Melbourne City FC's inaugural FFA Cup match kicks off on Tuesday night. Here are five points that will decide how the game unfolds.
Morshead Park in Ballarat will host the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 match with Melbourne City FC heading to familiar territory. The venue hosted John van't Schip's side in June when they beat Morshead's regular tenants the Ballarat Red Devils 6-0 and the Club will be looking to continue their winning ways at the ground when Sydney FC arrive.
The pristine surface will encourage both sides to play an attractive brand of football; however, conditions in Ballarat may favour the home side. Melbourne City FC has already experienced a winter’s night in Ballarat and would have factored that into their preparation.
Each side’s pre-season preparation has varied immensely in terms of travel and opposition. Sydney FC’s pre-season has seen Graham Arnold's side travel to New Zealand to face English Premier League sides Newcastle United and West Ham United. Newcastle flexed their muscle against their A-League opponent — running out 4-0 winners — however, the Sydney-siders shocked West Ham with a 3-1 victory.
Since arriving back in Australia, Sydney have faced New South Wales NPL opponents in local fixtures. The side has adapted well to the style Arnold has brought to the club but there are still questions over how well they have transitioned from the Farina handover in a short period of time.
Duff aiming for impact
After meeting up with the squad in the UK, Damien Duff has showed the Club what he can do in training and will be eager to show the Australian public what he is made of. The Irishman has adjusted well to life in Australia and since leaving the UK three weeks ago, has not lost any gloss off the sharpness he had back home. Duff will be the one to watch in Melbourne City FC’s front third.
Sydney strike absence...
Graham Arnold has confirmed that Shane Smeltz, Alex Brosque and international marquee Marc Janko will all miss the clash in Ballarat. Sydney’s strike force—which looks to be its strongest heading towards the upcoming Hyundai A-League season—will miss its main men in the front third. With 107 A-League goals between them, Smeltz and Brosque will not have the opportunity to combine their firepower on the field which may play a role in the Cup clash.
... but more where that came from
In saying that, the rest of Sydney FC’s forward line is not to be underestimated. Bernie Ibini will return to the side from Foxtel A-League All Stars duty and Sydney's in-form man during the pre-season has been Corey Gameiro. Gameiro scored against West Ham and starred in Sydney FC’s latest win against New South Wales NPL1 side Bonnyrigg White Eagles with the hard-working striker looking to continue his rich vein of form. Life after ADP will be a line that will follow Sydney FC for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season and its first test will be on Tuesday night.