A-League Round 7 – Preview
Western United vs Sydney FC
Sunday 1 December 2019
Kick off: 4:00pm
It has been a long time since we last played a league fixture against a completely new club, but one of the most exciting things about this season is the fresh feeling that comes with expansion. Western United have been a real breath of fresh air on the field, even if that hasn’t quite converted to off the field success just yet. Their crowds have been underwhelming (though perhaps not surprising), but their mid-table position shows that they have at least been competitive.
Throughout the opening games, Mark Rudan has largely stuck with a similar line-up across each game, meaning that their line-up for tomorrow’s game will be fairly predictable. Midfield is where this team truly shines, with some experienced imports providing a great passing game. Diamanti has been a true stand-out this season, spraying pin-point passes and generally controlling the play from the centre of the park. Jertec and Kone have also been impressive, even if not as flashy as Diamanti.
Up front, Berisha has returned to the league and, even if he did seem to have a bit of a falling-out with Rudan last week after being subbed off, it is likely that he will start here. McDonald, finally returning to Australia, has been partnering him up front and, while not prolific, he has provided a second outlet for that team. It is not the fastest attack, however, with Pain providing the only real burst of pace out wide.
The biggest opportunity for us will be to use our pace to try to get behind this defence. Durante and Gulum are both aging and even the younger options like Calver aren’t the quickest. Similarly, their full-backs haven’t got a lot of pace and are often playing higher up the park. This will be a big opportunity for Barbarouses and Buhagiar (off the bench) to run at the defence, or for us to try to cut the defence with through-balls from Baumjohann and Ninkovic.
On our end, we once again have a full squad available. Given the defensive problems that Western United have been facing, Zullo and Grant are going to play a key role in creating those gaps in defence for our faster players to attack. Similarly, Central Coast showed last week that the best way to deal with Western United is to pass the ball around a lot and tire out their older players, before hitting them with pace. Given that Brattan and O’Neill have started to develop a very decent partnership, I fully anticipate that we will try to pass them to death in midfield.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Buhagiar coming on earlier than he has been, as this is a great team for him to face. While Caceres does provide more technical ability, bringing Buhagiar on in the final 30 minutes against a tired, aging defence, should be enough to frighten Western United into sitting deeper and making mistakes.
I predict we will line up like this:
This game is The Cove’s National Service trip. For those who are in Geelong for the game, and for those watching back in Sydney, you can find event details here:
- Sydney FC have not kept a clean sheet in the last 8 games. The last clean sheet was the Grand Final against Perth Glory.
- Milos Ninkovic only needs 1 goal to overtake Steve Corica as the third highest Sydney FC goalscorer. Both are currently tied on 30 goals, narrowly ahead of Adam Le Fondre’s tally of 28.
- This will be the 48th stadium that Sydney FC have played a competitive game in. Optus Stadium in Perth was the previous new addition to this list.
Note: Appearances and goals only include league games, finals, FFA Cup, OFC and AFC Champions League and Club World Cup.