This review could have easily been titled ‘Are there any reasons to bet against Sydney FC?’ with the Sky Blues completely dominant across the A-League season. It seems strange to call Sydney’s brilliant season ‘boring’ but their dominance (and the Victory’s to a lesser extent) meant that this grand final match-up has for months seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Sydney progressed to the grand final courtesy of a dominant display against the Perth Glory. They have had barely a breath of trouble all season against Perth and across their four matches defeated them accumulatively 14-2. The Victory who entered their match against the Roar in poor form bounced back with an impressive 1-0 win, but whilst they were unlucky not to win by more, punters must take into account all of the variables that played in their favour. And there were many.
Firstly, the semi-final was the Roar’s seventh game in April, with an energy sapping elimination final against Western Sydney and trips to Asia to compete in the ACL. Secondly, the Roar were walking wounded with first choice keeper Michael Theo out with a knee injury and Jamie Young playing with a deep cut to his arm sustained in their midweek ACL clash. Matt McKay was returning from a knee injury and only played 60 minutes and Jack Hingert looked like the man in the iron mask returning from a fractured cheekbone. You get the picture.
3 Reasons the Sky Blues will defeat the Victory
- Losing only once this season, Sydney is the best team in the competition. Despite the Victory scoring the first goals against them in Round 5 and 17 the Sky Blues have had no trouble in winning their three matches against Melbourne.
- If we look at the three games played this season we see that Melbourne has shown their ability to play a high enough standard to defeat Sydney only once. For a 45 minute period in their first match the Victory were all over the Sky Blues and should have been 3-0 up at half-time. Besart Berisha missed a penalty and Marco Rojas a great chance with Mitch Austin the only player actually able to score. In their Australia Day clash the Victory looked uncomfortable all match and even when they scored first it was against the flow of play. They then imploded in the second half with Bernie Ibini scoring and James Donachie red-carded to lose 1-2 in Melbourne.
- Sydney has shown they are not overawed by the weight of expectation. Sydney lost only once this season and coming into the playoffs after they had secured the Premiership (top of the table) they were that far ahead you would expect a slight dip in form before the finals. The Sky Blues did not take their foot off the pedal winning 3 of their last 4 and drawing with an in-form Phoenix team in Wellington. Sydney’s best this season has been a win, but when they are off they have still been good enough to draw.
Can the Victory defeat the Sky Blues?
Of course they can. But it is unlikely. Whilst Melbourne returned to some form against the Roar they did not have to defend against many offensive threats. The Roar were largely toothless across the 90 minutes, but Alan Baro, Leigh Broxham, Jason Geria and Daniel Georgievski were superb in cutting off any attacks before they could mature. The Victory’s 1% efforts were many and spread across every member of the team.
If the Victory can maintain that defensive structure against Sydney they will go a long way to putting themselves in a winning position. The difference will be that Sydney will drive the ball harder down the wings through Rhyan Grant and this may expose the Victory as they change their shape to deal with those attacks. One thing we saw on Sunday evening was that Jason Geria is excellent in defence but he lacked the offensive creativity needed to create scoring opportunities.
Scoring early for the Victory is crucial, with Berisha, Rojas, Khalfallah and Troisi all looking ominous against Brisbane they still only managed to score once despite some good chances. Both teams have scored in 2/3 matches during the season with the third a bit of an anomaly because it was a very wet night.
Final Say: The Victory came out midweek and suggested that they did not fear Sydney and that the Sky Blues would be ‘scared’ after the Roar were knocked out of the finals. The Victory will need to be offensively and defensively perfect to even challenge for this grand final and it is arguable that they have only produced that level of football once this season (against Brisbane for about 30 minutes in round 15). Unless Sydney are wildly overawed by the occasion they will win the grand final.
Sydney FC at $1.75
Draw at $3.75
Melbourne Victory at $4.75
Previous games this season: 2-1 (Sydney – Round 5), 1-2 (Sydney – Round 17), 1-0 (Sydney – Round 22)
Tips And Preview from CrownBet.com.au. Read more about CrownBet HERE