Finals Preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne City

Ahead of Sydney FC’s Finals game against Melbourne City, Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from Sydney FC striker Remy Siemsen and the City duo of Emma Checker and head coach Rado Vidosic (10/3/22).

This season sees an additional week of Finals. On Friday night, the top two, Sydney FC and Melbourne City go head to head for a place in the Grand Final at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. The losing team will get a second chance the following weekend against the winner of Sunday’s Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory Final.

Sydney FC‘s Matildas striker Remy Siemsen highlighted how focussed she is on getting over the line tomorrow night. “Melbourne City were the one team that has beaten us this season, so we’re all out for revenge. We have fire in our bellies for a big win. I have faith and confidence in the squad that they will get the job done tomorrow.

Whilst the losing team will have another opportunity to make the Grand Final, Siemsen is going all out to beat City to qualify at the first attempt. “A semi-final is super-important and we don’t want to be overwhelmed, we just want to focus on ourselves and our game plan and book ourselves a ticket into the Grand Final. That’s super important for us. We want redemption after losing to Victory at the death last year. It is nice to have a second chance if we lose, but we are out to do everything possible to book that ticket tomorrow.”

Above: Sydney FC’s Remy Siemsen (left), pictured battling with Wellington Phoenix’s Kate Taylor, is firmly focused on defeating Melbourne City tomorrow to make the Grand Final at their first attempt. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

“Melbourne City are a quality team with quality players throughout their squad. We have met them a lot over the years in Finals series and in Grand Finals. We know though that we have quality all through our squad too to overcome them.

“Winning the Premiership is a huge achievement. At the outset this season we said we wanted to win both trophies this year. We did celebrate in the changing room after last weekend’s game, but any more celebrations are waiting until after the Grand Final which is what we want now.”

The striker feels that the special bond between players at the club, who have been together for so many years now could be the decisive factor in their favour against City.

“Winning the Grand Final is something I’ve wanted to achieve. I love this club more than anything, they are my home away from home. We are all best friends on and off the pitch, which would make it even more special. We are doing anything mentally and physically to make sure we are working to win.

“I love big games and Finals. It’s a position I’ve been in plenty of times before, so I just want to do my job and help the team tick off the goal of winning the Grand Final.”

Above: Melbourne City’s Emma Checker speaking to the media today. Photo: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City‘s Emma Checker spoke of the pride she feels in the way the team has hit back this season from the disappointments of 2020/21 to finish second this time round.

“I’m absolutely stoked about our season. We believed we were capable of this, but we’ve proved it to everyone. The new Finals format is a positive and we are in it to win it. The positive of winning the one v two Final guarantees you a home Grand Final.

“We are going to play it like it is a knockout as we really want a week off and have that home Grand Final.”

Checker tried to put her finger on why the club had experienced such a tough time last season, but also saw those challenges as a major aid to their performances this time round.

“It’s harder to stay at the top, it’s not an easy place to be. We’ve had a lot of success since we came into the league, but we had a lot of learning opportunities as a result of last season, and Rado and his staff worked really hard to get good players, good people. Maybe we needed that tough season last time round to help us drive us for something special this season.”

The Australian international spoke of what her own personal goals were for this campaign and how she feels she has done so far in achieving those aims.

“I have been focusing on becoming a better leader and I wanted to focus on being the best person I can be. There was a big turnover of players and I needed to see how I could help bring everyone together. I like to think I’ve done everything I can to make sure that happened.”

Looking specifically at the challenges that Sydney will post City this weekend, Checker knows the threat of her opponents’ strikeforce.

“We respect the quality of Sydney’s front line. They have shown that they are a powerhouse. We are very confident that we can play at that level and match that quality. It will be a good challenge for us. They are coming in full strength. We are missing Holly McNamara, but we are looking really strong too.

“As a squad we don’t just learn our own position, but a wider understanding of other roles too, so there is an awareness of what we might need to do should someone come off and we need to change positions. That’s a massive plus for us. Adelaide were able to rattle them last week, we are wanting to do the same this time.”

Above: Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic at today’s media conference. Photo: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic opened his media conference by highlighting player availability this week.

“Stotty (Rebekah Stott) will be back. We used last weekend to rest a couple of players, but we have no concerns apart from Holly (McNamara) who is out for the rest of the season.”

City has played Sydney twice this season, the second occasion saw them become the only side to defeat the Harbour City team during 2021/22.

“We have analyzed both games against Sydney, and we will be using things from those matches, but a lot of things have changed since then. We need to remember that we are playing away against them and we lost that. They were excellent against us that day.

“Our players know their responsibilities and have adhered to our principles so we are confident. Obviously, there is always a chance of a mistake. Whoever makes less mistakes will win the game.”

Melbourne City have come a long way since the disappointments of last season. A strong recruitment pre-season has built a hugely talented squad. Vidocic pointed out that the key to their campaign has been the number of players at the top of their form for so much of the campaign.

“Our progression has been very good. If we had everyone available for matches, I think we would have been the league winners and at home this weekend. We have helped Stotty come back. Tori (Tunmeth), ‘Mini’ (Rhianna Pollicina), Hannah Wilkinson have all had their best-ever season. Holly McNamara has been amazing. We haven’t seen much of Leticia McKenna after injury, but she is wonderful player.”

As good as City’s season have been, their head coach recognizes that Sydney are full of top-quality players.

“Sydney have been the best team in the league. They have arguably the best coach in the league. They have so much power and attacking threat. They even have (Paige) Satchell and (Cote) Rojas on the bench! There is a solid backline and goalkeeper in the team of the year. Their midfield is better than most as well. They are a very good team.”

Asked whether he sees his team as underdogs this weekend, Vidosic said: “I don’t want us to be underdogs, I want us to be big dogs! We have adjusted this year. A lot of the girls who came into us this year have not been part of a big team. They have been in teams in the middle of the table. We have helped them to progress and it is fantastic.”

In terms of how he views the game being played, City’s head coach outlined a match on three levels. “First, I see a macro game which is the 11 v 11 game. Then there is a mini-game which takes place around the ball which is often a 4 v 4 or 5 v 5. The final level is the micro game which is the 1 v 1 situations.

“For me, it is irrelevant what system Sydney play, we need to outnumber them in the micro game. We have developed this throughout the season. Regardless of what formation Sydney have we will adapt.”

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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