Preview: Adelaide United v Sydney FC

This is one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in the A-League, which kicked off way back in the competition's inaugural season when the Reds and Sky Blues were tussling for top-of-the-table supremacy.

Date: Sunday 19 February 2012 Kick-off: 7.00pm AEDT, 6.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 22 Wins: Adelaide 9, Sydney 10, Draws: 3

Previous encounter Sydney FC 2, Adelaide United 2, 22 December 2011

History: This is one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in the Hyundai A-League, which kicked off way back in the competition's inaugural season when the Reds and Sky Blues were tussling for top-of-the-table supremacy. Since then, with derbies in Melbourne, regional NSW and south-east Queensland - on top of the increasingly bitter relationship between Sydney and Melbourne Victory - it's taken something of a back seat in recent times. But the 'original rivalry', as some fans have dubbed it, is still warmly anticipated. This year, Adelaide have failed to beat Sydney FC in two attempts - in their first meeting they dropped the match 2-1 at home, and more recently they fought out a 2-2 stalemate in John Kosmina's first match in charge of the Reds after the sacking of Rini Coolen.

Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: DLLWW Sydney: DWDLW

Summary of form: With a win over Persipura Jayapura in Thursday night's AFC Champions League qualifier, Adelaide have built themselves a little bit of momentum in the past week or so. United were simply too good for the Indonesian outfit, who were tired and jetlagged after arriving in the City of Churches barely 24 hours before kick-off. The South Australians now won two on the trot, after their 2-1 triumph over struggling Gold Coast United on the weekend, but they cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal for one moment - or else the prospect of finals football will fade away.

Sydney have continued the maddening inconsistency that has plagued them all season. In their most recent outing, they were surprising victors over Perth - surprising not only because the Glory have been in stunning form in their march up the table, but because the Sky Blues themselves were simply tossed aside by Newcastle at home just a few days prior.

Match Committee: Adelaide can call upon the services of Uruguayan midfield holder Pancho Usucar for this match. He played no part in Thursday's qualifier because the Reds were only allowed to field three foreigners, but expect him to play a major role on Sunday given the three-day gap between fixtures and the impact that is likely to have on the fitness of the squad. Already, Adelaide are without Qantas Australian U23s pair Antony Golec and Daniel Mullen, injured trio Paul Izzo (back), Spase Dilevski (groin) and Jon McKain (knee), while Milan Susak is no longer with the club.

Sydney captain Terry McFlynn will return alongside Jamie Coyne and Juho Makela for this match. They only have one player, Dimi Petratos, who is overseas with the Qantas Australian U23s, while their only injured players are Seb Ryall, Terry Antonis (both hamstring) and Mark Bridge (ankle).

Danger men: Nigel Boogaard - With so many defenders unavailable for selection at Hindmarsh, plenty of responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the former Mariners centre-half. But he's stepped up his game in recent weeks, with his unorthodox partnership with makeshift stopper Evgieny Levchenko filling in the gap. The Reds have conceded just once - an unfortunate but unavoidable own goal, off Boogaard himself - in their wins over GCU and Persipura.

Brett Emerton - Many have expected a greater output this season from Sydney's big-money marquee man, but against Perth he showed his class. And not only because Emerton scored one goal and assisted another - it was the manner in which he did so. Neither would have been possible without brilliant first touches from the veteran midfielder, who provided a subtle reminder of his superior technical ability against the Glory.

At the end of the day… The greater fitness levels and squad depth of Adelaide United will be tested on Sunday. They've had a bizarre week - first, they played in monsoonal rain on the Gold Coast. Then there was the political confusion of their match against Persipura, which came out of the blue and was hastily organized at the demand of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Their opponents didn't even show up until barely 24 hours before kick-off due to visa problems, so there were probably a few hours there when Adelaide players would have wondered if they would even go ahead with it. Now they have to back up for their third match in seven days against a Sydney side who would have taken a great deal of confidence from their win on the weekend. Fortunately they're playing at home - it would have been much worse if Adelaide were on the road for more than just one of those games. But will John Kosmina be forced to ring the changes to cope with the physical demands of their week? He admitted the ACL qualifier was his primary focus, so the players who were named on the bench against Persipura - Zenon Caravella, Ricardo, Jacob Melling - may play a greater role against Sydney. Is that enough to cope with the challenge of the Sky Blues? It's difficult to say, which usually means predicting a draw is a pretty safe bet. We'll err on the side of caution and go for a stalemate.


Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 2.Osama Malik, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 6.Cassio, 7.Zenon Caravella, 8.Evgeniy Levchenko, 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite, 13.Ricardo Da Silva, 14.Cameron Watson, 15.Jacob Melling, 17.Iain Ramsay, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 21.Francisco Usucar, 38.John Hall (gk) *one to be omitted*

In: Ricardo Da Silva (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Daniel Mullen (international duty), Mark Birighitti (gk) (international duty), Antony Golec (international duty), Spase Dilevski (groin), Jon McKain (knee), Paul Izzo (gk) (knee)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam Reddy, 3. Jamie Coyne, 4. Pascal Bosschaart, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 6. Hirofumi Moriyasu, 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Karol Kisel, 9. Bruno Cazarine, 10. Nick Carle, 12. Shannon Cole, 15. Terry McFlynn, 16. Joel Chianese, 18. Juho Makela, 20. Ivan Necevski, 21. Scott Jamieson, 22. Nathan Sherlock, 23. Rhyan Grant, 24. Mitch Mallia (three to be omitted).

In: Jamie Coyne (promoted), Terry McFlynn (returns from injury), Juho Makela (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Dimi Petratos (Qantas Australian U23 duty), Sebastian Ryall (hamstring - 2 weeks), Mark Bridge (ankle - 3 weeks), Terry Antonis (hamstring, 1 week)