13/04/2024
A loss will risk City falling out of touch with the top six. PHOTO: Supplied.

A loss will risk City falling out of touch with the top six. PHOTO: Supplied.

Ten matches remaining until the end of the regular season means that chances are slipping away for Sydney FC and Melbourne City to cement a finals berth.

The Sky Blues have hit a purple patch recently, losing only one game in their past nine to climb into fifth position, while last season’s runners-up have experienced a turbulent campaign where they sit one place outside of the top six.

A fascinating contest as Sydney hopes to reverse the 2-0 loss they suffered earlier in the season against their next opponents.

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Since replacing Steve Corica in the early stages of the season, Ufuk Talay has translated his success from coaching the Wellington Phoenix to one of the biggest jobs in Australian football.

Talay says he understands the significance of the occasion with a congested mid-table.

“They’re very close to us [on the table] and if we can get a good result then we move away from City, so it’s very important for us to perform well and get the result at the same time,” he said.

Having produced one win in their past six including 5-1 and 4-2 losses to Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory respectively, Melbourne City will arrive with little confidence.

Despite this, Talay is thoroughly aware of the threats they oppose and touched on the need to focus on their selves.

“We’ve analysed the opposition; they’re still a very good side at the end of the day,” he said.

“They’ve still got the Socceroos frontline in their squad; people tend to forget that, so they’ve got some very experienced and quality players.

“For us, we’ll find where we need to exploit them and the focus is on what we do when we have the ball and to find those moments to nullify them.

I think we are creating a new identity in the way that we play and the way we set up. We want to get to a point where on a bad day the game that we play is quite recognisable.”


Also thrown into the frame after the season commenced was Aurelio Vidmar who hasn’t enjoyed much consistency at Melbourne City thus far.

The 57-year-old is wary of the danger that Sydney possesses after their impressive run of form.

“They’re very aggressive and playing high [up the pitch], so some of that we need to deal with and cope well,” he said.

“Obviously [Talay] has made a massive improvement since he’s been there.”

Predominately known for their slick attacking football over the past few seasons, the goals have dried up in the past few months for City who are equal second last in goals scored with 28.

Understanding that it will take time for the front third to click into full gear, Vidmar isn’t concerned regarding that area.

“It’s clear when a team has the regular players playing all the time, there’s a lot more cohesion and it works better,” he said.

“But when it’s the complete opposite and unfortunately, we’ve had to face that on many occasions over the last five or six weeks chopping and changing players so really not getting a hell of a lot of cohesion.

“Tils [Marco Tilio] played his first game in six months last week, Lecks [Matthew Leckie] also his first start for a number of months, also five months out for Andy [Nabbout]. Of course, they’re a little bit rusty and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get some cohesion.”

Vicente Fernandez is a confirmed starter to replace the injured Scott Galloway at left-back, while Sydney is still coming to terms with the long-term ankle injury to Pat Wood.

Midfielder Luke Brattan and right-back Callum Talbot are one yellow card away from suspension.

Kick-off commences at 5:30pm AEDT Saturday afternoon at Allianz Stadium.

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