Victory say there's no case for defence

February 21, 2010
By Guy Hand

Melbourne Victory are aiming for the goals to come as freely as the frequent flyer points, vowing not to shelve their attacking style in a trickily timed Asian Champions League opener on Tuesday night.

Melbourne arrived in Beijing on Monday ahead of their ACL clash with Chinese champions Beijing Guoan - a match shoehorned between their two A-League major semi-final legs.

As part of a schedule which will test body, mind and fatigue levels to the maximum, the Victory have held training sessions in three countries over four days in preparation for the match.

After beating Sydney FC on Thursday night, the Victory held a recovery session in Melbourne on Friday, then trained on Saturday in Singapore during a 24-hour stopover there.

On Monday, they trained at the match venue in Beijing in chilly temperatures.

A frozen lake outside their hotel hints at the sort of weather awaiting them on Tuesday night - a far cry from what they have experienced in recent weeks in the summer A-League.

But tempting as it may be to park the team bus in front of their goal in the first of six ACL group stage matches, coach Ernie Merrick said the Victory would not compromise their trademark go-for-goal style.

Merrick also suggested match fitness may help the Victory against a Beijing side still in their domestic pre-season.

"When you play as many games as we have over the past five years with a proven goalscoring record, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and our style of football won't change," Merrick said from Beijing on Monday.

"I'm not going to change our attacking play.

"Leg fitness is another plus for us. We've been together for 28 rounds of football, plus another 15 practice games.

"We're very sharp, we're very battle-hardened. They haven't yet kicked a ball in anger (this season). We think the fitness is with us."

Merrick is likely to go with the same starting 11 that beat Sydney FC 2-1 last week, with striker Nik Mrdja still eligible to play despite his send-off in that match.

But strikers Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson remain sidelined through injury.

Beijing Guoan are expected to field Australian duo Joel and Ryan Griffiths in their lineup.