Preview: Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar
Played: 28 – Sydney 7, Roar 13, Drawn 8
Sydney 2-5 Roar, December 26, 2013
Past five matches:
Sydney FC: WLWWL
Sydney will still be on a high after their memorable comeback win in the derby last weekend. Not only did the 3-1 result give them bragging rights over their local rivals but also catapult Frank Farina's side up to fourth spot and just three points behind the second-placed Wanderers. The Sky Blues will be sweating on the fitness of skipper Alessandro Del Piero, who was forced off early in the second half of the derby with hamstring tightness. Defender Pedj Bojic won't play again this season after undergoing surgery on a troublesome back problem.
Brisbane became the first side to assure themselves of finals football after their thrilling 2-1 win over Adelaide last Sunday. The Roar are now 10 points clear at the top of the table and could wrap up the Premiers' Plate as early as this weekend if they win and other results go their way. They head to Sydney without Ivan Franjic, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend. With James Donachie also unavailable, Jack Hingert is expected to deputise at right-back. The Roar has lost just seven times in 28 previous meetings against Sydney.
The big issue:
Sydney- There's something that just doesn't agree with the Sky Blues when they come up against the men in Orange shirts. The Roar have proved to be Sydney's bogey team over the years and have absolutely destroyed Farina's side on both occasions this season, scoring nine goals in their two previous meetings. Sydney will need to put that record as far out of their minds as possible if they hope to upset the league-leaders and overturn their horror record in this fixture.
Roar – With their finals place sewn up and the engraver getting ready to put their name on the Premiers' Plate, the Brisbane players may start looking towards the finals. With five games still to go that could be a dangerous thing to do and with other sides desperate to pick up any points they can, it might just leave the Roar a little vulnerable. Finals are all about momentum and Mike Mulvey can't afford to let them take their foot off the gas if they want to complete the double this season.
The game breaker:
Dimitri Petratos – The young attacker made his name in the A-League for Sydney FC but now looms as a huge danger for the home side on Friday night. Petratos was the difference when the two sides met earlier this season, scoring a hat-trick as the Roar won 5-2 at Allianz Stadium. His pace is a huge threat to Sydney FC's at-times laborious defence and he will be extra motivated to get one over his former employers again.
Prediction: Sydney FC 2-2 Roar
Sydney FC's shocking record against the Roar makes it hard to go past the runaway league-leaders but not many gave the Sky Blues a chance against the Wanderers either. The return of Terry Antonis over the last month along with Hagi Gligor's good form gives the home side more mobility in the midfield which is vital against Brisbane's ability to control possession and movement in the middle of the park. There's been 11 goals in their two meetings this season so expect goals in this one and the Sky Blues' desperation might just see them come away with a point which could be crucial to their finals hopes.