A-League Preview: Sydney FC v Perth Glory
Sydney FC and Perth Glory will meet in Round 19 of the 2013-14 A-League season at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.
The game seems to have taken a back seat to all the shenanigans surrounding Sydney FC this week. With just two wins and a draw from their last 10 matches, it's no surprise the natives were getting restless at last week's clash with Adelaide. Armed with massive banners, the Sky Blues fans were demanding Frank Farina's head even before the club lost 3-0 to the Reds.
There was more drama to come, of course, as Farina banned Nicky Carle and Matt Thompson from training with the side, leading to a public face-off with the PFA. Carle and Thompson have since been allowed to train but Carle is out of this clash anyway with a groin injury.
Perth's form has been a little better than Sydney's, but only just. The Glory have won three and drawn two of their last 10 and are currently in the midst of a tough run of away trips where they play four of five games on the road. On top of taking on Heart in hot Albury conditions last week – a match that saw Glory concede a late David Williams' goal for a 2-1 loss – the Glory have had to return to Perth and then almost turn around once again for this clash in Sydney. Given Perth have only taken five points from nine away matches so far this season, this run of games could possibly make or break the club's campaign.
For Sydney, the big question is whether the players can put all the distractions behind them and return to the winner's list. If they get their heads in the right place, then Sydney should have too much firepower for Perth and potentially too much in defence as well, especially if Sasa Ognenovski features.
For Perth, the travel and heat factors look the main problem. Can the Glory players back up against Sydney, especially after apparently being put through a gruelling training session on Tuesday as well? Part of the Glory's problems stem from the conditioning of their players. Imports Darvydas Sernas and Nebojsa Marinkovic are yet to play a full game while marquee man William Gallas has played 90 minutes just once and star striker Shane Smeltz only twice since returning from injury. As a result, on top of consecutive trips east, the club is in the process of integrating players – Danny De Silva has also been added to the squad - into the team, leaving Kenny Lowe with plenty of issues to address.
This may not exactly be the game breaking duel but it certainly provides an interesting side story and a touch of Berlin, circa July 2006 as Gallas comes up against Alessandro Del Piero once more. Almost eight years ago, the two were on opposing sides in the World Cup Final. For Del Piero, he came on as a late substitute and helped Italy claim the win on penalties, while for Frenchman Gallas, it's probably a night to forget.
It's no secret Glory have struggled to score this season, the club tallying up just 18 goals from as many games. As a result, Lowe's spent considerable time this week looking at the team's movement into the forward third and why it's falling down. Yet one imagines this is still something of a work in progress and as a result Sydney should be able to defend effectively. With the Sky Blues also sure to be fired up after their week from hell, Perth may be up against it in an encounter that may go a long way towards deciding which of these clubs remain in finals contention.