan and Tony Popovic would coach the Sky Blues’ biggest rivals against each other in 2023?

Well, that’s what will happen on Sunday afternoon as the Wanderers host the Victory in a mouth-watering clash between two of the Isuzu UTE A-League’s best sides so far this term.

Rudan’s men will fancy themselves to come out on top – particularly if star defender Marcelo recovers in time from the injury that saw him last just 35 minutes against Brisbane last time out – given they have won six of their last eight league matches against the Wanderers.

Popovic’s Victory will be out to finally claim all three points to snap a remarkable streak of four straight draws; only three times in competition history has any team drawn more consecutive games (6 – Wellington Phoenix in 2009, 5 – Western Sydney Wanderers FC in 2017, 5 – Melbourne Victory in 2007).

Their skipper Bruno Fornaroli has thrust himself into contention for the Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup with seven goals in six matches to start the campaign, but he has only scored once in his last six against the Wanderers, a record he will surely be out to rectify this weekend.

Opta stat: Western Sydney Wanderers FC have scored exactly two goals and won each of their four A-League Men games against the Melbourne Victory at CommBank Stadium, keeping two clean sheets in that stretch.

Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, December 10 2023
Commbank Stadium
Kick-off: 5pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Paramount+