The Christmas Derby is upon us. Ahead of the match we take a look at the key battle between two attacking midfielders, Riley McGree and Terry Antonis.
Youngsters Riley McGree and Terry Antonis have begun the 2018/19 Hyundai A-League season in impressive fashion. The Australian duo have played important roles for their respective teams this season, as they continue to showcase their attacking capabilities.
Similar in a sense that they have no fear of the occasion, both players have demonstrated their ability to perform on the biggest stage.
For City, 20-year-old McGree scored the match-winner against Melbourne Victory with his first touch in his league debut in City blue. Since then, the youngster has continued to blossom, creating chances for his teammates and presenting as a threat in the attacking third.
Consistency has seen both players feature in all eight rounds of the season to date. In that time, both McGree and Antonis have demonstrated their ability to find the back of the net from midfield. The City man has netted two goals this season from five shots on target, while Antonis has three goals to his name from six shots on target.
McGree has proven that he rarely wastes a shot on goal, consistently testing the goalkeeper or finding the back of the net, this is reflected in his key statistics with a current shooting accuracy percentage of 71.4 per cent, in comparison to Antonis on 46.2 per cent.
Aside from their ability to find the back of the net, both McGree and Antonis have played key roles at playmakers this season. In the opening eight matches of the season, Antonis has three assists and McGree one. In terms of key attacking passes, Antonis has 11 and McGree has made seven, both players with key contributions in this area.
Perhaps McGree’s greatest strength is his ability to carry the ball within the attacking third, so far this season he has made an impressive 19 successful dribbles, 12 more than Antonis. McGree’s dancing feet and ability to skip past defenders with ease may explain why he has been fouled on 13 occasions.
As midfield players, distribution is key for both McGree and Antonis. In saying that, both players have demonstrated their ability to make the most of each possession. McGree is currently travelling at a pass percentage accuracy of 81.7 per cent, 4.9 per cent more accurate than Antonis. While in the opponents’ half, the City midfielder currently holds a pass accuracy percentage of 74.9 per cent, 7.5 per cent more accurate than his opponent.
While McGree has only been at the City Football Academy for a short period of time, the City attacker has wasted no time make his impact felt at his new Club, quickly adapting to the style of play in what has proven to be a seamless transition into Head Coach Warren Joyce’s side.
As one of City’s most dangerous players in the attacking third, there is no doubt that the Australian youngster will be looking to again add to the scoresheet in his second Melbourne Derby in City blue.
Equally determined to influence the result will be Terry Antonis, but which player grasps the moment remains to be seen.
With a host of talent set to take the field alongside both McGree and Antonis, we are set for a thrilling Christmas Derby at AAMI Park on Saturday night, kick-off 7:50pm (AEDT).