Wednesday, 10 April 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Sydney FC 3-3 Shanghai SIPG (Asian Champions League)

Sydney came agonisingly close to their first home win in the Asian Champions League for 3 years, but alas ended up with only a point after a thrilling 90 minutes at Jubilee Stadium.

Siem de Jong put Sydney ahead in the opening minutes of the game, with a lucky deflection getting his effort past the Shanghai goalkeeper.

Shanghai equalised 20 minutes later with Brazilian star Oscar getting an assist with a very good ball into the box which was headed home unmarked.

Danny De Silva won Sydney a penalty not long after, and Adam le Fondre thumped home his penalty to give Sydney the lead yet again.

However, yet again, Sydney left a Red shirt completely unmarked for the visitors to equalise yet again.

In the final 10 minutes, Reza Ghoochannejhad's goalbound effort was saved, but only for the ball to fall fortuitously for captain Alex Brosque to tap home.

It looked for all the world like Sydney would get their first win of the 2019 campaign, only for Josh Brillante to fall over in possession and have Shanghai score off the back of his mistake. Heartbreaking.

But what did we learn from tonight?

1) All you had to do was nothing stupid

Unfortunately, Joshua Brillante's cock-up is just another addition to his string of cock-ups from these last 12 months or so. Yet again he's really cost the team, and yet again I'm left wondering why Corica continues to play him ahead of Caceres or Retre. Corica now has a very big decision to make for the coming weeks: continue to play Brillante in hopes he can somehow magically return to form, or drop him. I think he's just a massive liability to the team at this point, and with finals coming up we can't risk it. Thanks for those two good seasons Josh, but now is probably time to move on. 

2) Is that all you've got?

Into our fifth Asian Champions League campaign, and I am yet to be truly wowed by the performances of the big spending Chinese clubs in the competition. We have matched them in every campaign, and definitely bettered them more than a few times. If their national champions were struggling and felt need to time waste against a back four of Calver, Wilkinson, Zullo, and Grant then I don't think we're as far behind as some Asia snobs like to pretend. Sydney FC will always be at bare minimum respectable in Asia, and compared to how other Aussie clubs have done over the years... we might just be the most consistent performers. 

3) Derby decisions 

Siem de Jong picked up a knock in the first half, but continued into the second without looking like he was struggling much but it does mean there is a good level of competition for places in the current Sydney team ahead of Saturday's derby at Olympic Park. I think the front four that started today were very impressive and all deserve a shot at starting on the weekend, maybe with the exception of Ninkovic starting over De Silva, who I see as a very strong bench option. 

4) We were bloody good

The most disappointing thing is that we perform like that against any A-League team and we win 3 or 4 nil. We were surprisingly fast on the break, had some really good chances, and looked more than just cohesive up front but nearly deadly. I'm more upbeat after realising that we actually managed to score 3 goals, something we've only done against the bottom four A-League clubs so far this season. 

Full player ratings
Overall, it's disappointing to have lost after the performance we put in, but I think we've still got signs of life in Asia. I'm yet to be truly blown away by any of the teams we've played in Asia over these last 12 months. We can definitely get some points away from home, and I still think we can get out of the group.

Sydney Derby up next, and I really am not sure what to expect. Wanderers are almost good at times but also have a back four that concede goals like they're going out of fashion. On paper, Sydney should win but something something football is a funny game something something. 

Final score: Sydney FC (3) drew with Shanghai SIPG (3)
MOTM: Reza Ghoochannejhad

Follow me on twitter at @jamie_dunkin. 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Sydney FC 2-1 Melbourne Victory (A-League)

Big Blue #49 went the way of the Sky Blues in a game as patchy as the pitch it was played on, thanks to a 93rd minute winner from Milos Ninkovic.

Sydney had a lively start to the game, with Adam le Fondre hitting the crossbar with a chipped effort in the third minute. However it would be Brandon O'Neill to open the scoring just minutes later, as he collected the ball from Caceres before firing from range into the top corner.

Victory equalised ten minutes later, with Kosta Barbarouses making the most of a failed challenge from Aaron Calver which set him up for a neat chip over Redmayne.

The second half didn't start as lively as the first did, with both sides being just as poor as each other on the ball. It looked for all the world it'd end as a fairly drab 1-1 draw.

However, Milos Ninkovic was there to make sure all three points stayed in Sydney. The Serbian got on the end of a low cross from substitute Siem de Jong, and put a shot in which found its way in with a deflection off Carl Valeri. Just his second goal of the A-League season. Sydney's first stoppage time win under Steve Corica.

But what did we learn from the Big Blue?

1) SCG is a joke

The pitch the match was played on tonight was truly unacceptable. It was astonishingly poor, and seems to have taken Victory's Terry Antonis as a victim. The fact we're so used to poor pitches and often laugh it off in Australia is a sad indictment on how we view our own code. I've seen a lot of very poor pitches over the years watching Sydney FC, and it's one of the worst they've played on, especially for a match as big as this. I hope in finals series matches Sydney choose to use Kogarah or Leichhardt for home games, as the SCG is clearly not fit for football.

2) Sometimes maybe good... sometimes maybe shi-

Sydney are a funny team to watch. They've got some truly top class players, and have one of the strongest starting XIs in the league, even with injury issues - yet can't quite put together a complete performance. A very strong start to the match, similar to last week against Roar, but fell asleep after the opening 20, like last week. It's hard to truly pinpoint why they struggle to have a proper 90 minute performance - there's several potential reasons but to me it seems to be fitness. With a lot of players over the age of 30 there's just not the same pace to them. O'Neill always puts in a good shift, as does Grant, but the other outfield players sometimes just look to be haggard throughout periods of the match.

3) Siemply effective

Siem de Jong for the second week in a row has won Sydney points off the bench. Last week it was an assist and a pretty clever goal, this week it's a smart cross which somebody actually got on the end of. I think he's miles ahead of the A-League overall, and opposition defenders really aren't quite sure what he's going to do. He might just be the X Factor we need for the finals series, and I'm hopeful he starts in our next A-League game. 

A massive 3 points in the hunt for second spot, with the Sky Blues now 4 clear of Victory (third). Next for Sydney is an Asian Champions League home game against Shanghai SIPG at Jubilee, which has the potential to be a real arseblasting if we're not careful. After that, it's the Sydney Derby at Sydney Olympic Park - a chance for our first clean sweep of derbies in a season. 

Final score: Sydney FC (2) def. Melbourne Victory (1)
MOTM: Brandon O'Neill

Follow me on twitter at @jamie_dunkin.