We’re set for an entertaining must-win clash with Newcastle at C.B. Smith Reserve on Sunday. Ahead of the clash, we take a look at the key battle between two of the most influential players on the ground, Steph Catley and Gema Simon.
Melbourne City’s Steph Catley and Newcastle’s Gema Simon are two of the most experienced footballers in the league. With over 100 games each in the Westfield W-League, the two defenders have played an influential role in the league’s history.
As captains of their respective teams, their leadership, experience and drive to succeed sees them lead by example. Furthermore, the two fullbacks have the ability to fulfil their defensive roles as well as help their team drive forwards, with their ability to work tirelessly up and down the wing.
A three-time championship winning player with City, Catley continues to lead by example in City blue. Following an interrupted start to the 2018/19 campaign due to knee surgery, the 24-year-old has wasted no time finding her feet in her comeback, quickly establishing herself as one of Head Coach Rado Vidosic’s most influential and important players.
Simon, who has also suffered her fair share of injuries in recent times, has hit a solid run of form with the Jets, starting in all nine of her appearances this season. Due to her knee injury, Catley has played in four less games than her counterpart.
As attack-minded fullbacks, the quality of distribution that both players possess is vital. For City, Catley has played an important role on the left side of the field with her ability to attack the opposition’s defenders and find her teammates. Her efficiency with the ball at her feet has been on show, making 177 successful passes, 36 more than Simon who has played four more games.
Catley currently holds a pass percentage accuracy of 75 per cent, while Simon is currently travelling at 66.2 per cent. Both Catley and Simon have also demonstrated their ability to carry the ball, with Catley registering four successful dribbles and Simon six.
When it comes to the defensive side of the game, the numbers suggest that both players excel in different areas.
Catley’s speed combined with her ability to read the play ahead of her has seen her win seven tackles, make five interceptions and one block. For the Jets, Simon has demonstrated her strong ability to clear the ball from danger, making 24 clearances.
Although both teams will be relying on their respective captains in the defensive half on Sunday night, the player who is able to make the most impact in the attacking half could go a long way to influencing the result.
It’s all or nothing for City as they make a late finals push, but there is no doubt that they are in capable hands with Catley leading from the front.
City host Newcastle Jets at C.B. Smith Reserve on Sunday night, kick-off 7:30pm. Get your tickets here.