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A-League: Victory and Sydney set for Big Blue showdown

Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC are both in desperate need of three points so there is plenty at stake when the two arch rivals clash on Australia Day.

In a game known as the ‘Big Blue’ there is no love lost between these two sides and the rivalry will move up another notch on Thursday considering where they both sit on the ladder.

At the start of the season no-one would have predicted Victory sitting at the bottom of the pile, while Sydney are only two spots and three points above them.

If either side are to have any chance of rescuing their season and making the top six, they need to get their act together now. Just six points separate Victory from the top six, and they do have a game in hand, albeit against Melbourne City, but they have to start winning games and Thursday would be a good place to start.

Another defeat for Sydney FC could result in coach Steve Corica getting the axe so the stakes could not be higher heading into the game. Let’s take a closer look at the action.

What:Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Where:Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
When:18:45 (AEST) Thursday 26th January, 2023
How to watch:Paramount+
Odds:Victory 13/8, Sydney 17/10, Draw 12/5

Victory in need of a lift

It has been a dramatic fall from grace for Melbourne Victory during the 2022/23 campaign and they sit at the very bottom of the ladder with just three wins all season.

In his first season in charge, Tony Popovic took Victory to a second-place finish and they looked certain to kick on and challenge for the title in this campaign. The addition of Portuguese star Nani will have had the fans believing that this could be the year Victory return to the very top.

But it has been quite the opposite and scoring goals has been a real problem. Indeed they have scored just 11 and along with the Newcastle Jets, have the worst record in the league. Despite what looks to be a dire position, Victory can still rescue their season if they can get on a run of results.

Victory are priced at 6/5 to make the top six. They still have the quality in the ranks and if they can gain some confidence, Popovic will be confident of a push for finals. 

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They have not won in the last five games though and suffered a 3-1 defeat against Perth Glory last weekend. Forward Chris Ikonomidis was sent off in that game and will miss out through suspension this week, with Nishan Velupillay set to replace him on the right side of the Victory attack.

Nani will be missing again through injury so the Victory side will have a very familiar look to it as Popovic keeps faith with his regulars.

Melbourne Victory (probable) Acton; Geria, Bozinovski, Spiranovic, Smith; Brillante, Broxham; Velupillay, Brimmer, Folami; Fornaroli.

Corica in last-chance saloon

The pressure has been on Corica for some time now, but it ramped up another level following the loss against Western United on Saturday. Sydney find themselves in 10th spot on the ladder with just four wins from 13 games and they look destined to miss out on finals once again. They are priced at 10/11 to make it.

They failed to make the six in the 2021/22 campaign but Corica’s record of winning silverware with the club saved him from the axe. However unless there is a quick upturn in results then Corica could be out on his ear. Especially now that Dwight Yorke is available.

Rumours are rife that the former Sky Blues player could take the helm. But all is not lost for Sydney.

Despite a shocking run that has seen them win just one out of the last six games, they are just three points away from the play-offs. A victory in the Big Blue could kick-start a run for the top six, however they will need to sort out their defence if they are to do so.

They have the second worst defensive record in the A-League when conceding 22 goals. Only Western United have conceded more.

However they have bagged 18 goals, the most out of those teams outside the top five, and star striker Adam Le Fondre, who is priced at 4/1 to score first, will again lead the attack against Victory.

 Sydney have suffered one big blow on the injury front with the news that Jack Rodwell will miss out. The former Manchester City star had looked solid in the heart of the defence in the last two games and he will be a big loss for Corica. 

Sydney FC (probable) Redmayne; Grant, Donachie, Wilkinson, Caballo; Caceres, Brattan, Burgess; Lolley, Le Fondre, Mak.

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