Round 7 A-League action began with a reborn Wanderers at Spotless. It was followed by an impotent Sydney, an electric Victory and ended with a revitalised Newcastle.
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With the 2018-19 A-League season starting in under a week, it’s a good time to analyse one of the top teams, Sydney FC.
After last year’s spectacular FFA Cup result, which saw them lift the trophy, Sydney FC were undisputed favourites to become consecutive A-League champions.
Finishing at the top of the table during the regular season, things started to go downhill quickly, especially in their semi-final loss to Melbourne Victory.
The offseason saw eight players departing the Sky Blues: David Carney, Luke Wilkshire, Jordy Buijs, Antony Kalik, Bobo, Fabio Ferriera, Matt Simon and reigning Johnny Warren Medalist Adrian Mierzejewski.
Jop van der Linden, Daniel de Silva, Trent Buhagiar, Adam Le Fondre and Siem De Jong have been brought in to fill the gaps.
They are once again in the FFA Cup final, looking to defend their title against Adelaide United at the end of the month.
Despite losing a good chunk of their top players, Sydney still have redeeming aspects.
The midfield screen consisting of Josh Brilliante and Brandon O’Neill has been undoubtedly the best in the league for two seasons now and there is talk of them being future Socceroos.
There were also some decent pickups for Sydney. Buhagiar and Le Fondre will look to fill the gap that Mierzejewski and Bobo left, while van der Linden should bolster the defence. Although they are good acquisitions, De Silva and De Jong are likely to leave at the end of the next season, if not earlier.
A question for the Sky Blues to answer is how their normally solid defence, which conceded just 22 goals last regular season, will hold up with the departure of Buijs, who was possibly their best player in the back four last year.
This shows in their FFA Cup matches, where they have conceded in three out of the four they have played.
Losing Mierzejewski and Bobo also takes a critical attacking component out of play. Between them, they scored 40 of Sydney’s 64 goals last year and were directly involved in a few more.
It remains a doubt if they would have been such a force if they stayed on for another season, but their loss will be felt.
Top scorer: Bobo (27)
Top assists: Adrian Mierzejewski, Michael Zullo (9)
Most minutes: Andrew Redmayne (2550)
Most passes: Jordy Buijs (1627).
Goalkeepers: 1. Andrew Redmayne, 20. Alex Cisak, 30. Tom Heward-Belle
Defenders: 2. Aaron Calver, 3. Ben Warland, 4. Alex Wilkinson, 5. Jop van der Linden, 7. Michael Zullo, 8. Paulo Retre, 23. Rhyan Grant
Midfielders: 6. Joshua Brilliante, 13. Brandon O’Neill, 24. Cameron Devlin, 25. Joel King, Jerry Skotadis, Ryan Teague
Wingers: 10. Milos Ninkovic, 11. Daniel De Silva, 12. Trent Buhagiar, 14. Alex Brosque, 19. Chris Zuvela, 22. Siem De Jong
Strikers: 9. Adam Le Fondre, 21. Charles Lokolingoy
1. Andrew Redmayne
23. Rhyan Grant 4. Alex Wilkinson 5. Jop van der Linden 7. Michael Zullo
6. Josh Brilliante 13. Brandon O’Neill
12. Trent Buhagiar 10. Milos Ninkovic 22. Siem De Jong
9. Adam Le Fondre
Second. Despite losing most of their key players, it was overall a successful offseason for the Sky Blues. They will hope to keep this form going into the season