A-League final: anybody got a ticket for Sydney vs Victory?
The Melbourne Victory will host Sydney FC in the A-League’s grand final on Sunday in a stadium that, quite frankly, is only about half as big as they’d prefer.
The match, dubbed the “Big Blue,” will be played at a 30,000-seat venue, the Victory’s home ground for the regular season, meaning tens of thousands of fans will miss out.
League officials wanted to use a larger stadium in the Docklands area of Melbourne which seats 53,000 for the title match, but the venue was unavailable because the Australian rules Australian Football League had already booked the field for a game on the same day. The Melbourne-based AFL says the A-League waited too long to ask for permission for a switch.
The Victory only secured a home grand final with a 3-0 win over Melbourne City last weekend. If City had won, combined with Sydney FC’s 4-1 win over Adelaide United in the other semifinal, the championship decider would have been held in Sydney.
Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata said he was disappointed a late switch of venues was not possible.
“I’m from Melbourne, I follow AFL and enjoy,” it, Pignata said. “But I just don’t know what the AFL are scared of, really. It’s a disgrace that they wouldn’t agree to move the (Western Bulldogs vs. Fremantle) game. We have 12,000 members, and only a quarter of them will be able to get tickets. They’re really angry and understandably so.”
The hype around the AFL match didn’t help: Fremantle is the only undefeated team remaining after six rounds this season of the top-flight league in Australia’s home-grown game, and a big crowd is expected.
Here are some other things to know about Sunday’s A-League decider:
SINGLE POINTS: A popular Australian expression is to say “there’s nothing in it,” and nothing could be more true than results between the Victory and Sydney FC this season. The teams played to a 0-0 draw in the sixth round and then had 3-3 draws in the 10th and 17th rounds. The grand final is a repeat of the 2010 championship match which Sydney won 4-2 on penalties following a, wait for it, 1-1 draw.
TRIVIA TIME: Sydney FC, the Sky Blues, won the inaugural A-League championship in 2006 — the year the revamped competition replaced the National Soccer League — as well as its 2010 title. The Victory won championships in 2007 and 2009, both times when they finished in first place during the regular season, as they did this year. Whichever team wins Sunday will equal the Brisbane Roar’s record of three A-League titles.
PERFECT PEAKING: The Victory, which wears a dark blue jersey featuring a big white V, have won six of their last seven matches, including four in a row. Sydney also has a four-game winning streak, and has won nine of its last 11. Expect a few goals Sunday: Sydney has scored 41 goals in its last 14 games, compared with just 15 in the previous 14. The Victory have only failed to score in one of their last 17 matches.
WHO’S HOT: Bernie Ibini has scored in his last four games for Sydney, while Alex Brosque has six goals in his last four, including two in Sydney’s win over Adelaide in the semifinals. Marco Janko leads Sydney with 16 goals while Brosque has nine. Besart Berisha has 14 goals — and seven assists— for the Victory, with Archie Thompson adding 11.
THE FINAL WORD: Brosque says despite draws in their past three matches and in the 2010 final between the teams, “I think it will be over in 90 minutes. I think there’ll be something special ... I would love to go out and be the difference.”