Football Federation Australia has released the Hyundai A-League's 2014-15 fixture.
The full fixture can be found here, but I've identified some of the highlights and titbits specific to Melbourne City.
- The team opens its season with a Saturday night blockbuster against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium. That has a number of implications:
David Villa will likely make his much-anticipated debut interstate (boo!);
City will begin its season in Melbourne Heart's familiar red-and-white stripes, and against the team that fought hard to prevent the club from adopting sky blue as its primary colour;
There won't be a Melbourne derby in the opening game/round, which is fantastic news. I've never been a fan of the opening round derby, because crowds will attend derbies no matter when they are scheduled. As such, it makes more sense to wait for the season to breathe a little before pitting city rivals against one another.
- Speaking of derbies, City will get its first crack against Victory in Round 3. The navy blue side will host two derbies at Etihad Stadium next season (in Rounds 3 and 17), while City will serve as the home side in the now annual "Christmas Derby" at AAMI Park on Saturday 20 December. No complaints at all on that front.
- We'll get our first look at City's new home kit in Round 2, when the side hosts Newcastle at AAMI Park. That game will also mark the first home appearances of Villa, Damien Duff and the club's other local and international signings. With the derby coming a week later followed by another home game against Adelaide United, fans will get plenty of early-season opportunities to see the new-look team.
- City will partake in the A-League's so-called "Summer of Football" calendar, which will see 21 matches played over 22 days, by hosting a marquee fixture against Perth Glory on Boxing Day. Not sure I'm in favour of scheduling a sporting event other than cricket on Boxing Day in Melbourne.
- The A-League is trialling Thursday night matches for the first time next season... thankfully City will play no part in that.
- City is not scheduled to play any home fixtures in regional areas next season.
- City faces two away games against Victory, Wellington, Sydney FC, Western Sydney and the Central Coast...
- ... and plays two home games against Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth. It's a 27-game fixture, and next season City will play 13 games at home and 14 away.
- Interestingly, City will not travel to Adelaide or Perth until the final three weeks of the season.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Which fixtures are you most looking forward to next season?