This Saturday’s A League ‘Sydney Derby’ has sold out. Sydney FC’s Sydney Football Stadium, (Allianz Stadium) will be packed to its 45,500 capacity, hosting the visiting Western Sydney Wanderers. The League’s biggest derby appears to be unaffected by the expected absence of marquee man Alessandro Del Piero.
Sydney FC kicked off their season with a convincing win over the misfiring Newcastle Jets (whom I tipped). The Italian was instrumental in that victory with the first goal and a typically special play making performance. Unfortunately for Sydney FC Del fell injured last weekend against Brisbane Roar, when one of his visits to the turf proved serious. Sydney went on to receive a 4-nil drubbing from Brisbane who were admittedly dominant before Del’s demise.
Just two games into the A League season and Western Sydney Wanderers have proven they remain hard to beat, but they’re scoring habits also have a whiff of familiarity. After recruiting recently capped Socceroo Tom Juric and Brendan Santalab to the club to shore up attacking options Wests are yet to set the world on fire. Juric was used as a substitute in the opening round against Central Coast Mariners and tied the match with his volleyed tap in. However, he was unable to repeat the dose at home to Wellington. This has Wests heading into the derby undefeated but also winless.
Stoking the fires of the derby was Western Sydney’s Jerome Polenz. The German import spoke on the likely absence of Alessandro Del Piero, “I think it will be better if Del Piero plays because my opinion is he’s not running a lot, so there would be more holes for us to go through . . . Of course he’s an outstanding player, but he’s also not working defensively so I think it would be better if he plays.” Meanwhile, Sydney FC youngster Joel Chianese was probed on the loss to Brisbane and the significance of Del Piero. Chianese said, “Whether he’s in the team or not, we need to play our best and the way the coach wants us to play – not how we played on Saturday. We’ll be better this week definitely.”
Chianese’s comments need to be backed up by his teammates this weekend, or things could once again turn ugly for the ‘Sky Blues’. Farina’s men looked lost last week, and Sydney can’t afford a repeat performance of the uninspired sit back-athon. This could well play into the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers, whose success last season was owed to their ability to counter attack. Along with that, Tony Popovic is now clear of Socceroos managerial speculation (Postecoglou confirmed as Socceroos manager).
Whatever eventuates we can rest assured their will be a magical atmosphere at the Sydney Football Stadium, marking another step in soccer’s incremental rise into Australian sporting relevance.