ACL Match-day 1 – Preview
Yokohama F Marinos vs Sydney FC
Wednesday 19 February 2020
Kick off: 9:30pm (Sydney time)
The story of Yokohama’s exploits last seasons should be well known to many avid football fans in Australia, after Ange Postecoglou coached them to victory on the last day of the J-League season. Certainly this is a huge achievement for an Australian coach and so it seems only fitting that Australia’s premier coach should face off against Australia’s premier football team.
There’s not a lot of form to read into for Yokohama’s season so far. They lost the Japanese Super Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw, and then they beat Jeonbuk 1-2 in the first ACL matchday. One of the keys for us will be to take advantage of the fact that Yokohama are still likely to be working their way into the season, trying new things out and shaking off the pre-season rust. The fact that the ACL starts a few weeks earlier than usual makes this particularly important this season and really gives us a potential advantage.
I’d be lying if I said that I knew too much about Yokohama’s squad, but it looks like they haven’t lost many players from the team that took them to the title last season. However, their main goalkeeper throughout last season has been left out of the ACL squad. Based on the game against Jeonbuk, it looks like the goalkeeper who takes his place is a bit of a loose cannon, rushing out regularly when he didn’t have to. Similarly, there was some defensive play in that game which indicated that we might be gifted a few chances. The name of the game is clearly to take advantage of those while doing our best to keep tight at the back against one of Japan’s best attacking forces.
Due to the postponed derby, we have now gone almost 3 weeks without a game. The downside of this is that the players may have to spend the early part of the game shaking the rust off when really an early goal against an under-done team would probably be ideal. The upside is that the coaching staff has had a long period to prepare for this game and probably means that the players have been able to watch more video and really drill for their opposition.
In this game, we will of course be without Ninkovic. The Serbian has been left out of the squad and was typically gracious about it. At his age, it makes sense to leave him out and save him for the league campaign and finals. This means that Baumjohann (now back from Germany) shoulders most of the creative responsibility in the team. His best performances have come without Ninkovic on the pitch, however, and hopefully the fact that everything should be running through him means that the German playmaker can really benefit. One potential concern is that Baumjohann has now gone four weeks without a game due to his ban, so hopefully he gets back to game speed early on. I would expect that Caceres will take Ninkovic’s place out wide, as he is probably the closest option we have.
Otherwise, I’d expect us to go pretty much full-strength given the lead we have in the league and the fact that we are up against the Mariners on the weekend. It’s unclear how fit Zullo is, so I’d say that starting King makes the most sense, particularly given that it’s not always clear what the long flights will do to an injured player’s body. McGowan and Wilkinson are going to play a huge role in this game and we really need them both to be on top form in order to get anything out of this.
Given these things, I think we’ll line up like this:
These two clubs have never played
Sydney FC record against Japanese clubs
Wins: 0 (0%)
Draws: 4 (40%)
Losses: 6 (60%)
Sydney FC record in Japan
Wins: 0 (0%)
Draws: 2 (40%)
Losses: 3 (60%)
Biggest ACL Win – 3 goals (2 times):
24/04/07 – Sydney FC 3 – 0 Persik Kediri
03/04/18 – Suwon Bluewings 1 – 4 Sydney FC
Biggest ACL Loss – 4 goals:
21/05/19 – Sydney FC 0 – 4 Kawasaki Frontale
Most Appearances in ACL – Brandon O’Neill (17)*
Most Goals in ACL – Alex Brosque, Steve Corica (4)
- This game will be Rhyan Grant’s 17th ACL game, making him equal with Brandon O’Neill for most ACL games for the club. Grant’s first ACL appearance was in 2011 against Shanghai Shenhua.
- Ange Postecoglou has coached against Sydney FC 11 times while in charge of Brisbane and Melbourne. Sydney have a record of 2 wins, 2 draws and 7 losses against Postecoglou.
- Paulo Retre will be in line to play his 75th game for Sydney if he gets on the field.
Note: Appearances and goals only include league games, finals, FFA Cup, OFC and AFC Champions League and Club World Cup.