Preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory

Victory is vital! The Sky Blues are desperate to keep their Finals dreams alive with a long-overdue triumph

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory Saturday 15th January 7:30pm Victory is vital! The Sky Blues are desperate to keep their Finals dreams alive with a long-overdue triumph over their main rivals.

Much has been made of the newly forged Melbourne derby and Sydney have local tussles of their own against a couple of New South Wales opponents, yet there is nothing quite like the rivalry of a match-up between these titans of Australian football. Simply, you will not see a more bitter battle than when the Sky Blues and Victory go head-to-head.

It doesn-t matter if they are playing out a Grand Final or a game tucked away in the middle of the season, there is the same level of intensity, rivalry and desire to win every time these sides meet. And that refers to both what happens on the pitch and in the seats. You don-t need a wider picture to make these games matter. They are simply 90 standalone minutes in which the winner takes it all and, boy, do they let the loser know about it.

And so we reach the third and final clash between the two clubs in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season with Victory having the upper hand, having taken four points from the previous two matches. In the first week of the season, at Sydney Football Stadium, the sides played out an absolute belter amid an electric atmosphere.

Last season-s Champions looked as though they were set to carry on where they left off, racing into a two-goal lead. However, Victory signposted the problems that were to lie ahead for the Sky Blues by smashing three goals past them in a frenetic second-half spell. It was only a brilliant late Shannon Cole free-kick that rescued a point for the home side in a six-goal thriller.

There was no such relief for Vitezslav Lavicka-s team at Etihad though when, in October, Victory were unstoppable and ripped Sydney to pieces with a dominant display, running out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Vargas, Hernandez and the deadly Robbie Kruse.

Sydney will be desperate for the points this Saturday, as they cling onto hopes of a good run sneaking them into the top six. A win will bring them to within five points of Saturday-s opponents and they go into the game in their best form of the entire season, having recorded back-to-back triumphs for the first time since their double-winning campaign.

A fine win in Newcastle was followed by an equally impressive turning over of Gold Coast United thanks to an exceptional strike from teenager Dimitri Petratos and a last-gasp goal from Finnish signing Juho Makela on his home debut.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Victory were in New South Wales and they-ll be hoping for a similar outcome. A tough trip to Gosford to take on the high-flying Mariners looked as though it would result in quite the anticlimactic New Year for the men from Victoria, but it turned into a party in the end.

Trailing 1-0 in front of over 12,000 vociferous home fans, Victory amazingly snatched a win from the jaws of defeat thanks to two late late goals from Ferreira and Brebner. What Ernie Merrick-s side won-t be wanting though is a repeat of last week, when they were pummelled 4-1 at home to Adelaide - the first time they-ve failed to beat the South Australians in 11 games.

Can The Sky Blues serve up some much-needed revenge against their bitter rivals and keep themselves in with a chance of a remarkable ascent into the top six? Or will Victory go the entire season unbeaten against their longest-serving adversaries? Whatever the outcome, this is sure to be 90 minutes of hotly-contested, thrilling action played out in front of a fervent crowd.

There-ll be plenty of fans who have made the journey up from Victoria, and they will, as ever, be making loads of noise, so it-s up to The Cove to drown them out. Let-s make it a huge crowd at Sydney Football Stadium as these two old enemies go all out for the win.

Click here for tickets to see the Sydney Melbourne battle