Can Sydney maintain their clinical edge?

Sydney FC are in prime position to secure their place in the A-League Grand Final in their bid to secure the crown for the second season on the bounce.

Steve Corica’s men finished second in the standings last term before thrashing Melbourne Victory in their semi-final contest. A tense battle ensued against the top side Perth Glory in the Grand Final in the Optus Stadium. After the two sides played out a goalless draw in 120 minutes of action, Sydney held their nerve when it mattered the most to secure a 4-1 victory in the penalty shootout.

Sydney are now the hunted team in the league, and although they are the leading contenders in the A-League betting odds at +110 to win the crown, the club will have to be at their best in the post-season to avoid the fate of the Glory to end the year as Premiership winners only. That’s the beauty of the playoff system – you can be flawless throughout the year, but one poor performance can undo all that hard work in an instant. Encouragingly for the club, they appear to have the clinical edge at both ends of the pitch.

The Sky Blues have time to get resettled in their remaining seven games of the campaign. Corica will be looking for his team to develop a rhythm in their attacking play that has allowed them to take control of the league. Sydney have averaged over two goals per game courtesy of the brilliance of Adam le Fondre in the final third. He has been deadly in and around the box, maintaining the high standards he set in the previous campaign. The 33-year-old has netted 17 times and is on course to better his 21 strikes from last year, highlighting his consistency and quality.

Kosta Barbarouses has provided an impressive foil for Le Fondre after signing from the Victory in the off-season. He has offered a goal threat and has created ample opportunities for those around him. The 30-year-old has bolstered the experience of Corica’s men, which will be more than useful down the stretch run.

At the other end of the pitch, the Sky Blues have been even stronger. Their discipline has been outstanding at the back, conceding only 16 goals in the campaign, notching six clean sheets in the process. Andrew Redmayne has been stout between the sticks, while Alex Wilkinson, Ryan McGowan and Ryhan Grant have rarely put a foot wrong in front of the keeper. Joel King has taken to the A-League like a duck to water and is a very exciting prospect at the age of 19.

Sydney have all the right elements of a team that will win the Grand Final once again. Corica and his team may not want to see Western Sydney Wanderers should they progress into the post-season. The Wanderers have inflicted two defeats on their city rivals this term both home and away along with a 1-1 draw on home soil in their last meeting. It proves the danger of one-off matches and why the Sky Blues must continue to operate at the peak of their powers to lift the A-League crown for the fifth time in their history.