Preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
8:00pm AEST, Saturday August 7 at the Sydney Football Stadium
Date: Saturday August 7 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Head-to-head Played 18: Wins: Melbourne Victory 6, Sydney FC 4, Draws 8
Previous Meeting Melbourne Victory 1, Sydney FC 1, March 2010, Grand Final (Sydney won 4-2 on penalties)
History The recent history between these two teams couldn-t be any more significant. They fought each other tooth and nail for the Hyundai A-League premiership, with the title decided when Sydney prevailed 2-0 in the final game of the season. They then played off for the right to host the Grand Final in a two legged semi-final, with Melbourne prevailing 4-3 on aggregate.
However, Sydney got their revenge again in the Grand Final, with Mark Bridge scoring first before Adrian Leijer levelled just before full-time. The match went to penalties where Kevin Muscat and Marvin Angulo missed and Sydney claimed its first championship in four years.
Pre-season form: Sydney FC: July 31: Sydney FC 1, Blackburn 2, Sydney Football Stadium July 28: Sydney FC 0, Rangers 0, Sydney Football Stadium July 25: Sydney FC 3, AEK Athens 5, Sydney Football Stadium July 17: Sydney FC 2, Central Coast Mariners 2, Sydney Showground July 10: Sydney FC 0 Everton 1 - ANZ Stadium June 30: Marconi Stallions 1 Sydney FC 3, Marconi Stadium June 22: Macarthur Rams 0, Sydney FC 1, Campbelltown Stadium June 15: Manly United 1 Sydney FC 2, Cromer Park
Melbourne Victory: July 25: Central Coast Mariners 0, Melbourne Victory 0, Aurora Stadium, Launceston July 20: Melbourne Victory 2, Dandenong Thunder 1, Olympic Park July 16: Melbourne Victory 0, Boca Juniors 1, Etihad Stadium July 6: Melbourne Victory 2, Bentleigh Greens 1, Olympic Park
Match Committee Sydney head into this Grand final re-match with no injury concerns and a full list to pick from, which is a real bonus for boss Vitezslav Lavicka. While several key players in last year's side have left the club, including Simon Colosimo, John Aloisi, Steve Corica, Karol Kisel and Clint Bolton, Lavicka regains Kofi Danning from long-term injury, while Scott Jamieson, Liam Reddy and marquee man Nick Carle come in.
Melbourne have two players out through long-term injury, Matthew Kemp and Archie Thompson with Kemp expected back around October and Thompson out until December. Striker Robbie Kruse will miss this match through injury. Other than that Melbourne have a full squad to pick from, with goalkeeper Michael Petkovic the only likely debutant. Billy Celeski returns from a knee injury while Johnny Warren Medallist Carlos Hernandez is over a pre-season setback.
Danger men Nick Carle - The 2006-07 Johnny Warren Medallist returns to the A-League having spent the past three years trying his hand in Turkey and England. He comes back with a huge reputation and will be a key playmaker in the new-look Sydney side. Melbourne's experienced defence will know him well from his time with the Jets, and will hope to cut his influence out of the game.
Carlos Hernandez - With no Archie Thompson and no Robbie Kruse, Victory will rely heavily on the Costa Rican to not only create chances but score some as well in this match. He has lost 3kgs over the past month and is apparently fit as he has ever been at this stage of a season.
Where the game will be won Both sides know each other's game plans very well having played each other four times in a month late last season. Sydney will feel more at ease knowing that Thompson is out, meaning they can focus on putting physical pressure on the Victory's young strike force. However it is yet to be shown how Sydney's back four will perform without Colosimo.
Up the other end of the park, the Victory central defensive trio of Kevin Muscat, Adrian Leijer and Rody Vargas will be hoping to keep Mark Bridge and Alex Brosque quiet. The key for the Sky Blues could be the addition of the super fast and super skilful Danning back into the side and the threat Carle poses from long range.
It will be a fascinating battle between two sides who will be desperate to prove they are not a spent force. For Melbourne, who had a slow start to last season, they will be desperate to get at least a point out of this one and that may affect the way the game is played.
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Diogo FERREIRA, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER *three to be omitted*
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee), Matthew KEMP (knee)
Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL 3. Stephan KELLER, 5. Hayden FOXE, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 10. Nick CARLE, 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 13. Antony GOLEC, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN (c), 16. Terry ANTONIS, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT *five to be omitted*