Big Blue battle lines re-drawn

The rivalry that dates back to the birth of the Isuzu UTE A-League re-ignites at Allianz Stadium when Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory do battle in the 62nd Big Blue.

This is the fixture that means so much as the two biggest clubs in the country do battle for 90 minutes while both sets of supporters sing their heart out, creating one of the best atmospheres in Australian sport.

Regardless of form coming into the fixture, both teams want to win it just as much as the other and both are just as capable of claiming maximum points on the day.

So far this season, between both, each have won a game apiece. The third and possibly final meeting this campaign will be the decider and has a lot weighing on it as Melbourne Victory look to make a late charge into the finals and Sydney FC look to maintain their position in the top half.

Last weekend, Sydney FC had their un-beaten run ended at the hands of Melbourne City at AAMI Park, going down in a tight encounter 3-2, with goals to Robert Mak and Diego Caballo not enough in the end. The Sky Blues created a number of chances in and around the area and were unlucky not to get something out of the game, with individual errors costing them dearly.

The opening game of the season

Prior to this, Sydney FC appeared to get their fire back, winning three in a row and snatching a late point against Brisbane to make it four games un-beaten. They started that run on the 26th of January against Melbourne Victory and will be hoping to re-find that momentum once again this weekend.

Adam Le Fondre is still sidelined with a hamstring strain and goal scorer Robert Mak led the line last week in a front three containing Max Burgess, Joe Lolley and himself. Steve Corica has a few decisions on his hands though with the likes of Alex Parsons putting in consistent performances from the bench and Jaiden Kucharski looking lively during his cameo at AAMI Park last week.

For the visitors, hope appeared lost as they sat at the foot of the table for a prolonged period and struggled to get results. An impressive January transfer window has seen them rekindle some of the form they are known for and this culminated in a Melbourne Derby victory over Melbourne City.

Last week, Tony Popovic’s side were pegged back by a late Nesteroy Irankunda wonder strike, cancelling out Bruno Fornaroli’s controversial penalty which was awarded after consultation of VAR. Prior to this, it appeared that Victory wouldn’t be able to find a way through with Paul Izzo making a number of key stops to keep Adelaide United at bay.

Max Burgess scored the opener last time out

Victory have been struggling for consistency this season, beating City but then drawing with Adelaide after a win over Wellington and a loss to Newcastle Jets. Of concern to them will be their mounting injury crisis with Jake Brimmer added to the list along with Luis Nani who tore his ACL. Brimmer limped off before half time in the Original Rivalry last weekend and scans have confirmed that he has torn his meniscus, sidelining him for a number of weeks.

With both sides looking to kick on their seasons with a win, what is normally a feisty affair will be heightened with extra tension. The Big Blue is always a brilliant spectacle and this weekend it returns.

Of extra special significance, both teams will be competing for the Beyond Blue Cup, part of a new tradition amongst the two teams. Beyond Blue make a huge difference in the mental health space. For more information on Beyond Blue and how they can help, please Click Here.

Ones to Watch

Robert Mak – Sydney FC

Robert Mak

The Slovakian attacker has been performing really well in his first season Down Under. Five goals and one assist to his name so far, the former Ferencvaros player is only one goal away from sitting equal at the top of the Sydney FC goal-scoring charts with Adam Le Fondre. Robert Mak made Sydney FC history when he scored the first goal in the refurbished Allianz Stadium in the previous Big Blue during the opening round of the season and he will be hoping to do the same this weekend in the repeat fixture.

After overcoming tightness last weekend, Mak started in the number nine role and got on the scoresheet after being fed a great ball from Joe Lolley to put him through on goal. He dispatched the chance with aplomb demonstrating his potency when given a chance. The Slovak is a constant threat to defenders in the wide areas and will pop up with a chance at goal throughout the contest.

Bruno Fornaroli – Melbourne Victory

Bruno Fornaroli

Bruno Fornaroli made history in the Melbourne Derby by becoming the first player to score for both Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the showpiece fixture. He joined Victory halfway through the season after a falling out with his previous employers, Perth Glory. Returning to the city where he had so much success with Melbourne City, Fornaroli has netted four times for Victory, two from the penalty spot and the others from picking up scraps in and around the box.

He knows his way to goal as can be seen with his brilliant Isuzu UTE A-League goalscoring record that saw him score 96 goals in Australia so far. With the arrival of Bruce Kamau at Victory as well, Fornaroli has stepped up in recent weeks, netting in back-to-back games for the first time after dispatching his penalty against Adelaide United last week.

Across his career, Fornaroli has scored seven goals against the Sky Blues, however he has only been on the winning side two times, losing nine and drawing the others. Expect Fornaroli to revel in the Big Blue atmosphere and be involved in some way shape or form.

Match Details

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 19
Saturday 4th March 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEDT
Gates Open: 6:45pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here