Archie Thompson is a key to Victory's chances in the 'Big Blue'. Picture courtesy of Paul Miller/AAP
It’s the biggest rivalry in Australian football - Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC going head-to-head in front of a packed crowd at AAMI Park and since 2012, an it has become an Australia Day tradition. To add even more spice to the ‘Big Blue’ both sides aren't exactly fond of each other, they are desperate for the three points and Victory appears to have snatched classy midfielder Tom Rogic and Roar striker Besart Berisha from under the Sky Blues’ noses.
Victory will be bolstered by Rogic, who is on loan from Celtic for the rest of season. He’s likely to make his ‘dark blue’ debut from the bench and is the perfect replacement for Mitch Nichols who has linked with Japanese J.League side Cerezo Osaka. Berisha will head south at season’s end. The Melbourne glamour club is still smarting after one its worst ever losses – hammered 5-0 by the Phoenix in Wellington. It will also be without captain Mark Milligan for at least a month as he recovers from minor knee surgery.
Sydney’s recent form is woeful – four losses in five starts, with the only point banked since mid-December coming from its 2-2 draw against Adelaide United. Included in this horror stretch, are 1-0 losses to Central Coast, Western Sydney and Wellington, as well as a humiliating 5-2 drubbing at home courtesy of competition leader Brisbane.
The Sydneysiders can take solace from knowing they were successful 3-2 over their ‘blues brothers’ earlier this season at Allianz Stadium. While Melbourne sits comfortably in fourth place on 23 points, Sydney is eighth just a point outside the top-six. With Richard Garcia over a bruised ankle, there should be some extra mid-pitch service, allowing Alessandro Del Piero to be even more creative. Rumours continue to circulate the Italian midfield maestro is looking to move on before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
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