The Roar
The Roar


Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC: Match Analysis

Roar Pro
8th October, 2011
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Tonight’s city derby was a scrappy and aggressive end-to-end affair. Both sides eschewed any semblance of build-up play in favour of exchanging attacks down the flanks. Debutants Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell were obviously the focus pre-game, but after the 90 minutes, it was Kewell who had acquitted himself better.

Sydney’s System:
Lavicka deployed Sydney in a 4-2-3-1, ostensibly to accommodate their two marquee players, Carle and Emerton.

PM were able to correctly predict the back-four, which was a functional and effective unit. Bosschart and Beauchamp are very much rugged no-nonsense central defenders and neither was particularly exposed.

Lavicka’s choice for the double pivot in midfield was to partner McFlynn and Coyne, another two who fit the rugged/no-nonsense prototype.

Essentially, Lavicka deployed 4 reliable and physical defensive-minded players to congest the centre of the pitch, which allowed his two full-backs, Jamieson and Cole to scamper up and down the flanks in support of Emerton and Antonis with relative ease.

Bridge was preferred over Cazarine to lead the line, while Antonis was handed the right wing.

Victory’s System:
Durakovic also set the Victory out in a 4-2-3-1 system that preserved the strike partnership of Thompson and Allsopp while accommodating Kewell as the playmaker.

Fabio was the more attack-inclined of the navy blue fullbacks. Leijer and Vargas resumed their defensive partnership. Celeski was paired with Brebner in the double pivot.


Rojas was stationed out wide on the right; he acquitted himself very well. Thompson was used in a narrow inside forward position on the left.

Victory’s attacking trident was much more fluid than Sydney’s; Kewell more or less drifted where he pleased, looking to link with Thompson and Rojas out wide. Thompson drifted central, exchanging positions with Kewell.

Formations cancel eachother out:
When two similar formations come up against each other, games have a tendency to revolve around individual battles.

In this particular game, with both sides using combative central defenders and defensive midfielders to congest the centre, the most important battles transpired out wide, between the wide players/drifting playmakers and the fullbacks.

The balance of play was quite even.

Melbourne eventually settled into the contest better, and after half-time, it could be said that the Navy Blues had created the better scoring chances. Sheer class was the epithet bestowed on Harry Kewell by Craig Foster; when you’re right, you’re right.

Kewell was the difference; he was intelligent in his movement, and always seemed to be able to create an extra yard of space.


The lion’s share of scoring chances fell to his boot or head and it was last-ditch defensive work by the Sky Blues that denied him a debut goal.

Red Card:
The red card shifted the balance of the game in Victory’s favour.

Lavicka ordered his players to sit deep and defend. That it was Bridge, a forward, who was dismissed, meant that Sydney’s defensive shape was not compromised; the Sky Blues were still able to field two banks of four, with playmaker Nick Carle the furthest player forward.

A side going down to ten men also has implications for the opposition.

The strategy that would beat 11 men, may not work against 10 men who are intent on staying compact and sitting deep. The theory is simple for the team with a numerical advantage; stretch the effective playing area, pass the ball faster, switch play from flank to flank in order to prompt movement from the opposition.

Unfortunately, the Victory weren’t able to press their advantage. Their build-up play was ponderous and error-prone; perhaps due to a lack of match fitness or perhaps due to the fact that the previous 80-odd minutes were so devoid of short passing.

Durakovic exchanged Celeski for Broxham and Thompson for Cernak, both before Sydney’s red card, and both can be considered like-for-like swaps, except Cernak is more suitable out-wide than Thompson due to his pace.


His final change was swapping Allsopp for Solorzano, after Bridge’s dismissal, again a like-for-like swap.

Thompson’s substitution seemed to be prompted by the striker sustaining an injury.

There doesn’t seem to any similar justification for Broxham coming on. In truth, Durakovic’s options were limited, because of A-League regulations mandating that teams are only allowed to choose to from a 3-player bench.

The best way for Melbourne to try to snatch a win would have been to exchange one of the defensive midfielders; either Celeski or Brebner, for an extra wide-player, given that Sydney generally stood-off after going a man down.

Lavicka’s substitutions all occurred in the last 5 mins of regulation time, and were ostensibly to replace tired legs with fresher players, and to wind down the clock.

The City Derby was a scrappy affair. Undoubtedly, it had wider significance on the future of the A-League due to the debuts of Socceroos legends Kewell and Emerton. Victory and Sydney fans alike have to hope for improvement; the style of play offered up by both sides left little to be desired.

Player Rankings: Players ranked from 10-1, with GK inserted


10) Coyne – fairly anonymous
9) Antonis – started brightly before fading
8) Beauchamp – solid
7) Bosschart – too much reliance on long balls to relieve pressure
6) Bridge – silly red card; prior to that adequate
5) Jamieson – exploited space well, exposed by Rojas, McFlynn – imposed himself in midfield
4) Emerton – effective but not as dominant as expected
3) Carle – attacking conduit, influenced the game despite being closely marked
2) Reddy – denied Kewell a number of times
1) Cole – exploited space well

10) Vargas – fairly anonymous
9) Foschini – did not exploit space created
8) Celeski – fairly anonymous
7) Leijer – able in defence
6) Allsopp – poor first touch
5) Covic – nice penalty save, Fabio – decent defending against Emerton
4) Brebner – imposed himself physically, decent distribution
3) Rojas – tricky in close quarters, should have laid the ball off more
2) Thompson – hard runner, creative movement, dangerous positions, Solorzano – rapid movement, dangerous running
1) Kewell – showcased his class, always had space, dangerous positions, shots