On Thursday evening, all eyes will be on AAMI Park as Sydney FC clash with rivals Melbourne Victory in yet another Big Blue.
If this meeting is anything like the last one, you can expect drama, quality and a brilliant atmosphere from both sets of fans as the Australia Day contest writes another chapter to it’s evolving narrative.
Sydney FC come into this clash with work to do. In their last outing, they dominated Western United but were stung by a late Alessandro Diamanti wonder goal which sailed over Andrew Redmayne from 40 yards out.
For the Sky Blues, they are boosted with the form of Joe Lolley who returned to the squad and has been playing as if he hasn’t been away. Also on a lighter note for Sydney FC fans is Alex Wilkinson’s return to the squad which brings with it, leadership and experience after a groin injury ruled him out for the first half of the season. On Saturday afternoon, Wilkinson was back to his best, denying Western United any opportunity in and around the box.
In the last meeting at AAMI Park in The Big Blue, Sydney FC drew 2-2 in an instant classic after an 81st minute Bobo header cancelled out Victory’s lead. This fixture has brought with it the highest number of goals in Sydney FC history and you will be best placed to find another around the league which brings with it similar levels of passion and intensity.
Australia Day Big Blues in Melbourne bring with it excitement and one to pencil in the calendar but with international windows, and COVID-19, we have been starved of these fixtures, with the last one coming in 2019.
One of the best results in Sydney FC’s history came on Australia Day in 2014 when an Alessandro Del Piero brace compounded the misery on Victory in a 5-0 thrashing at Etihad Stadium in the scorching sunshine.
Victory come into this clash with Sydney FC sitting at the foot of the table, suffering defeat in Perth on Saturday night and yet to win a game since the 11th of December against Macarthur FC.
Tony Popovic’s side have lost four of their last five, with the sole exception being a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United. The going has been tough for the Victorians with a number of Football Australia imposed sanctions impacting the on-field performance which has seen them remain at the bottom of the Isuzu UTE A-League table.
Regardless of form, Victory and Sydney FC fixtures provide entertainment for fans and neutrals alike and Thursday evening will be another one in this famous rivalry.
One to Watch
Alex Wilkinson – Sydney FC
The Sydney FC captain returned to the side against Western United and had a massive impact from the start. Western United were restricted to shots from outside the area and Head Coach Steve Corica praised the returning centre-back in his post game press conference demonstrating the experience and leadership he brings to the team.
Having played in a fair few Big Blues, Alex Wilkinson knows what it is going to take for his Sky Blues to claim all three points in Victoria and if he were to make an appearance, it will be his 350th A-League match. Amazingly, Wilkinson has started 348 of his current 349 A-League appearances, a true leader.
Come Thursday, Wilkinson will pull on the arm-band in yet another Big Blue and you can expect another captains performance from him.
Josh Brillante – Melbourne Victory
Josh Brillante previously pulled on the colours of Sydney FC but now the Victory captain has switched allegiances and marshals his team-mates from the centre of the park. The centre midfielder got on the scoresheet in Perth, deflecting in Roderick Miranda’s spectacular volley which brought them level with the Western Australians.
Brillante and his Victory team-mates have been under fire in previous matches and fans of the Dark Blue will be looking to their captain to get them out of this rut of results. With over 250 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances, the midfielder has two goals already to his name, the first of which came in the pouring rain against Sydney FC in the first Big Blue of the season.
Come Thursday, Brillante will be looking to dominate the midfield and push his side to all three points.
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 14
Thursday 26th January 2023
AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC
Kick Off: 6:45pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+
Tickets: Click Here