With last season’s heartbreaking Semi Final defeat etched into their memory, Sydney FC take on Melbourne Victory in the latest edition of the much-anticipated ‘Big Blue’ with no shortage of motivation.
The Sky Blues seemed on track for the Double last season but after coasting to the Premiers’ Plate, were bundled out of the Hyundai A-League Finals Series by Victory in an all-time classic.
Ex-Sydney midfielder Terry Antonis, who scored a 95th-minute own goal to send the Semi Final to extra time, then ran from inside his own half to score a dramatic 117th-minute winner for Victory, sparking wild celebrations.
Victory then went on to win the Hyundai A-League 2018 Grand Final for a record fourth time.
Ahead of Sunday's clash at Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah, Antonis has started the season brightly, scoring twice as Victory bounced back from losses to Melbourne City and Perth Glory with wins over Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners.
Sydney FC have been more consistent, though, with two wins and two draws making them one of just two Hyundai A-League sides with an unbeaten record.
And while star striker Adam Le Fondre’s record of scoring in every competitive game for the Sky Blues finally came to an end in Round 3, the Englishman is one man Victory will have to keep quiet if they want to repeat last season’s heroics.
The Big Blue will be the fourth of five Round 5 games which celebrate the rebel Female Football Round, an initiative to celebrate women in football and the extensive impact they play at all levels of the game.
Victory will be boosted by the return of Raul Baena for the clash.
KEY OPTA STATS
- Melbourne Victory’s 3-2 win in the last Big Blue broke a seven-match losing steak against Sydney FC, a period in which they had scored just four goals.
- Sydney FC have lost just three of their last 18 home games against Victory (W7, D8); however, this will be their first A-League match at Jubilee Stadium.
- Victory have won their last three games away from, the last time they won more in succession on the road was a four-game stretch in April/May 2015.
INS AND OUTS
Sydney FC Squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 2.Aaron CALVER, 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jop van der LINDEN, 6.Josh BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Paulo RETRE, 9.Adam LE FONDRE, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Daniel DE SILVA, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 20.Alex CISAK (gk), 21.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.Cam DEVLIN, 25.Joel KING.
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 25.Joel KING (promoted)
Unavailable: 3.Ben WARLAND (foot – 5 weeks), 12.Trent BUHAGIAR (ACL – indefinite), 19. Chris ZUVELA (knee – indefinite), 22.Siem DE JONG (4 weeks - hamstring)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Matt ACTON (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3. Corey BROWN, 4.Keisuke HONDA, 5.Georg NIEDERMEIER, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Terry ANTONIS, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI, 11. Ola TOIVONEN, 13. Birkan KIRDAR, 14.Thomas DENG, 15.Raul BAENA, 16.Josh HOPE, 19. Rahmat AKBARI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Nick ANSELL,
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 13. Birkan KIRDAR (promoted), 15. Raul BAENA (return from injury)
Unavailable: Kenny ATHIU (hamstring – TBC), Jai Ingham
HOW TO WATCH
Tune in on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5:00pm AEDT for the 'Big Blue' or watch through the MyFootball Live App.
Secure your ticket for Sydney FC's double-header with Melbourne Victory here.