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Match preview: Wellington Phoenix vs Sydney FC

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22nd February, 2019
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Wellington Phoenix will take on Sydney FC in a ‘home’ game at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, which is ironically in Sydney.

Although Wellington will get all the extra money from the ticket sales, they will be selling most of those tickets to Sydney FC fans, and it seems like it will be another sky-blue crowd.

But even if Sydney will have home-crowd support, there’s no doubt they’ll be going into this game as underdogs. After dropping four points against the two lowest teams in the A-League, they will need to do more than bounce back. If they want to have any chance of winning the league, they need to make a statement this game. A scrappy 1-0 win won’t do it; Sydney will have to win by two goals or more to cement their push for another championship, and they can’t be scrappy goals or penalties. Sydney will have to deserve the win.

A while ago Perth beat Wellington 3-0, which was a statement to the whole league about how far advanced Tony Popovic was with his tactics and his players. That said, Wellington hasn’t exactly had a good last three games. First they travelled to Perth to cop a 3-0 thrashing, after which they didn’t manage to bounce back, with two draws against out-of-form Newcastle Jets and then Melbourne Victory.

These are two teams that both desperately need a win, but for different reasons.

Wellington Pheonix squad

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Unfortunately for the Pheonix, defensive rock Tom Doyle is out for another two weeks with a knee strain. Fortunately, however, they have great defensive depth, so the likes of Michal Kopczynski and Anthony Golec will be able to cover for him.

The strike partnership of David Williams and Roy Krishna has gotten better as the year has gone on, with Krishna scoring 12 times and assisting twice and Williams scoring six times. Together they have scored an astonishing 18 times, which is amazing for a strike partnership.

The team’s defence hasn’t been bad either, letting in only 26 goals this season. Filip Kurto has been amazing in goal, having made an astonishing 70 saves this season. Even if Wellington isn’t going into this game on the best of form, they definitely have the players to turn it around.

Predicted starting XI
GK: Filip Kurto
LCB: Michal Kopzcynski
CB: Andrew Durante
RCB: Steven Taylor
LWB: Liberato Cacace
CDM: Mandi Sosa
CDM: Alex Rufer
RWB: Louis Fenton
CAM: Sarpreet Singh
ST: David Williams
ST: Roy Krishna

Wellington Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix fans. (Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Sydney FC squad

Most Sydney FC fans will remember Wellington this season because of the unusual things that have happened every game. First of all, Wellington, who were massive underdogs pre-game, were up 3-0 at half-time, and the final match score was 3-1 to Wellington. Second of all, Sydney played Wellington in an ill-tempered game in which Siem de Jong got injured by Andrew Durante while taking a shot which went in.

There were also some bizarre decisions made by VAR. The first was an obvious handball inside the box by Louis Fenton denied by VAR. Then, with five minutes to go, Steven Taylor lost the ball and elbowed Michael Zullo in the face, and as Michael Zullo fell, Taylor felt contact and committed an obvious dive. It was then Andrew Redmayne’s wiggle-inspired heroics that got them the 1-0 win, so Sydney will be looking to get revenge on Wellington in this game.

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Daniel de Silva and Paulo Retre have been included in the squads, Retre not being picked against the Mariners and De Silva not being allowed to play due to the loan agreement. I think De Silva will come straight back in and that Reza Ghoochannejhad will make way for Alex Brosque after two poor starts.

Predicted starting XI
GK: Andrew Redmayne
LB: Michael Zullo
CB: Ben Warland
CB: Alex Wilkinson
RB: Rhyan Grant
CDM: Brandon O’Neill
CDM: Joshua Brillante
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Daniel De Silva
ST: Alex Brosque
ST: Adam Le Fondre

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Predicted match result

It will be a tricky match for both teams, with the key duels being the midfield pairing of Wellington’s Mandi Sosa and Alex Rufer coming up against Brandon O’Neill and Joshua Brillante. I predict that it will be a 1-1 draw, with David Williams getting the goal for Wellington and Milos Ninkovic for Sydney FC.