It’s the big one: the A-League Grand Final. And it’s shaping as a classic decider between defending champs Sydney FC and first-timers Melbourne City FC.
History: Played 31: Sydney 13 V Melbourne City 9 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: August 1, 2020: Melbourne City 2 d Sydney 0 at ANZ Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 2019-20 A-League campaign will finish – albeit three months later than planned – with a Grand Final showdown between the season’s two best teams.
Sydney FC claimed the Premiers Plate, finishing six points in front of Melbourne City. The rest of the field was another six points adrift.
The defending champs hit a worrying slump after the A-League’s resumption, going winless in their last five games. But Sydney stepped up when it mattered, with goals from Milos Ninkovic and Adam le Fondre in a five-minute first-half burst carrying them to a 2-0 semi-final win over Perth on Wednesday.
Melbourne City, meanwhile, went unbeaten after the restart – including a win over the Sky Blues. They grabbed a Grand Final spot with a 2-0 semi-final defeat of Western United on Wednesday. But it was a tough slog. A 68th-minute penalty from Jamie Maclaren, who has scored in four straight games, and a Western United own goal in the 84th minute got City over the line.
Honours shared in regular season
Sydney FC have won nine of the last 11 matches between the clubs, but Melbourne City has won two of the last three. This is their maiden finals encounter.
Goals from Adam le Fondre and Kosta Barbarouses carried the Sky Blues to a 2-1 win in December after Melbourne City’s Connor Metcalfe had opened the scoring. But City can take plenty of confidence from their 2-0 victory over Sydney in early-August, their first assignment after the A-League’s resumption.
Craig Noone and Jamie Maclaren found the back of the net midway through the second stanza after a goal-less first half.
Sydney FC are into their sixth A-League Grand Final, winning four of five. It’s their fourth decider in six seasons, but they needed a penalty shootout to get past the Victory in 2017 and the Glory last year.
This is Melbourne City’s maiden Grand Final.
The rivals are evenly matched, with opposing strikers le Fondre and Maclaren both in sizzling touch. City’s form has been superior since the restart – particularly defensively – but Sydney were the more impressive semi-final victor.
Ultimately the Sky Blues’ big-game experience should prove the difference. But don’t be surprised to see the Grand Final go to extra-time for the sixth time in 11 seasons.