Ahhhhh the big dance. The one time of the season we can focus on a single game. The big money game. Ok. Maybe not money, but you get me right? Whilst my body is weary, I’ve just literally moved into a new house in a new town, sitting on the floor having just built my bed (can’t sleep on it tonight though, gotta let the compressed mattress do it’s thing). I’m still so flaming stoked for this Grand Final.
The two teams, Sydney FC and Perth Glory. The bridesmaids game. Finally one will be crowned champions. For Perth it’s the potential of a maiden Championship, for Sydney it’ll be their first in five years, which is ridiculous considering they’ve never missed out on finals football. These are two teams who are often piped at the post for the big trophy. That one will be wearing the crown is going to be super special, for the players and fans alike. I’m amped.
Even better, I’m sneaking off to Sydney to watch this one in the flesh. Can’t get better than that.
So to the match, here’s a breakdown.
For Sydney to Win
During the back end of the season, and again against Brisbane in the semifinal, Sydney have been sitting a lot deeper, soaking up pressure and looking to sling shot into attack using the smarts of Colaprico, Logarzo or McCaskill. Compared to their early season “attack, attack, attack” mentality, this has seen a lot more success, bar the game against City, who were chasing a massive result (just wipe that from my memory now please).
For Sydney to work the way of recent tactics, their defence needs to be on point. With Kennedy in the centre, there is little issue through the guts of the field, however it’s how the fullbacks workout that will be the decider. At times, both Huerta and Harrison have been caught playing too high and unable to get back to defend the counter down their respective flanks. Whilst I’m a huge fan of Harrison, having Green there last weekend meant I didn’t have to wonder whether Harrison would get a rash yellow card for a professional foul early in the match, nor was Green caught out too far forward. Putting Green in does lose some of the attacking threat, however given the attacking talents Sydney have at their disposal and Huerta down the other flank, this is a non issue. Because honestly, it would kill me a little having Hill and Kerr having an absolute field day down the flanks because Sydney left it completely exposed.
The obvious players to say to watch are totally McCaskill and Foord. They’re world class, no doubt, they give you the same feeling an icecream does on a hot summer’s day. However Ibini has to be one to keep an eye on. If she’s got her touch on point and doesn’t go MIA, she could be the little something something to catch Glory offside. This is particularly so if Perth sit back and let Sydney play at them. With this, McCaskill and Foord will have players on them like flies, meaning something special from Ibini could turn the game on it’s head. She’s got the potential to do it, but like my younger brother who has the potential to make his own toast and tea whilst at mum’s, the potential is there, but are they going to use it? Hopefully Ibini will make toast of Perth’s defence.
For Perth to Win
Captain obvious would point out Sam Kerr holds the key to success for Perth, like a scrambled egg breakfast holds the key for a good morning. There has to be no doubt, if Kerr decides to turn on the sprinklers and seriously play, she will be the match winner. That’s how Perth have reached the grand final and it’s definitely how they could win it.
But we’ve also got some other things to think about on how Perth could win this one. This is a team who have looked at very strong on the transition, allowing Kerr to run with the ball from deep, with the support of Hill and Mautz. For this to happen though, Perth’s defence and midfield need to remain tight. Their defence, whilst not the strongest in the competition, is a solid outfit and knows how to sit deep, soaking up pressure. Campbell in particular in goal has been in stunning form, very little will get past her. So long as Perth don’t leave massive gaps between the lines, meaning their midfield will need to turn on a display similar to last week, where they were simply killer, they have all it takes to keep Sydney at bay.
Perhaps the strongest reason to back the “rely on the quick transition tactic” is because it will play to Sydney’s strengths. Yeah, Perth have looked better when holding a bit more of the ball, when their forwards can find the gaps and with a midfielder working between the lines, but with the way Sydney play that will simply play into their hands. Sydney don’t leave much of a gap between their lines with the set up of their midfield, Polias between the lines, one of Ralston or Kennedy are quick to step up to apply pressure and Logarzo plays in the space between the midfield and forwards if Perth decide to play with a deeper play maker. Further, Sydney have looked super strong in the transition. If Perth can nullify that threat by allowing Sydney to play at them, then that’ll take away the sting of Sydney’s attack.
On the Whole
Bias on the table, I want Sydney to win. Simple. Take away the bias and Sydney could well win this one. Of course there is doubt, Perth defeated Victory to get here, a side consisting of the most well rounded unit all season, so that scares me. Makes me less inclined to go “Sydney are more rounded, with better talent across the park”, however Sydney haven’t looked too shabby either. Either way, it’ll be the side who defends their opponents super quick and simply brilliant transitions and counters that will win this game.
The ultimate match? It would be a Kerr and Foord shoot out. Both players getting hat tricks, doing some flips and for Sydney to nick it on the 90th minute through a Kennedy free kick. That would be marvellous wouldn’t it?
Prediction: Sydney FC 4 – 3 Perth Glory (insanity for my heart, but imagine the celebrations and jubilation afterwards)