Semi-Final preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
For the second time in 12 months, Sydney FC will host Melbourne Victory for a spot in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
And if history is anything to go by, Sunday night’s Big Blue Semi-Final at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (kicking off at 7:00pm AEST) will be choc-full of entertainment, drama and full-blooded passion.
It was Victory who prevailed at this stage last season on their way to a fourth Hyundai A-League championship, a defeat which really stung the runaway premiers Sydney FC.
While they won’t admit it publicly, Sydney FC players involved in that match – a 3-2 loss after extra-time – will be desperate for revenge in this one.
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Steve Corica’s side did have the luxury of resting last weekend but that has been offset by the club’s trip to South Korea for Tuesday night’s AFC Champions League clash with Ulsan Hyundai.
They’ll arrive back in Sydney on Thursday morning, giving them three full days to prepare for the cut-throat Semi-Final.
Victory are also in Korea for an ACL clash on Wednesday night but coach Kevin Muscat has left most of his stars at home as they are already unable to progress out of the group stage.
But any notion of fatigue being a potential factor in this one is unlikely to surface considering this is a fixture that always gets the adrenaline pumping.
Up until Sydney FC’s late 2-1 win over Victory in Round 24, it had been the Big V that had won the previous three between the two bitter rivals, including a 2-1 triumph in Kogarah early in the campaign.
The visitors showed why they are a genuine chance to go back-to-back in their performance to beat Wellington Phoenix 3-1 at AAMI Park last Friday night.
Imports Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen were brought to the club on big money and with big reputations to deliver at the business end of the season.
The pair did just that and will now have the Sky Blues in their sights.
But Sydney FC have a stack of match-winners of their own in their squad, with the likes of Adam Le Fondre, Milos Ninkovic, Siem de Jong and co. all capable of the spectacular.
With all those ingredients, this should be a ripper!
Key Opta stats
- 10 of the last 11 Hyundai A-League meetings between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have been won by one side after regular time; only in the 2016/17 Grand Final were they inseparable after 90 minutes in that span.
- The Sky Blues were defeated 3-2 by Melbourne Victory in their last Hyundai A-League finals fixture in Sydney (last year); they were previously unbeaten in nine such fixtures (W7, D2).
- Victory have a shot conversion rate (inc. blocks) of 15% this Hyundai A-League season, the highest of any team in the competition and four percentage points higher than Sydney FC (11%).
Ins and outs
Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 2.Aaron CALVER, 4.Alex WILKINSON, 6.Josh BRILLANTE, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8.Paulo RETRE, 9.Adam LE FONDRE, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Danny DE SILVA, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 16. Reza GHOOCHANNEJHAD, 17. Anthony CACERES, 18. Jacob TRATT, 20.Alex CISAK (gk), 22. Siem de JONG, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 25. Joel KING. **two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Aaron CALVER (promoted), 7. Michael ZULLO (return from injury), 8. Paulo RETRE (promoted), 14. Alex BROSQUE (return from injury), 17.Anthony CACERES (promoted), 22. Siem de JONG (promoted).
Outs: 5.Jop van der LINDEN (not selected), 21. Mitch AUSTIN (not selected), 24. Cam DEVLIN (not selected), 31. Luke IVANOVIC (not selected).
Unavailable: 3.Ben WARLAND (ACL - indefinite), 12. Trent BUHAGIAR (ACL – indefinite), 19. Chris ZUVELA (ACL – indefinite).
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Matthew ACTON (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Corey BROWN, 4.Keisuke HONDA, 5.Georg NIEDERMEIER, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Kenny ATHIU, 8.Terry ANTONIS, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI, 11.Ola TOIVONEN, 14.Thomas DENG, 15.Raul BAENA, 16.Joshua HOPE, 17.James DONACHIE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI, 24. Elvis KAMSOBA, 25.Anthony LESIOTIS **two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Corey BROWN (promoted), 10.James TROISI (return from injury)
How to watch
All Hyundai A-League 2019 Finals Series matches will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS, 10 Bold, Sky Sport NZ and MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers. You can also subscribe to Kayo Sports.
You won’t want to miss any of the action between the two Big Blue rivals so get your tickets for Netstrata Jubilee Stadium by clicking HERE.