Sydney's inaugural A-League derby is finally here, with all eyes trained on Parramatta Stadium on Saturday as the battle for city bragging rights kicks off
|By WILLIAM VALLELY
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Cole, Topor-Stanley, Beauchamp, D'Apuzzo
Polenz, Ono, Poljak, Mooy
Emerton, Ryall, McClenahan, Fabio
Abbas, Reid, McFlynn
Mallia, Del Piero, Lovrek
The much-anticipated Sydney derby is expected to be played in front of a sell-out crowd at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.
Despite both sides residing near the foot of the table, the interest created in the inaugural Sydney A-League derby is sure to lift both sets of players and fans.
Wanderers come into the Saturday's clash one point better off than Sydney FC, and with perhaps more acclaim than their city rivals.
Western Sydney's battling performances against Adelaide United and the Central Coast Mariners have gone some way into developing league-wide respect for the newly-formed outfit.
But Tony Popovic's men will need to work out how to find the back of the net if they are to overcome their much-fancied city-rivals.
Marquee signing Shinji Ono still looks rusty and Dino Kresinger is facing the selection axe after a poor performance against Adelaide United.
The Sky Blues' problem is not scoring goals, it is keeping them out.
Star man Alessandro Del Piero opened his account for his new side with a trademark free-kick against the Newcastle Jets last Saturday, and he will be the biggest threat to the clean sheet of Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic.
But Sydney FC have conceded five goals in two games - second behind Melbourne Victory for most in the league - and, with Adam Griffiths suffering a hamstring injury against the Jets, their problems look set to continue.
A potential ray of light for Sky Blues coach Ian Crook is the return of defender Pascal Bosschaart.
The Dutch defender has not played an A-League match for seven months due to an Achilles injury but may be thrown into the fray after completing 30 minutes for Sydney's National Youth League team last week.
Young Socceroo Reece Caira returns to the Wanderers squad, as does Jason Trifiro after he overcame an ankle injury. Both will be eyeing the chance to debut for the club.
Saturday's game is a classic contrast of free-flowing attack against stubborn defence.
If Sydney FC's makeshift defence can keep the Wanderers at bay, their attacking prowess should see them over the line in an exciting encounter.