Hyundai A-League Major Semi-Final Second Leg Preview- Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Sydney FC may have lost to Melbourne Victory for the first time this season in the Major Semi-Final first leg a fortnight ago, but a crucial away goal and a greater amount of preparation time means that they will be widely fancied to overcome that deficit and book a place in the Grand Final on Sunday. While Vitezslav Lavicka’s men enjoyed some much-needed rest before returning to full training late last week, Victory were forced to make the long trip to China for an Asian Champions League date with Beijing Guoan. The reigning premiers have also been hit by an ever-lengthening injury list, with strike duo Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse both regarded as doubtful for the trip to Sydney and fellow-frontman Nik Mrdja unavailable through suspension after receiving his marching orders in the first leg.
With the exception of Rhyan Grant who has been ruled out by a serious ankle injury, the Sydney treatment room has been relatively quiet this week, although with no fewer than five players on duty with the Socceroos in midweek, the Sky Blues’ preparations could yet be severely disrupted. One man overlooked by Pim Verbeek for the Indonesia game was John Aloisi, but the former Coventry City striker was outstanding in the first leg and his battle with Kevin Muscat could go a long way to deciding which of these bitter rivals prevails.
Given the traditionally feisty nature of these games, the referee will also have a key role to play and it will be something of a surprise if both sides manage to finish the game with their full complement of players.
Victory’s chances could really hinge on whether Thompson and Kruse pull up fit because without them and the suspended Mrdja, Ernie Merrick’s side look shorn of a cutting edge. Even if either or both do feature in the starting eleven, they are unlikely to be firing on all cylinders and that may be enough to tip the balance in favour of the men from the Harbour City. Sydney to squeak through on away goals.