- The team news is in… Ninkovic, Noone and Nabbout are on the bench
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Last time they met
Today’s game, of course, is a rematch of last year’s A-League grand final at Bankwest Stadium. Sydney FC won on that occasion, thanks to Rhyan Grant’s extra-time goal scored with his nipple, no less. You can relive our match report from that night, right here.
Can Sydney FC defend their A-League title?Credit:Getty
That was the last time Sydney beat Melbourne City. They met twice this season – the first time, Melbourne City were all over them. They played some scintillating football to go 3-0 up at AAMI Park in February but conceded two second-half goals to make the scoreboard look a little nicer than how it felt. Here’s Lynchy’s match report.
The second time was at the glorious Leichhardt Oval in April. Sydney were probably the better side – I know because I watched this one from the hill, rather than the press box, for once – but they only got one goal from their dominance, and City struck back through Jamie Maclaren’s penalty in the eighth minute of added time, no less. Here’s how Lynchy saw that one.
Overall, Sydney has the edge in this fixture. They’ve won 13 of the 32 meetings to date, while City have won nine, and there’s been 10 draws. For my money, this is becoming a decent little A-League rivalry, between two clubs whose football departments and dressing-room cultures are close to faultless.
The team news is in… Ninkovic, Noone and Nabbout are on the bench
We’ve got today’s teams on hand, too, and the big news is newly-minted Johnny Warren medallist Milos Ninkovic has been named on the bench for Sydney FC – and so too have Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout for Melbourne City.
Ninkovic, Noone and Nabbout were all under significant injury clouds but have been passed fit to play, albeit as substitutes. Clearly that means they’re not 100 per cent but both teams will have some go-to attacking options if they’re chasing the game in the second half.
Otherwise there are no surprises – in fact, both teams are unchanged from their respective semi-final wins, and the full teamsheets are below. By way of reminder, Sydney beat Adelaide United to get here, while City beat Macarthur FC.
A reminder, too, of who’s not playing – City and Sydney both had three players called up for Socceroos duty earlier this month and because of quarantine requirements, those players won’t be involved – so that’s no Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good or Connor Metcalfe for Melbourne City, and no Andrew Redmayne, Rhyan Grant or Ryan McGowan for Sydney.
Four of them will be watching from a hotel room, but Metcalfe is somewhere in the Middle East ahead of the Olympics, and McGowan is in Scotland visiting family.
City are arguably hit the hardest – I humbly submit that Maclaren, Good and Metcalfe have been their best three players this season, in that order. That they’ve been able to reach the grand final without them is impressive and speaks volumes about their depth and the system coach Patrick Kisnorbo has put in place, with a little help from his predecessor Erick Mombaerts.
Hello and welcome!
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of tonight’s A-League grand final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC. It’s been an unbelievable season – quite possibly the best yet from a pure entertainment point-of-view – and we’ve got the right fixture to finish it off, with these two sides clearly the best in the competition all the way through.
I’m Vince Rugari and I’ll be steering our blog this afternoon, with some contributions from Michael Lynch, who’ll be on the ground at AAMI Park in Melbourne, and Dominic Bossi, who unfortunately is locked down at home in Sydney like me. At least we’ll have 90 minutes (maybe more) of quality A-League football to keep us ticking over.
We also want contributions from you! We’ve kicked off this blog early to give us enough time to field as many questions as we can from our readers on this match, the season overall and anything to do with football in Australia, really. There’s plenty to talk about, so don’t be shy – give us a shoutout in the comments box and I’ll endeavour to get to your messages before the game.
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