Friday night’s contest between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will all but decide the battle for the Premier’s Plate.
The gap between the two is eight points so anything other than a win for Melbourne will cruel their chances of catching Sydney by the end of the regular season.
Both teams head into this off solid performances which has been the case the past two times they’ve met in 2016/17.
Sydney FC bounced back from their first defeat of the season to defeat Melbourne City 3-1 while the Victory had the matter well in control against Adelaide before conceding a late goal to eventually win 2-1.
It has been felt previously that Sydney FC’s vulnerability will be exposed by the Victory in the two times they’ve met already this season.
While that has been true to a certain extent, especially early on in their games, the Sky Blues held their nerve to win both matches 2-1. What’s more impressive is that they came from behind on both occasions.
That proves that although you can try to blow Sydney FC off the park early, as Melbourne City did last week, you need to punish them otherwise they will catch you unawares and put one or two goals in quick succession on you. Melbourne City found out that the hard way last week and after dominating possession and shots on goal early on, found themselves down 1-0.
THE TEAM MOST LIKELY
For the better part of the season it has seemed as though Melbourne Victory are the only team capable of stopping Sydney FC from winning the double – the Premiers’ Plate and Grand Final.
And both their performances against the Sky Blues has proven that but the problem is that they haven’t put them away. As a result, they gave up 1-0 leads at both Allianz and Etihad Stadium to drop both games 2-1. Using that, maybe ‘Melbourne Victory to Score First and Fail To Win’ paying $4.90 at Sportsbet does look an awfully tempting bet.
The Victory are back to playing some of their best football after suffering a three-game skid recently but go into this off the back of three wins and a draw in the past month.
Well prior to this season as was as though Victory was Sydney FC’s kryptonite.
The Melbournians had prevented Sydney from beating them for 10 straight games and that included the 3-0 Grand Final win in 2015. This season, however, Graham Arnold’s side has overcome their bogey with consecutive wins over Victory.
Besart Berisha, the league’s leading scorer with 17 for the season, strangely hasn’t been able to find the back of the net against Sydney in his past four games.
We are potentially looking at the 2017 Grand Finalists here.
Both sides have proved to be far and away the best in the competition and while their first two games proved to be highly entertaining encounters, this one may not quite live up to the hype of the first two.
The reason being is that Sydney has experienced showers all week and heavy rain is expected on Friday and into the weekend, so the surface at Allianz will be slippery at best.
Sydney and Melbourne are blessed with tremendous ball players like James Troisi, Marco Rojas, Milos Ninkovic and Filip Holosko, so with bad weather expected the wet conditions are likely to negate their impact on the game.
We can definitely see Under 2.5 goals scored in this one because most of the football is likely to be played in the middle of the park, so on that basis, the trilogy of Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory is likely to end in a stalemate.
The one thing playing in Sydney’s favour is that they experienced similar conditions at this very ground but still come out on top 3-1 over Wellington.
If you are looking for a reason to back the Sky Blues then it could be because Victory are nowhere near the team they are on the road as they are when playing at home. They are averaging just 1.5 goals per game on the road whereas at AAMI and Etihad they are averaging nearly double that.
THE TIP: DRAW
TOTAL GOALS OVER/UNDER 2.5: UNDER 2.5
1st GOALSCORER: BOBO – the Brazilian has been in fine form in recent weeks, bagging three goals in his past three games