This week the 2018-19 edition of the W-League commenced with a classic Sydney derby, played in front of 1500 fans at Marconi Stadium.
Sydney derbies are always spicy, but this game had a bit of extra heat to it, with several former teammates playing against each other for the first time.
In the first ten minutes of the game, both teams looked likely to score with Lisa de Vanna, Leena Khamis and Caitlin Foord all having shots at goal, but it was Sydney FC that drew first blood through Foord in the 13th minute after she caught Jada Whyman off her line.
The next goal came in the 60th minute via Chloe Logarzo and this was followed by a second goal to Foord in the 76th minute.
With that 3-0 victory, Sydney FC have won six out of seven derbies.
It was a disappointing evening for the Wanderers, but given that they are a team with plenty of new faces, it may take a couple of weeks before we see what this team is truly capable of.
But what about the rest of the teams competing in the W-League?
The Perth Glory will be looking to bounce back this season after a disappointing end to last season. Despite leading the competition in mid-December with four wins, Glory had a sensational collapse, lost the remainder of their games and missed the Finals completely.
This is a squad with some real talent including the likes of Sam Kerr (who scored 13 goals last year) and Rachel Hill from the Orlando Pride, but mixed in with this experience are also several younger players who will need to step up during the season. The challenge for the Glory this season will be defence and they seem to have no trouble scoring goals.
For fans of the Melbourne Victory, most players in the squad will be very familiar, with most signings being the re-signing of players already at the club. It will be interesting to see whether the squad will continue to improve.
After two seasons with the wooden spoon, the squad finished seventh last year and with some new signings like Grace Maher from Canberra United, Emily Gielnik from Brisbane Roar and Teigen Allen from Sydney FC, perhaps we’ll see an improvement for the Victory this year.
There were a lot of changes at Canberra United last season, so hopefully the key word for this coming season will be stability. Over the off-season, United have lost both their co-captains in Ashleigh Sykes and Michelle Heyman. They are also losing Grace Maher and will not be welcoming back any of their internationals from last year.
Rachel Corsie has been named the new captain and she will be joined by other new players Refiloe Jane, Rhoda Mulaudzi and Denise O’Sullivan. There’s no doubt that there is some quality in this side, but how quickly they come together as a team will be the key.
Adelaide United finished last year with the wooden spoon, despite some memorable victories including over the Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory. Despite some key departures at the end of last season, including Alex Chidiac and Jenna McCormick, there are also some new faces to get excited about, including Heyman from Canberra and two Icelandic internationals – Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir and Fanndís Friðriksdóttir.
Hopefully the addition of these players will help Adelaide overcome one of their key difficulties from last year, which was scoring goals.
Then there are the reigning premiers – the Brisbane Roar. The Roar almost had the opposite problem to Glory – they only scored 21 goals throughout the season, but only conceded 12. There have been some key departures including Emily Gielnik, Tameka Butt and Amy Chapman but apart from that, the majority of their squad from last year has been retained. Is it too early to tip a Roar versus Jets grand final?
If you can say anything about Melbourne City, it is that they are consistent. For the last two seasons, they have finished fourth. Losses for this team include Larissa Crummer and Jess Fishlock, while Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Butt join City for this season.
One of City’s key strengths is that this is a tight-knit squad that knows how to play well together. After re-signing plenty of key talent, it’s also worth noting that Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, Lauren Barnes and Theresa Nielsen have spent the off-season playing together in the United States. With five Matildas in this squad too, I expect them to be dangerous this season.
Last year, the Newcastle Jets played finals football for the first time and will be looking to repeat that this time around. Their defence will be even stronger with the addition of Larissa Krummer and she will be crucial to the Jets’ year.
This is the 11th year of the competition and with seven broadcast partners covering the football, hopefully this means increasing exposure for the competition – something that is increasingly relevant given the national interest in the Matildas at the moment and the recognisable faces which many Australians have come to love and admire.
For the first time in W-League history, YouTube and Twitter will be broadcasting games, joining other broadcasters in bringing the W-League to as many eyes as possible. At least one match a week will be shown on Fox Sports and SBS Viceland will show 14 regular matches throughout the season.
When it comes to women’s sport, we all know the importance of the broadcast, but equally important is getting your bum on a seat. So if a W-League game is happening near you, I encourage you to get out there and watch. With some of our favourite Matildas competing, you are bound to see some quality football and also be supporting the continued growth of women’s football in Australia.