‘It should dig at them’ – O’Neill feeds off Victory misery ahead of Big Blue
Brandon O’Neill revels in the knowledge Sydney FC’s 6-1 hammering of Melbourne Victory in last season’s Hyundai A-League Semi Final has been eating away at their rivals for the entire off-season.
As the two sides get set to meet for the first time in the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign on Sunday afternoon, O’Neill says the Sky Blues are more than prepared to face a Victory outfit hell-bent on revenge.
“It’s good, isn’t it? It should dig at them,” O’Neill said, reflecting on his side’s Semi-Final triumph.
“I don’t think any team or any professional organisation likes being beaten like that, if they want to use that as motivation it would be only just.”
“I think if we were in that similar situation and some team wiped the floor with us in the Semi-Final like that I’d be exactly the same.
“I’d want to batter them 7-1 rather than 6-1.”
The rivalry resumes at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium – the scene of Sydney’s Semi Final mauling of Victory – providing the visitors an early opportunity to start mending the damage dealt to them by the ruthless Sky Blues in the 6-1 win.
O’Neill knows exactly what’s on the line as the Big Blue approaches.
He’s read all the storylines, soaked up all the pressure, and is confident Sydney FC can not only go out there and win, but win emphatically once again.
“We’ll go out there and try and replicate what we did in the Semi-Final,” O’Neill said.
“They can throw everything at us.
“We know everyone this weekend will be talking about the 6-1 Semi-Final drubbing, we know everyone will be talking about Victory wanting to get revenge, and it will be built up in the media as a revenge twist to that game.
“We’re a team where we’re very composed in difficult circumstances like that.
“We’re cool, we’re calm, we’re collected, and we’ll do everything in our utmost power that week to prepare as best as we can.
“If we score four, five or six – happy days, but if we score one and win 1-0, even better.”
Victory head into the clash under new head coach Marco Kurz, who will undoubtedly be running through the footage and statistics from last season’s Semi-Final in preparation for his first Big Blue.
In doing so, Kurz will struggle to see just how Sydney won so comfortably.
Sydney had 12 shots to Victory’s 10, and had less possession than the visitors (46%), however the Sky Blues scored six of their seven shots on target in a game of football that seemed to run more on confidence and momentum than logic and fact.
But Sydney FC defender Alex Wilkinson has a simple explanation for the result.
“It was a crazy game,” Wilkinson said.
“It was one of those games where we’d been threatening to score a lot of goals all year and for some reason on that night it all came together perfectly.
“It probably wasn’t a 6-1 game but we were really ruthless in front of goal and took our opportunities when they presented themselves.
“We scored most of the chances we had and it was the perfect storm for us.”
Sydney’s perfect storm poured torrential rain onto the Victory parade that night, adding even more bite to an already feisty rivalry between the two sides.
And Wilkinson cannot wait for more.
“The rivalry between us and Victory has always been there in the A-League, but I think over the last 3 or 4 seasons it’s really intensified,” Wilkinson said.
“We’ve played each other so many times in big games, Semi Finals, Grand Finals, regular season games where we’re first and second in the league, and we’re tight.
“That rivalry is fantastic, those three games every year we really look forward to, and this one’s going to be no different.”
Sydney FC vs. Melbourne Victory kicks off at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday, 17 November, 6:30pm AEDT