Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory will meet in Round 5 of the 2013-14 A-League season at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, November 9 at 7.45pm AEDT
Bojic, Ryall, Petkovic, Warren
Carle, Emerton, Thompson
Chianese/Abbas, Del Piero, Garcia
Geria, Contreras, Leijer, Traore
Milligan, BroxhamThompson, Troisi, Nichols, Pain
Played: 27 - Wins: Sydney 6, Victory 9, Draws: 12
Sydney FC 1-1 Victory, March 16, 2013
Past five matches:
Sydney FC: LLLWL
It might only be four weeks into the season but already Sydney FC officials have had to come out and publicly back coach Frank Farina. Three straight losses has turned up the heat on everyone at the Sky Blues but talk of punting of the coach so early in the campaign seems to have become habit at the club in recent years. The question is, will the players dig in and fight for their boss or is the speculation and scrutiny weighing them down? A clash with the Victory will certainly answer that. There is good news for Sydney with skipper Alessandro Del Piero likely to come into the side after returning from his calf injury in the loss to Perth last weekend. Right-back Pedj Bojic (calf) should also be available after missing the last two games.
The Victory started life without coach Ange Postecoglou in good fashion, holding on for a 3-2 win over Wellington on Monday night to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. New boss Kevin Musact will be relieved to have started his tenure with a win and it seems the Victory's all-action attacking style will continue under the former Socceroos hard-man. Musact will have been happy to see Archie Thompson break his goal-scoring drought with his first of the season against the Phoenix which the Victory boss will hope is the start of things to come for the rest of the season. Victory enjoys the better of it in the history of the 'Big Blue' and came away with a win and draw from two clashes at Allianz Stadium last season.
The big issue:
Sydney – As Farina said before the season, Sydney fans don't demand success, they expect it. With just one win from four games, there's no doubt the pressure is building. In recent years Sky Blues players have worn that pressure like a noose, failing to cope with the expectation of fans and club officials. Unless they can embrace being at one of the most high-profile club's in the league, their performances will continue to suffer.
Victory – It was a perfect start to Muscat's reign but the true test for the rookie coach is really beginning now. While he has enjoyed a good apprenticeship over the last few years, there must still be some questions over how he will handle the week-to-week grind of being in the top job. Muscat certainly has the cattle to be successful this season but will need to pull the right strings from now on to turn that potential into points.
The game breaker:
James Troisi – Postecoglou achieved some great things with the Victory in his short stint at the helm but his greatest gift before moving on to the national team could well be the signing of the fringe Socceroos attacker. Troisi has shown some encouraging signs over the first month of the season, improving with every performance to now be one of the key weapons in an impressive attacking arsenal for the Victory side. His two-goals against the Phoenix take his tally to four from as many appearances this season.
Prediction: Sydney 2-3 Victory
There appears to be plenty of goals in this fixture, with 11 across the three clashes last season, and both sides are not exactly looking water-tight in defence over the first month. Sydney have looked particularly shaky at the back, so facing the likes of Archie Thompson, Troisi, Connor Pain and Mitch Nichols will be a huge test of their resolve. The return of Del Piero certainly helps the home side's cause but the Victory appear to have too much firepower, although they will be without Kosta Barbarouses due to New Zealand international duty.