Key Battle: Schenkeveld v van der Linden

Melbourne City FC host Sydney FC in their first home game of the season at AAMI Park on Friday. Ahead of the match, we take a look at the key numbers between two defensive Dutchman, Bart Schenkeveld and Jop van der Linden.

On paper Bart Schenkeveld and Jop van der Linden are very similar. They are both defenders, Schenkeveld is a 27-year-old and van der Linden is 28, the City man is commencing his second season in the A-League, while his counterpart is beginning his first. They have also spent most of their respective careers playing in the Netherlands.

Both players are crucial members of their respective teams, playing vital roles in the heart of defence.

Despite City and Sydney making changes to their roster over the offseason, they both remain equally as potent in the final third.

With two dangerous attacking thirds set to go head-to-head, the two Dutchman at the back will be crucial to their team’s performance.

Since joining City at the beginning of last season, Schenkeveld has been one of Head Coach Warren Joyce’s most important players. The central defender is quick, strong and accurate, and he’s also one of the most consistent performers in the competition.

So far this season the Dutchman has shown no sign of slowing down, with quality performances against both Melbourne Victory and Central Coast.

Similarly, much-like Schenkeveld’s first season in the A-League, van der Linden’s transition into the competition has been seamless.

In terms of numbers, Schenkeveld’s ability to read the play has again been on display. In the opening two rounds of the season, the City man has completed two interceptions, with his Sydney counterpart yet to register one.

In comparison, van der Linden has made 16 clearances, 10 more than his City counterpart, demonstrating his ability to sweep up at the back and clear the ball out of the danger area.

When it comes to distribution both players tend to influence the game with their passing ability. Van der Linden has made 120 successful passes, but averages 63.4% passing accuracy in the opponents’ half.

Schenkeveld may have made fewer passes with 78, but his passing accuracy is far superior highlighting his foot skills. He has an overall passing accuracy of 86.7% and a passing accuracy of 86.4% in the opponents’ half.

Each player has their own individual strengths that will go a long way to helping their respective teams on Friday night.

You can back van der Linden to clear the ball out of defence, but if there’s a one-on-one duel or a counter-attack, you’re backing Schenkeveld and his leg speed.

With a host of attacking class on display, both manager’s will be looking at their key defenders to have decisive performances.