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Is a sold out Sydney derby the spark that sets the A-League alight?

Roar Rookie
23rd November, 2023
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Roar Rookie
23rd November, 2023
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This Saturday night’s derby between Sydney FC – coming off a 5-1 “new coach bounce” victory over Adelaide United – against the impressive, undefeated top of the table Western Sydney Wanderers should be a cracking match at a sold out Allianz stadium.

Back in 2016 we saw 61,880 people turn out at Accor Stadium for the A-League’s record crowd, but in recent years spectators have not been anywhere near that. Most of Sydney FC’s 20,000 members and many of the casual fans should be out in force on Saturday night, but will Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans and the Red and Black Bloc turn up in big numbers?

Some of these fans still feel aggrieved at the management of both the A-League and Wanderers for various reasons and are not attending Western Sydney’s games, with crowd numbers well down in recent years.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ Lachlan Brook celebrates a goal with team mates. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Before the addition of Western Sydney Wanders to the A-League in 2012, the biggest match and biggest crowds were for “The Big Blue” between Melbourne Victory versus Sydney FC, especially when it was played in Melbourne.

Victory had the most members and got the biggest crowds. In a similar vein to Wanderers, Victory crowds are down with fans disgruntled with both their club’s and the A-Leagues’ administration, coming to a head last year with that infamous pitch invasion and violence from some of Melbourne Victory’s so-called fans.

After three losses in a row against Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar, and Melbourne City, conceding seven goals without scoring to start the season, Sydney FC’s management sacked Steve Corica and brought back former Sydney assistant coach and former Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay.

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This immediately had the desired effect, a 5-1 victory over Adelaide United, although Adelaide were without suspended wunderkind Nestory Irankunda. Up until that match Adelaide were undefeated, scoring ten and conceding just once.

Joe Lolley has consistently been Sydney’s best player in every match so far season and he had a fantastic game against Adelaide with two goals and two assists. Sydney’s 21 year old forward Jaiden Kucharski scored a well-taken brace. Sydney FC also welcome back defender Jordan Courtney Perkins from Olyroos duties in Saudi Arabia.

Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant celebrates in front of the Wanderers bench at full-time of the 2023 Elimination Final. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Western Sydney Wanders have started their season with a scoreless draw with Wellington Phoenix at home, followed by an impressive 5-0 home win over Western United, a 2-2 draw away at Newcastle Jets and a 2-0 win over Perth Glory at home. The always dangerous Brandon Borello, back from national team duty, is yet to score but has two assists to his name. WSW have had seven different players on the scoresheet, with Lachie Brook – back from recently scoring for the Olyroos – and Nicholas Milanovic with two goals each.

Marko Rudan and Ufuk Talay were teammates at Sydney FC for two seasons, they were roommates, and are great mates. At a press conference earlier today Rudan had this to say: “We’re not going to stop playing our game. We’re going to come here and attack. We’re playing differently than last year as well and we want to put teams on the back foot and go at teams and nothing’s going to change irrespective of the opposition and where we’re playing.”

Talay said: “We’ve come off a great win against Adelaide and there was a good two weeks to build on that and I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s another game for us, it’s a derby, and I think it keeps the players focused leading into this game.”

Last season saw both teams win two matches each, with both teams unusually winning away from home. In this 36th Sydney Derby will Sydney FC continue their new coach bounce, or will Western Sydney Wanderers maintain their unbeaten streak and stay at the top of the table?

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