Tonight’s Big Blue promises to be the game of the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Season. The unbeaten league-leaders at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium to take on second-placed Victory in the Big Blue.
So, as you enjoy your Australia Day and prepare for this blockbuster, here’s your complete guide to the biggest-ever regular season Big Blue.
BIG BLUE PRIMER
BIG BLUE PREVIEW
WHAT HAVE THE PLAYERS BEEN SAYING?
WHAT HAVE THE COACHES BEEN SAYING?
WHAT’S BEEN SAID ON SOCIAL
TAKE THE BIG BLUE QUIZ
MATCH DETAILS AND SQUADS
Thursday, 26 January 2017
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Assistant Referee 1: David Walsh
Assistant Referee 2: Ashley Beecham
Fourth Official: Shaun Evans
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, 1116 SEN (Melbourne)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #BigBlue
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Marco ROJAS, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Max BEISTER, 10.James TROISI, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 23.Jai INGHAM, 40.Matt ACTON (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Jason GERIA (returns from suspension), 4.Nick ANSELL (promoted), 13.Oliver BOZANIC (promoted), 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH (returns from suspension)
Outs: 19.George HOWARD (omitted), 22.Stefan NIGRO (omitted)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jordy BUIJS, 6.Josh BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Aaron CALVER, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.George BLACKWOOD, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 25.Patrick FLOTTMANN
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Jordy BUIJS (promoted), 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted), 25.Patrick FLOTTMANN (promoted)
Outs: 23.Rhyan GRANT (suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 22.Sebastian RYALL (hamstring – indefinite)
BIG BLUE STATS
This rivalry dates back to the very first weekend of the Hyundai A-League back in the 2005/06 Season when the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.
And a draw has been the most popular result when Victory takes on the Sky Blues, with 18 of the 39 previous meetings ending all square.
Victory holds the edge when it comes to picking up the three points, beating Sydney FC 13 times and losing eight.
That record is even better for the Big V when it comes to clashes at Etihad, with Victory losing just three of 17 matches at the venue, winning seven and drawing the other seven.
There has been four previous clashes on Australia Day, with Victory winning two and losing just once, although that was an emphatic 5-0 result when Alessandro Del Piero scored a brace.
Victory has lost just one of the last 10 meetings between the two sides - that was earlier this season in a 2-1 defeat at Allianz Stadium.
The fixture averages 2.9 goals per match – 113 in 39 games – with Victory slightly in front scoring 60 to Sydney FC’s 53.
And there’s little separating the sides in the 2016/17 Season, with both finding the net 36 times from their 16 games.
It’s no surprise it’s the attacking quartets at both clubs that has done most of the damage.
Sydney’s front four of Alex Brosque (9), Bobo (7), Milos Ninkovic (7) and Filip Holosko (5) have combined for 28 goals, just ahead of Victory’s Besart Berisha (13), Marco Rojas (10), James Troisi (3) and Fahid Ben Khalfallah (1) with 27.
No player has provided as many assists (8) as Ninkovic, although Rojas is only one behind having played three less matches.
Interestingly, the Sky Blues have scored more goals away from their home ground than at Allianz Stadium.
Graham Arnold’s troops have found the net 21 times on the road, compared to Victory’s 12.
Shooting and passing
Sydney FC’s average possession of 47% is the eighth best in the Hyundai A-League.
Victory is slightly better in both those categories, with 51% average possession per match and a 77% passing accuracy.
Where Sydney has been excellent is when it comes to the key stat of passes into the final third.
Only Melbourne City (1049) is better than the Sky Blues 1047, with Victory way back with only 815 into the front third of the pitch.
When it comes to shooting, Sydney FC has taken 28 more shots at goal than Kevin Muscat’s side (222 to 194), although Victory is slightly more accurate with 49.3% on target compared to Sydney’s 47.4%.
And Victory’s 24% conversion rate is also more superior than the Sky Blues’ 18.8%.