Preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory

It was a six-goal thriller the last time these two fierce rivals clashed, so here's hoping for more of the same when these two sides - with legitimate designs on the Hyundai A-League title - lock horns on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 7.30pm (Local) (7.30pm AEDT)


Sydney FC 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12. Hagi GLIGOR, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Mark JANKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25. Aaron CALVER, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 29. George BLACKWOOD, 34.Robert STAMBOLZIEV.

***two to be omitted***

Ins 2.Seb RYALL (return from injury), 34.Robert STAMBOLZIEV (promoted), 12. Hagi GLIGOR (promoted), 29. George BLACKWOOD (promoted)

Outs 26.Jacques FATY (suspended - 1 week), 6.Nikola PETKOVIC (suspended – 1 week)

Unavailable 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite), 19.Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite), 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (hip – indefinite)

Melbourne Victory 1. Nathan COE (GK), 2. Jason GERIA, 4. Nick ANSELL, 5. Mark MILLIGAN (C), 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 13. Andrew NABBOUT, 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21. Carl VALERI, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23. Adrian LEIJER, 24. Scott GALLOWAY

***two to be omitted***

Ins 5. Mark MILLIGAN (returns from suspension), 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS

Outs Nil

Unavailable 17. Matthieu DELPIERRE (injury)

Hashtag #SYDvMVC

Broadcast coverage

TV – Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.30pm (AEDT)

Radio – ABC Radio Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app

Referee Strebre Delovski

Assistant Referee 1: Allyson Flynn

Assistant Referee 2: Anton Shchetinin

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas


BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Two in-form sides of the competition square off in a clash that is vital for both moving towards the business end of the campaign.

Both teams have hit the ground running since the Hyundai A-League’s resumption following the Asian Cup and will be keen to maintain their momentum at the other’s expense.

Sydney have found their goal-scoring mojo over the last fortnight, bagging eight goals in their last two matches and had plenty of joy against Victory in the 3-3 draw at Etihad at the end of 2014. With Victory also loving to attack, this clash has all the making of another classic between these two big rivals.

The Sky Blues are without central defenders Nikola Petkovic and Jacques Faty but do get Sebastian Ryall back from injury and he’s likely to partner Matt Jurman in the heart of defence. New recruit Robert Stambolziev has also been included in the squad and is set for a berth among the substitutes.

Just the once change for Victory with skipper Mark Milligan back in the squad and likely to come straight back into the starting line-up, with Leigh Broxham expected to drop back to the bench. Archie Thompson netted a hat-trick in the last meeting with the Sky Blues but the Big V legend might have to be content with a spot among the substitutes also.

OPTA DATA STATS

-Including finals matches, seven of the last 11 meetings between these sides in Sydney have ended in a draw.

-After going four Hyundai A-League games in a row without scoring, Sydney FC have rediscovered their form in front of goal in the last two matches; netting eight goals in 180 minutes.

-Sydney FC, however, have still not scored in any of their last three A-League home games – their worst ever run at home in the competition.

-Melbourne Victory has scored with a league-high 23.5 percent of their shots this season.

ROUTE TO GOAL

Victory were at their devastating best in their derby demolition last week with all their front three getting among the goals. Archie Thompson – who slammed a hat-trick against the Sky Blues – is still stuck on the bench which shows just how lethal Victory’s attack is and the depth of their stocks.

Sydney FC could switch skipper Alex Brosque to the left wing for this one and with Bernie Ibini on the right their pace to burn down the flanks could harm Victory, who don't mind leaving gaps when their full backs attack. Look for them to attack the visitors out wide and get in early crosses for marquee man Marc Janko.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Mark Milligan. The Victory skipper has missed his side’s last six games, last turning out in the Hyundai A-League the last time these two sides met. On that occasion Milligan found himself in hot water for a stray elbow which left Sydney FC midfielder Terry Antonis with a nasty gash above his eye - the Victory star copping a three-game ban.

While we're sure the pair put the incident behind them during their time in Socceroos camp together for the Asian Cup, there may be a few other Sydney FC players who haven’t forgotten what Milligan did. It’s just another ingredient to what should be a cracking, fearsome contest. Expect no less from these two sides.

FORM LINES

Sydney are closing in on the top four after an impressive 3-1 road win against league-leaders Perth last weekend, despite being reduced to nine men. The Sky Blues have eight goals in their last two outings, with five different players getting their name on the scoresheet.

Victory crushed neighbours Melbourne City FC 3-0 last week to move within one point of top spot. This is the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with the previous two ending in draws.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses have each scored two goals across Victory’s last two Hyundai A-League games.

PREDICTION

Sydney FC 2-2 Melbourne Victory

There will be no love lost in this Valentine’s Day clash. Both sides are in strong form and are looking sharp in attack. But there is the potential the Sky Blues could be a little vulnerable in defence. Fullbacks Calver and Gersbach, while they’ve been impressive, are still just teenagers while Ryall and Jurman haven’t played much lately. If they can hold firm - and get some good protection from the likes of Tavares and Dimitrijevic – the home side have the firepower to come away with at least a point.

Either way, this will be a beauty. See you there!