Sydney FC return from the International Break with a massive clash in the run for finals as they welcome Western United to Allianz Stadium for the very first time. This is 6th versus 7th and the winner of this one will see the other move outside of the top six.
For the Sky Blues, despite the enormity of this clash on the table, they will also be celebrating Rhyan Grant on his 300th Sydney FC game, a record for the club as the boy from Canowindra becomes the first person to reach that milestone. Grant made his professional debut with Sydney FC in 2008 as a 17-year-old and has stayed with the club throughout his entire playing career.
Steve Corica’s men will still be reeling from a heavy Sydney Derby defeat last time out against Western Sydney Wanderers and will be looking to change their fortunes. That loss was the heaviest they have suffered at home since 2011 and must put the record straight if they want to have a hope of securing a place in finals.
They will be pleased to know that Adam Le Fondre and Max Burgess return to the squad for this clash after spending time on the sidelines for an injury and a suspension. Unfortunately, Paulo Retre misses this one after picking up too many yellow cards and will serve a one match suspension for this clash.
While Sydney FC have had two weeks to lick their wounds, they will be buoyed to see that Robert Mak found the net for Slovakia against Bosnia & Herzegovina during the International Break, his first international goal since March 2021. Mak was deployed as a number nine in Le Fondre’s absence and found the route to goal tough at points as he normally applies his trade as a winger.
Of slight concern to the Sky Blues will be their potency in front of goal, having only scored one goal in their last three games with that sole goal coming from Anthony Caceres in the Big Blue. Wellington Phoenix and the Wanderers both managed to keep the Sky Blues scoreless however they outscored the Kiwi’s on expected goals and were only 0.44 away from the Wanderers in the Derby. This proves that they are creating chances but failing to capitalise on those opportunities.
This Saturday they must take their chances when they come as the last meeting with Western United saw the same storyline as the Sky Blues wasted their opportunities in front of goal and were punished by an outrageous Alessandro Diamanti goal which was scored from close to 40 yards from goal.
Western United found the early season tough under John Aloisi however since the renewal of his contract, they have began to look like the side that lifted the Isuzu UTE A-League Championship trophy last season. They are coming off the back of a loss to Brisbane Roar in Redcliffe however they had won each of their last three prior to that.
The Green and Black have been finding the net on multiple occasions, sweeping aside Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets on a good run. Of slight concern to Aloisi though will be the fact that they are leaking goals. Western have failed to keep a clean sheet since the 21st of January when they played this weekend’s opponents in Hobart. Eight matches while conceding at least one goal will surely be of note to Steve Corica and Sydney FC.
This will be the third meeting between these two sides this year after Sydney FC won the first away fixture at AAMI Park back in October 3-1 with Adam Le Fondre and Joe Lolley getting on the scoresheet that afternoon. In this fixture, Sydney FC have never failed to score at home and will be boosted by the fact that Western United have not won their last three away matches against the Sky Blues.
Overall, Sydney FC hold the ascendancy in this clash, winning five, losing three and drawing the other one.
Ones to Watch
Rhyan Grant – Sydney FC
There’s not many people who summarise Sydney FC more than Rhyan Grant. Making his debut as a 17-year-old at Allianz Stadium in 2008, he has gone from strength to strength and will create Sydney FC history on Saturday by becoming the club’s first 300 game player.
The kid from Canowidra has made Sydney FC his home and is a recognisable name across the Isuzu UTE A-League scene. This season he has started every game that he was eligible for and has managed to nab a goal and an assist as well. Grant has created 17 chances this season and continues to maraud forward even late into matches.
He is always one of the last to stay out with the fans post game and will continue to do so for the remainder of his time with Sydney FC. Make sure you keep an eye on him this weekend as he notches up his 300th Sydney FC apperances.
Noah Botic – Western United
Noah Botic has been in fine form since scoring his inaugural goal against Adelaide United a month back and since then has rocketed to level first on the Western United goal-scoring charts behind Aleksander Prijovic. The 21-year-old was also away with the Australian U23’s as they recorded a 4-0 win over Como 1907 and found the net in Italy this week and may be fatigued as he returned late from Europe.
Botic found the going tough last season often playing second fiddle to the likes of Prijovic but his pace and technical ability has landed him a starting position in recent weeks as he now sits on 16 appearances for the season. The Sydney born youngster had a stint in Germany with Hoffenheim and now he is back in Australia is beginning to capture the hype that surrounded him when he departed for Germany.
Sydney FC v Western United
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 22
Saturday 1st April 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEDT
Gates Open: 4:45pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here