Old foes Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will lock horns again at Allianz Stadium on Sunday and for the third time in an A-League decider.
Sydney cruised past Perth Glory 3-0 at home last Saturday, and while things were a little more stressful for Victory fans, they overcame Brisbane Roar 1-0.
Ahead of the big game, we again took to the fans to get a sense of the mood heading into the weekend.
Outside90: All in all, Sydney FC did it pretty comfortably against Perth Glory on Saturday. All pumped and ready to go again against Melbourne Victory?
Nick Rupolo: After seven years without a championship trophy, Sydney fans are raring to go for this one!
O90: How would you describe Victory as a Sydney fan?
NR: A storied club with a lot of history, great players, great fans and a coach that I expect to go on to do great things. Over 7,000 Victory fans expected for the final, just goes to show how passionate their fan base is.
O90: How much pleasure did it give you knocking over Victory on their own turf?
NR: My first away day in Melbourne wasn’t bad was it? A defiant 2-1 win capped off with a Bernie Ibini solo strike. Victory were great that night but Sydney nicked it in the end and deservedly so.
O90: The 2015 grand final must have been tough to watch.
NR: Victory were at their best that day and not even a rampant Marc Janko or Terry Antonis could break their line. For Sydney fans, hard to watch for sure nobody wants to go down 3-0 especially on the biggest stage of them all.
O90: Revenge is a dish best serve cold. Will that be on Sydney fans’ minds come Sunday?
NR: Whether it’s bragging rights over a ‘Big Blue’ in the league, grand final or preseason friendly, Sydney fans always demand the taste of victory against Melbourne and to serve them up a nice plate of ‘f*** you’ after the dreadful 3-0 loss in 2015.
O90: What do you see as Victory’s biggest strength?
NR: Do I really need to say? Besart Berisha. The man hasn’t scored against Sydney this season and Jordy Buijs has had his number in both matches this campaign but that doesn’t mean the Kosovo international won’t be on another level on Sunday.
O90: Where can Sydney expose them?
NR: We have to give them a taste of their own medicine. A high pressing game was what tore Brisbane roar apart and suffocated their movement. On Sydney’s home patch, that’ll work a treat for them to put pressure on unconfident ball playing defenders Donachie and Baro.
O90: Putting affiliation aside for a moment, what are your expectations of Sydney on Sunday?
NR: If the semi-final against Perth was what most believe was Sydney’s most complete performance then Sydney are going to be an unstoppable force on Sunday. That doesn’t mean that Victory can’t smear their perfect season.
O90: Score prediction?
NR: Sydney FC 1 Melbourne Victory 0.
O90: Describe the following in a word:
NR: Kevin Muscat – Bald
Carl Valeri – Skimpy
Marco Rojas – Choice
Leigh Broxham – Warrior
Outside90: The Brisbane game was tense! Comfortable but tense, certainly from a Victory perspective. All ready for the big dance on Sunday?
Dave Srhoj: I think mentally the squad will be more than ready. We have nothing to lose and we have a massive opportunity to take part in some state of the art #TwilightRobbery. Putting aside all the bravado from management and players this week the pressure will definitely be on Sydney. Deep down Sydney will know that their entire season could amount to nothing if they fail. For us, if we finish second along with Asian football qualification it will be probably be an accurate reflection of our season. I’m pretty relaxed about it all!
O90: How would you describe Sydney FC as a Victory fan?
DS: A club with very little substance. A club that lacks identity. I suppose that cannot be helped when you reside smack back in the middle of a city that is just superficial in the extreme. This thesis is backed up by the fact that people in Sydney are just not interested in what Sydney FC have to offer unless there is a Hollywood name involved. What a pity that this great side Arnold has fashioned has been witnessed by so very few Sydney-siders? Except of course in the grand final – witness the theatre-goers roll out for this A-list event.
O90: The 2010 grand final defeat at home – just how painful was it?
DS: I remember saying in a pub immediately after the game that it really stung – mainly because at that time it put them on level-pegging with us silverware-wise. It was a game we should have put away before it even got to penalties. Every single Vuck fan out there still has a massive bone to pick with Aziz Behich for his fluffed chance late-on in that game.
O90: We can only imagine the 2015 grand final helped ease the pain somewhat?
DS: It was a massive statement. That win took us to the top of the tree not only for that season, but across A-League history. It was the culmination of a great season, with great recruits and an FFA Cup to boot. It proved that Kevin Muscat could achieve greatness as a manager in his own right as he stepped out of the large shadow left behind by Ange Postecoglou. To absolutely demolish Baby Blue FC in that manner in that grand final was just the icing on an already magnificent cake.
O90: What would it mean to avenge 2010 on Sydney’s patch and become the first club to four titles?
DS: As our first ever away grand final, there’s no precedent for fans like us. It’s not really about revenge, it’s just all about #TwilightRobbery. We know we’ve been second best all season to this mob, but we are reveling in the opportunity to be able to snatch it all away from them in one game of football.
O90: Sydney have a few strengths to say the least, but what’s their biggest one?
DS: Their structure and tactical discipline. This flows into all their other successful facets and is the reason why they’ve had such a great year.
O90: How or where can Victory break down Sydney?
DS: By capitalising on our chances this time around. In two of the encounters we’ve had with Sydney this season, we had chances to take a two goal lead and failed to do so. Sydney then found a way to equalise and eventually win. It is imperative for us to score first and score early. Not only to cast doubt into the minds of Graham Arnold’s men, but also to silence the Sydney FC crowd. One goal will not be enough and we need every single player to contribute.
O90: Thinking with the heart aside, what are your expectations for Sunday?
DS: Sydney FC remain the favourites, based purely on the season they’ve had and the level of organisation they have as a football unit. However, each and every Vuck fan out there is well aware of how we can upset the apple cart on Sunday. There will be thousands of travelling Vucktorians willing Our Boys in Blue to do just that. You can guarantee that the travelling support will be immense and fiery.
O90: Score prediction?
DS: 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes, and then a last gasp goal in extra-time from Besart Berisha. Followed by a pitch invasion from thousands of Vucktorians.
O90: Describe the following in a word:
DS: Graham Arnold – Belligerent
Alex Brosque – Overrated
Milos Ninkovic – China-bound
David Carney – Shitgoose