It all comes down to this as the Liberty A-League Finals Series gets underway this weekend and Sydney FC will be looking to make their way to another Grand Final. Their opponents standing in the way is second place Western United. The winner moves onto the Grand Final, the loser must go the long way round if they want to achieve glory.
After losing the last two Grand Finals at home, Sydney FC will be wanting to make amends this season but to get there, they must navigate the Semi-Final at Allianz Stadium this Sunday.
Coming into this clash, after struggling with injuries and suspensions, the Sky Blues fell to defeat at Wellington Phoenix before dropping points at Melbourne City. Since then, they have been back to their flowing best, scoring eleven goals in three matches and beating Adelaide United, Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets.
This season, they have really loved playing at Allianz Stadium having won all matches played there and not conceding a goal in the process. Regardless of venue, when playing within Sydney, the Sky Blues have won every match under Ante Juric with the only exception being the loss to Wellington Phoenix at Kogarah while severely undermanned.
Finishing the season on eight goals, Madison Haley had a brilliant first stint Down Under but will rue her injuries which set her back on numerous occasions. On the goalscoring front, while Western United’s Hannah Keane won the Golden Boot with 13 goals, the Sky Blues occupied four of the top nine positions on the table with Cortnee Vine, Princess Ibini and Mackenzie Hawkesby all registering six or more goals. Cortnee Vine had a season to remember after topping the assist column with eight and earning her a position in the starting XI of the Matildas.
The only concern for Sydney FC fans will be Vine’s fitness after she limped off in the Matilda’s 2-0 victory over England on Wednesday morning, however she returned to Australia and trained on Friday evening. Charlotte McLean also returned to training this week and will be itching to get back out there after she was left with a broken cheekbone in the last meeting between these two sides.
Western United haven’t quite managed to hit the heights of their early season form which saw them surge to the top of the table and win seven games in a row. They have lost two and won two of the last four matches however and come into this one looking to experience victory in Sydney for the first time in their short history.
Before the International Break, they managed to hold on against Western Sydney Wanderers at home, to push Sydney FC the distance in the Premiers Plate race. Hannah Keane nabbed two goals that afternoon to earn her the Golden Boot for the season and Western United second place on the ladder.
Western in their inaugural season in the competition performed well and finished much higher than many expected. They managed to score the second most goals and concede the second least behind Sydney FC and bizarrely didn’t draw one match.
In the previous meeting between these two sides, Sydney FC flexed their muscles and had a second half blitz in a 3-0 victory to the Sky Blues. Two goals to Rachel Lowe and one to Princess Ibini was enough in the title decider however the game was marred late on by some drama after Nat Tobin was shown a red card for an innocuous challenge and then from the resulting free-kick, Charlotte McLean broke her cheekbone and Jada Whyman was left concussed.
The only other meeting between these two came in Melbourne with hosts United coming away with a 2-0 victory in some blustery conditions. This time around, at Allianz Stadium, it will be a totally different 90 minutes.
As this is a Semi-Final, a winner must be found on the day with two 15 minute periods of Extra Time to be played should scores be level at the end of the 90. If scores are still level after the additional 30 minutes of extra time, then penalties will decide the contest, best out of five and then sudden death.
It promises to be a riveting afternoon of football at Allianz Stadium, with a place in the Grand Final up for grabs!
Sydney FC v Western United
Liberty A-League Semi Final
Sunday 16th April 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 5:45pm AEST
Gates Open: 2:00pm AEST
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Play
Tickets: Click Here