Grand final preview, Premiership decider, Berisha's 100 goals. So many sub-plots, such a season-defining clash - this is one Big Blue you simply must see.
Friday, 3 March 2017
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh
Assistant Referee 2: Owen Goldrick
Fourth Official: Kurt Ams
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS VICELAND from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Melbourne, ABC Radio Vic, 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 #BigBlue
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
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: 12.Aaron CALVER (promoted), 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)
Unavailable: 22.Seb RYALL (hamstring – 2-3 weeks)
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 23.Jai INGHAM, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (promoted), 19.George HOWARD (promoted)
If Victory is any hope of chasing down Sydney FC for the Premiership, they simply must win at Allianz.
There’s an eight point gap between the Hyundai A-League’s top two.
With six rounds to go it’s not insurmountable but it’s hard to see the Sky Blues surrendering that advantage if they avoid defeat in front of their home fans here.
Graham Arnold’s side responded emphatically to their first loss in round 20, disposing of a 10-man Melbourne City 3-1 at AAMI PARK last Friday night.
Tim Cahill’s pre-game taunt the Sky Blues could be vulnerable for the big end-of-season matches has seemingly been blown out of the water.
They have responded to almost every challenge put in front of them in the 2016/17 Season - but this is arguably the biggest test of the lot.
Victory stayed in the hunt for the Premiership thanks to last weekend’s hard-earned 2-1 win over Adelaide United.
Despite playing second fiddle to the Sky Blues for much of the season, the star-quality in Kevin Muscat’s squad means they will be genuine contenders when the finals come around.
But after losing both previous Big Blue clashes this season – despite taking the lead each time – they’ll want a result here to try and land a psychological blow before the finals.
And who knows, if Berisha bags a brace, he'll hit 100 in the Hyundai A-League.
What a night in store.
ROUTE TO GOAL
One thing you can be sure of, there'll be goals.
Only once in the last 18 matches between these two have we seen a goalless draw, while they average more than three per match over the same period.
And if you look at what they are doing in the 2016/17 Season then it’s hard to see much changing here.
Both sides have scored 44 goals from their 21 matches and possess attacking quartets dripping with quality.
Three quarters of Sydney’s goals (33) have come from their front four of Bobo, Brosque, Ninkovic and Holosko.
But it’s their Brazilian marquee who has been the most impressive of late, bagging three in his last three games including a brace last weekend.
At the other end, Berisha continues to set the pace when it comes to goals and looks destined to finish with the golden boot.
His sublime strike with the outside of his right foot against Adelaide last Saturday took his tally for the season to 17 and he’s now just two goals away from the magical 100 mark in the Hyundai A-League.
What a story if he could get there at Allianz, the same venue where he scored his very first goal back in the 2011/12 Season.
His battle with Sky Blues defender Jordy Buijs – who labelled Berisha as ‘nothing special’ after the Australia Day Big Blue – will be one worth keeping an eye on.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
Besart Berisha. ‘Super Bes’ scored his 50th Victory goal last weekend and now needs just two more to hit triple figures in the Hyundai A-League. Could he get there at the same venue he scored his very first goal at almost six years ago?
FORM LINES (last five games)
Sydney FC: WDWLW
Sydney FC 2-2 Melbourne Victory