Sydney defence ready to quell star-studded City attack

Anna Harrington |

If Melbourne City loom as the unstoppable force of the A-League Men finals, Sydney FC intend to be the immovable object standing in their way.

Premiers City possess the league’s most lethal attack, with Jamie Maclaren, Marco Tilio, Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout all genuine goalscoring threats.

But Sydney’s defence, marshalled by Alex Wilkinson and Jack Rodwell, has found new grit in recent weeks and will have plenty of confidence heading into Friday’s semi-final first leg at Allianz Stadium.

“We work hard defensively as a unit and we know their strengths – they could have a number of players playing,” Sydney coach Steve Corica told reporters.

“Nabbout, Tilio, Leckie, obviously, Maclaren is so dangerous in and around the box. 

“We focus on all of them and it’s all about the structure that we put out and how hard we’re going to work defensively to stop them from scoring.

“They’re a great partnership at the moment and we’ve been doing a lot of work defensively because at the start of the season we were leaking way too many goals – we had two centre-backs out. 

“So it helps when the experienced players are back and everyone’s really working hard defensively as a unit.” 

Sydney’s own attacking arsenal is somewhat down on firepower, with gun winger Joe Lolley to have limited involvement off the bench.

Corica only has one finals loss to his name since taking the reins at Sydney, the 2020-21 grand final defeat to City, and will back his charges to set themselves on the path to an upset.

His City counterpart Rado Vidosic insisted there was no pressure on his side to kick on through finals and complete the premiership-championship double.

“It’s not a pressure. There is absolutely no pressure from anyone,” he said. 

“What we tried to achieve we have achieved already. 

“We won the premiership, we qualified for the Champions League, we broke a lot of records, we played a lot of young players, we’re on the verge of selling a couple of our young players to overseas clubs. 

“Of course, it would be great to win the grand final and we’re going to try our best.”