Liberty A-League preview: Victory v Sydney

Match details

Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Melbourne
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Kick-off: 8.05pm AEDT
Entry FREE for all fans


Melbourne Victory can reignite the race for the Liberty A-League Premier’s Plate when it hosts Sydney FC in a Grand Final rematch on Wednesday.

Victory extended its winning run to four matches with arguably its best display of the season in Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Catherine Zimmerman scored a brace to go with strikes from MelindaJ Barbieri, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin.

Cooney-Cross was particularly impressive, scoring her first goal of the season and having a hand in three others.

The Commonwealth Bank Matilda has played on the wing in recent matches and produced lively displays, constantly threatening opposition defences.

Zimmerman, meanwhile, returned to the scoresheet and moved onto five goals for the campaign. 

Victory’s winning run has kept it in the hunt for the Premier’s Plate ahead of hosting Sydney at City Vista Recreation Reserve.

Sydney (28 points, 10 games played), City (24, 10), Adelaide United (21, 11) and Victory (21, nine) sit in the top four spots on the table.

However, Victory will be without Claudia Bunge, who is away on international duty with New Zealand. 

The meeting with Sydney is a rematch of last season’s Grand Final, which Victory won courtesy of Cooney-Cross’ extra-time goal.

Player in focus

Zimmerman has enjoyed a strong season so far. The forward netted six goals in her maiden Liberty A-League campaign in 2020/21 and is up to five in 2021/22.

What they said – Hopkins

on the squad…
“Obviously spirits are pretty high after the performance and the result on the weekend. Everyone’s been pretty good actually. Mindy rolled her ankle on the weekend, but she’s come through that really well. Casey (Dumont) had a bit of a knock on her knee but it’s just almost like a cork so she’s fine. Everyone else has come through it really well. We’ll have just about everyone that was available for selection on Saturday will be available again for Wednesday night. It’s good we’ve done a session this morning (Monday), very, very light on the field, got the girls in the pool and then massage afterwards. We’ll get some work done in relation to the Sydney game tomorrow and that will be all we do. We’re having a good think about the team today and then we’ll let the girls know in the morning and do a little bit of tactical work around those players.”

on replacing Bunge…
“We’ve had to deal with being a central defender down. The one good thing now about having everybody available is that we do have options to play in there and options that we’ve tried already this season so we could easily drop ‘AJ’ (Amy Jackson) into there, Tiff (Eliadis) can drop in there, we know can do a good job in there, we can bring Emma Robers in, even Courtney, she showed playing at international level that she’s capable of playing there as well. With Lia (Privitelli) being fit now, we could easily move Courtney in and put Lia at left-back as well. It’s something we’re having a look, bit of a think about, we just wanted to have a look at the squad this morning, make sure everybody was fit and then we can shuffle the pack a little bit around that. The good thing now is we have everyone fit so we can play the team that we want to play, rather than the team that we have to play, so that’s great.”

on growth…
“In a few areas actually. I think we showed early on in the season that maybe we were a little bit vulnerable around the long ball and we’ve really, in terms of our defensive organisation, we’ve done a fair bit of work on that and very, very pleased the way the players have responded, not just the back four and the goalkeeper, but also our midfield players, our wide players, our strikers really. There are times in the game when everyone’s got to defend and as a team we look much more comfortable when we have to defend. There were times when we looked very, very good going forward, but we weren’t really comfortable when we had to defend. That’s an area of growth I’ve seen from day one to where we are at the moment. That’s been very, very pleasing, but also just in possession as well now the last three or four weeks, our options against different forms of defence, just our ability to break teams down and to play through, around or over, we were a little bit maybe easy to read earlier on in the season but now I just feel with us if a team sets up a certain way, we can find solutions quite quickly and change the way that we build in relation to the way that the team sets up against us. That is another area I’ve been really pleased with and obviously now we’re looking further forward and at the front we’re hoping that between now and the end of the season, that final third, runs into the box, final pass and obviously putting the ball away, which we start well on the weekend, that’s most probably the next area and the most important area so we can start killing games off a little bit earlier than we have done in previous games.”

on Sydney and importance of game…
“Sydney has set the pace early on, just what they did last year really. It’ll be a good indicator of where we are, maybe where we need to improve or the areas that we have really improved on once we come out of this game. I don’t think it’s anything more than that. Obviously if we want to win the title and win the Premiership, we’re going to have to beat Sydney and we’re going to have to beat them either this week or later on in the season. We’re not putting too much onus on the game, apart from we’re definitely going out to win the game and we definitely believe we’re good enough to win the game as well.”

Last time

Liberty A-League 2020/21 Grand Final
Sydney FC 0-1 Melbourne Victory
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Jubilee Stadium, Sydney

The last meeting between the teams was in the Grand Final in April.

Cooney-Cross curled in directly from a corner in the final minute of extra-time to secure the Championship for Victory.

Head to head

Grand Final, 2020/21: Sydney 0-1 Victory (aet) at Jubilee Stadium
Round 13, 2020/21: Sydney 2-1 Victory at Cromer Park
Semi Final, 2019/20: Victory 0-1 Sydney at Epping Stadium
Round 14, 2019/20: Victory 3-1 Sydney at Marvel Stadium
Round 1, 2019/20: Sydney 3-0 Victory at Jubilee Stadium