The A-League’s saga to get its three Victorian clubs out of coronavirus-hit Melbourne is poised to reach its conclusion.
Sydney FC will be welcomed back to Sydney by facing Melbourne Victory at the SCG in the Big Blue.
There is a tremendous atmosphere leading up to this game, as unlike recent seasons, the final Big Blue will be held with Sydney and Melbourne Victory only one point apart.
However, even if Sydney FC are to win this game, they still have to play Perth Glory before the end of the regular season, whereas Melbourne cruise home against the Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers – three games which they are expected to win.
As for the team with the better form, Melbourne Victory would have been ecstatic to beat Perth Glory, and they are probably the team with higher confidence going into this clash.
Sydney FC’s 3-1 win against Brisbane was all about one man: Siem de Jong.
Having come back from an extended stint on the sidelines, De Jong fired, hitting the post only for poacher Adam Le Fondre to tap it in with his left boot.
But De Jong wanted a goal, and after Brandon O’Neill played a diagonal pass to De Jong, he was suddenly behind the defence, but he took a forward touch and Jamie Young had the angle covered.
But De Jong, calm as ever, looked up and around as if he was looking for an option before calmly slotting it home from a near-impossible angle.
Sydney FC are very lucky to have De Jong already back in full flight this close to a Big Blue, and if he is on form, he could be what the Sky Blues need to beat Melbourne for the first time this season.
Another player to watch is Brandon O’Neill, who set up two of his side’s three goals.
It is likely that Josh Brillante will come in for Paulo Retre, De Jong will come in for Anthony Caceres, and Reza Ghoochannejhad will take Alex Brosque’s spot as false nine.
Predicted starting 11
GK: Andrew Redmayne
LB: Michael Zullo
CB: Alex Wilkinson
CB: Aaron Calver
RB: Rhyan Grant
CDM: Brandon O’Neill
CDM: Josh Brillante
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Siem de Jong
ST: Reza Ghoochannejhad
ST: Adam Le Fondre
Melbourne Victory welcome back Kenny Athiu and Anthony Lesiotis, while Raul Baena is still out with a hamstring injury.
Melbourne Victory will probably stick with the same starting 11 that beat Perth Glory, with Thomas Deng coming in for James Donachie and Corey Brown coming in for Leigh Broxham.
But whether they go with the same tactics is unknown.
They were happy to give Perth a lot of the possession, and they defended in numbers, often putting all 11 men behind the ball.
They then relied on the likes of Keisuke Honda, Ola Toivonen and Kosta Barbarouses to launch counter attacks, and it worked well.
However, different opponents need different strategies, and Kevin Muscat will mix things up.
Predicted starting 11
GK: Lawrence Thomas
LB: Corey Brown
CB: Georg Niedermeier
CB: Thomas Deng
RB: Storm Roux
CDM: Carl Valeri
LCM: Terry Antonis
RCM: Keisuke Honda
CAM: James Troisi
ST: Kosta Barbarouses
ST: Ola Toivonen
Predicted match result
This is going to be a close game, and midfield will decide the clash.
Although Melbourne Victory has the form, Sydney FC will have the home advantage, and it’s hard to choose a winner for this one.