The equation for Sydney FC heading into their final regular season match at home to Perth Glory on Sunday is now clearer, following Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Adelaide on Friday night.
The Sky Blues must avoid a defeat of two or more goals to ensure they claim sixth place for the A-League finals series, but can still – theoretically – finish as high as second with a win, if the three other Round 27 results go their way.
Whilst that is unlikely to happen, there is a realistic chance they could finish in third or fourth place, which would ensure next weekend’s elimination final would be played at home, meaning claiming all three points will be the only thing on the minds of Frank Farina’s men against the eighth placed Glory, who have taken just one win from their 13 games on the road this season.
In what would be a major boost for Sydney, Serbian striker Ranko Despotovic is a chance of making a timely return from a knee injury, after he was named in an 18-man squad by Farina on Thursday. His presence up front will provide in-form magician Alessandro Del Piero with some added space and time in the attacking third, which will give the Sky Blues – should they do the job on Sunday – reason to believe they can cause some damage in the finals.
Their swaggering attacking display in atrocious conditions at home to Wellington last weekend will also give them plenty of confidence heading into the Glory clash, but whilst the SFS pitch should be much more playable this time around, the added emotion for Perth surrounding veteran leader Jacob Burns playing his last game for the club before retirement, is something Sydney need to be wary of.
But Perth’s horrendous away record this season, coupled with the fact they have only tasted victory against the Sky Blues once in their last seven trips to the Harbour City, means the home side have no excuse not to come up with the goods.
Have your say: How do you see the Glory match unfolding? And are Sydney a chance to go on and win the grand final?
Sydney FC squad: 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. Seb Ryall, 4. Ranko Despotovic, 5. Matt Jurman, 6. Nikola Petkovic, 10. Alessandro Del Piero (c), 11. Richard Garcia, 13. Sasa Ognenovski, 16. Joel Chianese, 17. Terry Antonis, 18. Peter Triantis, 20. Vedran Janjetovic, 21. Milos Dimitrijevic, 22. Ali Abbas, 24. Hagi Gligor, 28. Matt Thompson, 29. Alec Urosevski, 34. Aaron Calver