Melbourne’s high-stakes 2020 AFL season will begin with an imposing trip to Perth to face a West Coast side bolstered by the acquisition of Tim Kelly.
The AFL has confirmed the round-one fixture for next season, with the Eagles and Demons set to cap off the weekend in a Sunday twilight clash at Optus Stadium.
No team will be under greater scrutiny than the Dees after they went from being preliminary-finalists in 2018 to finishing 17th on the ladder this year.
The Eagles loom as a major threat next season with Kelly bolstering an already potent midfield led by Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui.
Premiers Richmond will again launch the season against Carlton in a Thursday night clash likely to attract more than 90,000 fans to the MCG.
Expectations are high for the Blues after they showed strong improvement in the second half of last season under David Teague.
Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs will face off on the Friday night at Marvel Stadium.
Essendon host Fremantle at the same venue on Saturday afternoon, Adelaide host Sydney and Gold Coast take on Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.
It was confirmed earlier in the week that GWS will host a Saturday night double-header against Geelong in both AFL and AFLW at Giants Stadium.
North Melbourne and St Kilda open proceedings on Sunday before Hawthorn host Brisbane in one of just two MCG games for the opening round.
AFL ROUND 1 2020 FIXTURE
Thursday, March 19
Richmond v Carlton, MCG, 4.25pm
Friday, March 20
Western Bulldogs v Collingwood, Marvel Stadium, 4.50pm
Saturday, March 21
Essendon v Fremantle, Marvel Stadium, 10.45am
Adelaide v Sydney, Adelaide Oval, 1.35pm
GWS v Geelong, Giants Stadium, 4.25pm
Gold Coast v Port Adelaide, Metricon Stadium, 4.25pm
Sunday, March 22
North Melbourne v St Kilda, Marvel Stadium, 10.10am
Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions, MCG, 12.20pm
West Coast v Melbourne, Optus Stadium, 3.20pm