Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v City

With the Premiers Plate safely in their locker, the Sky Blues are now chasing a record Hyundai A-League regular season points haul. With Tim Cahill back from Caltex Socceroos duty, can City inflict Sydney FC’s first home defeat of the campaign?

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MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

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

Referee: Peter Green

Assistant Referee 1: Ashley Beecham

Assistant Referee 2: Scott Edeling

Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.45pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, 1116 SEN (Melbourne)

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #SYDvMCY #jmftalent #gamechanger

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au

Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant has earned a maiden call-up to the Socceroos.

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**

Ins: 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted), 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk) (returns from international duty), 23.Rhyan GRANT (returns from international duty)

Outs: 40.Thomas HEWARD-BELLE (gk) (returns to NPL squad)

Unavailable: 22.Seb RYALL (hamstring – 1 week)

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, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 34.Dennis GENREAU **two to be omitted**

Ins: 17.Tim CAHILL (returns from international duty), 34.Denis GENREAU (promoted)

City striker Tim Cahill opens the scoring against the Jets with a header on Saturday night.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 27.Fernando BRANDAN (ACL – season), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Any thoughts that Sydney FC might take their foot of the pedal now they’ve won the Premiers Plate were quickly dispelled by coach Graham Arnold during the week.

Arnold said any player whose performance dropped off in the run to the Finals Series would find themselves on the bench.

He also reinforced the Sky Blues’ goal of eclipsing the record points total in a Hyundai A-League season, currently held by Brisbane Roar who accumulated 65 points in the 11-team 2010/11 season.

Sydney FC need seven points from their last three games to surpass that mark.

Melbourne City remain locked in a battle for top four spots and will be keen to rebound quickly from a 3-1 loss to a Brendon Santalab-inspired Western Sydney Wanderers last time out.

Sydney FC striker Bobo celebrates after scoring in his side's 3-1 win over Melbourne City.

They remain one of the most watchable sides in the competition and will want to build some momentum ahead of the Finals Series.

They also grabbed a share of the points when they last visited Sydney FC with only a late penalty denying them victory at Homebush Stadium in round ten.

OPTA DATA

· Melbourne City have scored seven goals from headers so far this season, more than any other team in the competition.

· Both Sydney FC and Melbourne City have recorded 337 shots at goal so far this season, more than any other teams in the competition.

· No player has contested more duels this season than Sky Blues striker Bobo (338), although City skipper Bruno Fornaroli (335) is a close second.

· Fornaroli has scored four goals in his last four games against the Sky Blues, but he hasn’t found the net in either of their last two meetings.

Opta Widget: media:opta:8c99b3d5-1611-4f38-9168-b6a2dc235fbe

ROUTE TO GOAL

Bobo’s strike in the 3-0 win in Perth last Sunday took him to a dozen goals for the season and the Brazilian continues to combine very effectively with Filip Holosko in Sydney FC’s attacking third.

But Alex Brosque (9 goals) and Milos Ninkovic (8) have also been prolific for the runaway league leaders, meaning City can’t focus their defensive strategy on just one player.  

The Sky Blues also need just one goal to be the first club to chalk up 50 for the Hyundai A-League season.

Back-to-back braces from City skipper Bruno Fornaroli have rocketed him back into Golden Boot contention, but the Uruguayan master will need every weapon in his arsenal to unlock a Sydney FC defence which has conceded just 11 goals all season and last weekend kept a record-equalling 14th clean sheet.  

Bruno Fornaroli celebrates one of his two goals against the Jets on Saturday night.

Tim Cahill may return from Caltex Socceroos duty via the bench with winger Nick Fitzgerald in sparkling form.

Michael Valkanis would also love more goalscoring output from Fornaroli’s support cast, including Bruce Kamau, Nicolas Colazo and Anthony Caceres, who have combined for just six goals all season.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK

Sydney FC secured the Premiers Plate with four games to spare when Brisbane beat Melbourne Victory last Saturday night.

FORM LINES (last five games)

Sydney FC: LWWWW

Melbourne City: WLWWL

PREDICTION

Sydney FC 2 Melbourne City 1