Matchday preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC

After Wednesday night’s fantastic ACL win in Japan, the red and black will be primed to replicate that winning feeling when the in-form Sky Blues walk out at Wanderland. And after the bitterness of the last derby, strap yourself in for another humdinger on derby day in Sydney.


Saturday, 28 February 2015 

Pirtek Stadium, Sydney 

Kick-Off: 7.30pm (Local) 7.30pm AEDT) 


Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1.Ante COVIC (gk), 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Antony Golec, 7.Labinot HALITI, 9.Tomi JURIC, 10.Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 12.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 15.Yianni PERKATIS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Romeo CASTELEN, 18.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 23.Jason TRIFIRO, 25.Sam GALLAWAY 

Ins 6.Antony GOLEC (promoted), 15.Yianni PERKATIS (promoted), 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (promoted), 19.Mark BRIDGE (promoted)  

Outs 2.Shannon COLE (- 1 week), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC (suspended – 1 week), 8.Mateo POLJAK (suspended – 1 week), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (Shoulder) 

Unavailable 34.Golgol MEBRAHTU (knee – indefinite) 

Sydney FC 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Mark JANKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25.Aaron CALVER, 26.Jacques FATY, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 34.Robert STAMBOLZIEV 

***two to be omitted*** 

Ins 2. Seb RYALL (promoted), 34. Robert STAMBOLZIEV (promoted) 

Outs None 

Unavailable 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite), 19.Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite), 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (hip – indefinite)

The last episode in this thrilling rivalry ended in recriminations with accusations by Sydney FC of Wanderers players “high-fiving” after an injury to Ali Abbas (which subsequently proved to be season-ending). It was just another bitter incident in the city's most captivating sporting derby.   

Wanderers boss Tony Popovic hit back saying the claims were disrespectful to him and the club. What does it all mean? We should be set for fireworks at Pirtek Stadium. 

The Wanderers will not only have to overcome scratchy form and the absence of a couple of key players but also possible fatigue from a tough trip to Japan this week for the ACL, only returning to Sydney on Friday. Although Popovic did spare Ante Covic, Iacopo La Rocca, Brendan Hamill, Nikita Rukavytsya and Romeo Castelen the trip to ensure they are right for the derby. 

Suspensions to Matthew Spiranovic and Mateo Poljak means there will be at least a couple of changes to the Wanderers side which lost to Adelaide last weekend.

Given they had a tough trip to Japan midweek, Popovic is sure to freshen up his side but expect the five that didn’t travel all to start. Given Sydney FC’s good run of form, Arnold is unlikely to make many changes, although Sebastian Ryall’s return from injury could see him come in at right-back for youngster Aaron Calver. Rhyan Grant – who scored a screamer against the Mariners last weekend – is another option in that position. 

The Sky Blues head to Wanderland supremely confident, on a six-game unbeaten run and destined for finals football. 

-Western Sydney Wanderers haven’t won any of the last three derbies with Sydney, having been unbeaten in the previous four (D1 L2). 

-Sydney FC are the only unbeaten away team in the A-League (W4 D4). 

-Tomi Juric has netted twice against Sydney in the A-League, against no side does he have more goals. 

-Marc Janko has scored six times in his last four games for Sydney in the A-League. 

The Wanderers' options up front have been dealt a blow with Brendon Santalab to miss the rest of the season with another shoulder problem. 

It means Juric should lead the line and he did grab the goal for the home side in the 1-1 draw at the end of last year. 

While the Wanderers have had their troubles in front of goal – scoring just 12 for the season – it’s raining goals for Sydney FC of late with 15 in their last four outings. 

Janko has shot to the top of the scoring charts – alongside Nathan Burns with 10 – and has found the back of the net six times in the last four games.

Iacopo La Rocca. The Italian defensive midfielder has never endeared himself to Sydney FC fans, from his elbow on Terry Antonis a couple of years ago to his crunching tackle on Ali Abbas in the most recent derby in November which sparked controversy during and after the game.

There was a war of words between the two clubs following that match and you can expect plenty of feeling in the first challenge involving La Rocca on Saturday night.

With Poljak and Spiranovic both suspended, La Rocca will have even more responsibility on him in the middle of the park for the home side.

Strap yourself in for what will be a crunching midfield battle.

If current form is anything to go by then Sydney FC are deserved favourites. The Sky Blues have won three of their last four since returning from the break and would jump into the top four (for 24 hours at least) with a win here. 

Sydney have a win and a draw from the two previous derbies this season.  The Wanderers remain bottom of the A-League after a heart-breaking injury-time loss to Adelaide United last weekend. 

But they did receive a huge boost midweek in the ACL, coming away from Japan with a huge 3-1 win over Kashima Antlers which will undoubtedly lift the mood around the club and amongst the playing group.

Seven of Western Sydney’s eight A-League points this season have been won at Pirtek Stadium. They’ve also only conceded five times in seven home games.

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1-2 Sydney FC 

While there is a huge gap when it comes to form and ladder position, form really does go out the window in these cross-town battles.

The Wanderers will be up for it and would love nothing more than to hurt the Sky Blues’ top-four hopes but will surely be affected by the long trip to Japan this week.

Sydney are fitter, fresher and more confident which may just give the visitors the edge in what will be a typically hostile atmosphere at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium.