Nowhere in the A-League this season have expectations proven more unfulfilled than these two clubs, with more on the line than just triumphing over one's rivals this time around
Grant, Beauchamp, Bosschaart, Jamieson
Emerton, McFlynn, Carle, Kisel,
Foschini, Luzardo, Franjic, Fabio
Rojas, Milligan, Jeggo, Kewell
At the beginning of the season, many would have thought this encounter would be a battle between two sides at the top end of the table.
Sydney FC had brought in Brett Emerton, while Melbourne Victory had brought home Harry Kewell – both current Socceroos. The hype was astounding.
No-one would have predicted what has happened since then, with both sides in real danger of missing out on the finals all together coming into Saturday's game at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Sydney FC sit seventh on the table, three points off sixth-placed Newcastle Jets. Melbourne Victory are one place down in eighth, but are eight points off the Jets and have just three matches to save their season.
Anything but a win for Victory in the latest instalment of 'The Big Blue' would see them miss out on the finals, while Sydney FC would be in grave danger of doing the same if they do not pick up a victory at home.
The last time these two sides met, on Australia Day, Melbourne Victory conceded a two-goal lead at AAMI Park to draw 2-2, with former Victory defender Sebastian Ryall scoring a late equaliser for the Sky Blues.
Incredibly, Victory suffered just their first loss at home all season on Saturday, losing 3-1 to Newcastle Jets.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC come into the game on the back of a heart-breaking 1-1 draw with Central Coast Mariners, with Troy Hearfield scoring a late equaliser to deny Sydney three vital points.
Melbourne Victory manager Jim Magilton is set to make several changes to his starting line-up, with Carlos Hernandez and Matthew Kemp missing through suspension. Regular left-back Fabio has been named after recovering from injury, and he could slot directly into the place left by Kemp.
Sydney FC counterpart Vitezslav Lavicka, has a full squad to pick from and will more than likely choose the same team that drew with the Mariners. Mark Bridge, however, has returned from injury.
A season-best crowd is expected to turn up at the SFS on Saturday, and they are sure to be treated to another exciting encounter between these two bitter rivals.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Melbourne Victory have not lost against Sydney FC since the 2010 A-League grand final - and that came after penalties.
- The loss against Newcastle on Saturday was Victory's lowest crowd of the season.
- The last three games between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory at the SFS have finished in draws - 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3.
- Melbourne Victory have not won at the SFS since 2007.
- Archie Thompson is without a goal in the A-League in eight games, his longest ever drought.