14/04/2024

Melbourne City fans celebrate at AAMI Park. PHOTO-Melbourne City Twitter

Melbourne City will be aiming to go one better than last year when it meets Sydney FC this Sunday.

Melbourne City is on the hunt for its first A-League title in Sunday’s Grand Final against Sydney FC.

After getting past Macarthur FC with relative ease, City will be heading into the Grand Final with confidence.

After being arguably the best team all season, winning the Premiers Plate with three games to spare, some still see City as the underdog for the clash.

However as the football world saw against Macarthur, despite missing some seriously talented players, City still packs a decent punch.

With Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio producing a smash-mouth 60 seconds in the semi-final, they will be called upon again on Sunday against a top defensive side in Sydney.

Coming up against the best team of the last three years, City will have their work cut out for them. however it is not an impossible task.

Despite missing Jamie Maclaren, Connor Metcalf, and Curtis Good, City still have more than enough firepower to trouble Sydney.

So how exactly can City get revenge for their 1-0 loss to Sydney in the same match last season?

Be defensively sound

With players such as Kosta Barbarouses, Bobo, Milos Ninkovic, Adam le Fondre, and midfield dynamo Luke Bratten, Sydney has threats all across the park.

Melbourne City is going to have to be compact when Sydney is in possession. So they can cut off the passing lanes that Bratten and Ninkovic simply thrive in.

City were found wanting slightly against Macarthur and had it not been for a goal-line clearance from Nuno Reis, they would have gone behind.

Scott Galloway and Nathaniel Atkinson worked well up and down the right flank in the semi-final and their captain Scott Jamieson was solid down the left.

The one problem could be Rostyn Griffiths and his lack of speed. With the likes of Barbarouses and le Fondre across the front three, City will have to be wary not to let Griffiths get isolated.

Win the midfield battle

As with any match, the midfield battle will go a long way in deciding the match. Sydney possesses Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres, Kosta Barbarouses, Milos Ninkovic, and Alexander Baumjohann.

They can dictate the tempo of the game for Sydney with Baumjohann, Ninkovic, and Brattan capable of picking the tightest of locks with their creativity and range of passing.

For City, the midfield three of Florin Berenguer, Aiden O’Neill, and Adrian Luna will be expected to put in a shift against a very good Sydney side.

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Berenguer will be expected to be the creative force for City along with Luna as they look to break down the league’s best defensive team.

O’Neill will be expected to be the box-to-box midfielder who is a constant thorn in Sydney’s side while also providing plenty going forward too.

It looms as a fascinating battle on Sunday. If Melbourne City is to get revenge for last year’s loss, much will be expected of their midfield three to provide cover defensively, but also to drive the team forward.

Be clinical in attack

Any side missing a player of Jamie Maclaren’s calibre is going to struggle. However, with youngsters Colakovski and Marco Tilio, they were electric in the semi-final.

The movement and pace from both was a feature, however Sydney FC will present a vastly different challenge for the young duo.

At the time of writing it is unclear if assist king Craig Noone will take his place in the City line-up after being a late scratching against Macarthur.

It will provide a timely boost to this Melbourne City side in the final game of the season, should he play. If he does, it will be Noone’s last game for City after agreeing terms with Macarthur for next season.

Florin Berenguer and Adrian Luna will be tasked with trying to get through the league’s best defence. Having Scott Jamieson, Nathaniel Atkinson and Scott Galloway overlapping will be crucial.

City has been the best attacking side in the league, scoring 57 goals from their 26 matches and they need another great performance to cap off their incredible year.

After its 1-0 loss in the same fixture last year, to the same opponent, Melbourne City will be looking to right the wrongs and become A-League champions for the first time in the club’s history.

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