Hyundai A-League preview: Melbourne City v Sydney FC

After their first loss of the season, a wounded Sydney FC head south to AAMI Park where Melbourne City will be keen to maintain the Sky Blues' pain in Harvey Norman Friday Night Football.

MATCH DETAILS

Friday, 24 February 2017

Melbourne City FC v Sydney FC

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis

Assistant Referee 2: Luke Brennan

Fourth Official: Shaun Evans

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS VICELAND from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Melbourne, ABC Radio Sydney, ABC Radio Vic/NSW, Grandstand Digital Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), 1116 SEN (Melbourne)

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #MCYvSYD

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (c), 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Fernando BRANDAN, 34.Denis GENREAU, 40.Yaren SOZER (gk)

**two to be omitted**

​Melbourne City have confirmed that right-back and Caltex Socceroo Ivan Franjic has left the club to move to Korea.

Ins: 5.Ivan FRANJIC (returns from injury), 11.Bruce KAMAU (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk) (suspended – 3 weeks), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN (calf – 1 week), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)

Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jordy BUIJS, 6.Joshua BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Aaron CALVER, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.George BLACKWOOD, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT

**two to be omitted**

Aaron Calver admitted he was pleased to be back playing after a horror run with injury.

Ins: 12.Aaron CALVER (promoted), 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 22.Seb RYALL (hamstring – 3-4 weeks)

BLUFFER'S GUIDE

The Sky Blues' attempt to become the Hyundai A-League's first 'Invincibles' side is over after last week's 1-0 derby defeat.

Now, Sydney need to ensure they don't throw away their impressive lead at the top of the table with second-placed Melbourne Victory having reduced the gap to eight points in Round 20. 

When Brisbane Roar's record 36-game unbeaten run ended in 2011, the Queensland-based club went on to lose five straight matches - not a great omen for Sydney, although coach Graham Arnold dismissed that as a factor this week.

Bruno Fornaroli and Milos Ninkovic compete for the ball in the 2016 Westfield FFA Cup Final.

Perhaps more important is the league-leaders' poor recent record at AAMI Park - they haven't won at the venue in five A-League matches against the two Melbourne clubs - including defeats in their past two games against City.

Michael Valkanis' City regained some confidence last week with a 5-1 thumping of Wellington Phoenix and are preparing to attack a wounded Sydney to begin Round 21.

City and Western Sydney Wanderers are the only teams to have beaten Sydney in all competitions in 2016/17, with the former overcoming the Sky Blues 1-0 in November's Westfield FFA Cup Final.

The four-goal triumph over the Phoenix was only City's third victory since they lifted the FFA Cup but Bruno Fornaroli and Co. moved into third thanks to that win in Wellington and are looking to build some momentum ahead of the finals.

Valkanis has brought full-back Ivan Franjic back from injury to face Sydney, while Bruce Kamau has also been promoted.

Tim Cahill and Bruce Kamau celebrate combining for City's opener against the Mariners in Round 13.

Aaron Calver and George Blackwood have been added to Sydney's extended squad but newly-promoted striker Charles Lokolingoy, who signed his first senior contract this week, has missed out.

City will almost certainly have more of the ball at home - they lead the competition for average possession per game - but statistics show that's not a great gauge for success.

After 100 A-League matches in 2016/17, only 27 have been won by the side with more possession.

Interestingly, Sydney have averaged 48 per cent possession this term to sit seventh in the A-League for that statistic.

OPTA DATA

Hyundai A-League Round 21 stats preview

ROUTE TO GOAL

Sydney were held scoreless for just the fourth time this season in the derby, but it was the second time in three matches.

Arnold is unlikely to be too concerned, however, as the Sky Blues had a couple of penalty shouts turned down against the Wanderers, while Western Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic had to make more saves than Sydney counterpart Danny Vukovic.

Captain Alex Brosque is the member of Sydney's front four under the most pressure to find the back of the net as he's goalless in four games.

City have scored in all but one of their A-League matches this term, while they have seven to their name over the past fortnight.

Skipper Bruno Fornaroli remains the Bundoora-based club's leading marksman, with the Uruguayan having converted his 13th goal of the season versus Wellington.

WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Tim Cahill. The Socceroos forward fired a shot across Sydney's bow this week when he hinted Arnold's focus on defensive structure and swift transitions won't work in the finals.

FORM LINES

Melbourne City: WLLDW

Sydney FC: WWDWL

PREDICTION

Melbourne City 1-1 Sydney FC