The A-League season came to a close on Sunday night, with Sydney FC claiming the championship with a penalty shootout victory over Perth Glory.
It’s that time of year again, the beginning of another Asian Champions League campaign and after an embarrassing group stage exit last year, Sydney will surely have a point to prove and will be hoping to go on and win the whole thing.
This is, after all, the one trophy that has eluded Sydney over the course of their fourteen-year existence. Over this time they have managed to win three championships, three premierships, one FFA Cup and the Oceanian Champions League, but the continental title for Asia has never been even within touching distance for the Sky Blues.
Fans will want Sydney to give it their best go, as it’s the one thing that crosstown rivals Western Sydney Wanderers have over them, having achieved this feat in 2014.
First up for Sydney is South Korean outfit Ulsan Hyundai, who compete in the K League and most recently defeated Suwon Bluewings 2-1 in their opening match of the season. Ulsan Hyundai are no strangers to this competition, having been in the same group as Melbourne Victory last year.
The games that the two clubs played against each other were anything but cagey affairs, with the first being a 3-3 draw in Melbourne and then Ulsan winning the second game 6-2.
Sydney are no strangers to this competition either but have had little success in this competition as of late. Many expected Sydney to go all the way last year after the club achieved success domestically both in terms of the quality of football and also in terms of statistics.
But how will Steve Corica fair? There’s no arguing that this current Sydney squad is not of the same quality as last year’s team. This side has been plagued with injuries and doesn’t play the same attacking football as they did during Arnie’s time at the club.
Corica has very rarely changed his team over the course of the season and has only made a drastic switch when injuries have required him to and there will be more of the same for this week’s Champions League match.
Andrew Redmayne, Rhyan Grant, Alex Wilkinson, Ben Warland, Michael Zullo, Joshua Brilliante, Brandon O’Neill, Milos Ninkovic, Anthony Caceres, Adam Le Fondre, Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Score prediction: 1-0
Corica’s Sydney plays quite defensive football and most of their games have been cagey affairs. They have a plethora of attacking options at their disposal but can barely seem to find the net. Tomorrow’s game will be no different and Sydney should see out the game 1-0 with Adam Le Fondre scoring a penalty in the second half.
Ulsan Hyundai won’t go down without a fight but the home advantage should get Sydney over the line.