Monday, January 10, 2011

A-League Round 23 - Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory - Preview

This Saturday (15/1/2011) sees another exciting chapter in the interstate rivalry between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. While Sydney FC are experiencing a “mini-revival” of sorts after notching two straight wins against Newcastle Jets and Gold Coast United, Melbourne Victory will be trying to restore some pride after being humiliated 4 – 1 at the hands of a ruthless Adelaide United.

The Sydney Football Stadium will prove to be the defining place for both these teams’ seasons. Anything but a win for the Sky Blues against their nemesis will see their “mathematical” chances of making the finals vanish, as will (perhaps) Vitezslav Lavicka’s position as coach. If Melbourne succumbs to a second loss in a row, Ernie Merrick and his team will be biting their nails as the likes Melbourne Heart and Wellington Phoenix will be breathing down their necks for the top sixth berth.

Entering the heat of the battle, nothing but best from each of these two team’s key players will be expected. Sydney’s creative force of sometimes Socceroo Nicky Carle will be crucial for the team’s chances as he provided the much needed creative spark that the Sky Blues so severely needed this season. While injury has hampered his chances of showing his true potential this season, a fully fit and fighting Carle could just be the remedy that the defending champions need to add some lustre in what is otherwise an immensely disappointing season for both club and fans.

Finnish import Juho Mäkelä will also look to add some firepower into a very limp Sydney attack. His extra time goal against the Gold Coast catapulted “the Surgeon” (as he is affectionately known by The Cove) into fan folklore and into the memories of fans alike, sealing a much needed win scoring the club’s 200th goal. Combined with Brazilian import Bruno Cazarine, perhaps this partnership is just what the Sky Blues need to save themselves from what is arguably the A-League’s worst title defence.

With charismatic leader and hardman Kevin Muscat suspended for this crucial meeting, defender Adrian Leijer out with a suspected groin injury and with Robbie Kruse out on Socceroos duty, the Victory will need to dig deep and muster a win to cement their position in the top six for the finals.

The Victory will once again turn to creative maestro Carlos Hernandez to launch the platform of a Melbourne assault at Moore Park. When the Costa Rican is at his best, everyone knows about it (particularly the score line). A mainstay to the Victory, “El Zorro” will need to dazzle his way through what has become a “stern” and “desperate” Sydney defence.

The return of Melbourne Victory’s favourite son Danny Allsopp has come at just the right time as an attacking front is exactly what the Victory are missing right now. If fed properly through the midfield, Allsopp can inflict great damage on any opponent and wouldn’t it be great to mark his return to the A-League with a goal in the Big City Derby?

So what will the next instalment of the Big City Derby bring? Who knows. Both teams are at a crucial stage in their seasons with a great importance riding on this game.

Nothing but a win for both sides will suffice.

By Marcel Abboud (Facebook Follower) A-League Correspondant