The Big Blue is easily the biggest game on the domestic calendar. Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC since season one has been a bitter rivalry unseen by anything else in Australian Sport. While the media and pundits try to make the Sydney and Melbourne derbies bigger, the Big Blue will always be the most hate filled game in Australian football.
And this seasons first edition of the big blue last night didn’t disappoint. A renewed Melbourne Victory with new manager Tony Popovic has finally brought the fans back to AAMI park now that they are once again a force in the league. And on the other side, Sydney FC on the back end of a dominant run with time running out for the club legend manager Steve Corica. This one was set up to be one of the best Big Blues of recent times.
Sydney FC came into the game on the back of a horrid run of form. A loss to the Mariners in the FFA Cup followed by a Draw to Brisbane and then another home loss to Perth in the league saw there manager under increasing pressure. And their task was made harder by the loss of 3 players to Socceroos duty. A loss here would surely increase the pressure from fans to move Corica on and look to the future, while a win could’ve brought him till the next major derby.
On the other side, the Victory were off a 17 day break so match fitness was going to be an issue. But with the strength and depth of there side it would be no problem for them compared to Sydney’s 4 games in the last 10 days. So both sides would struggle in the later stages of the game.
It was the Victory who would open the scoring despite a slightly dominant start to the game from Sydney FC. Ben Folami found the net after a beautiful cross field pass from Marco Rojas found him on the edge of the box. A well hit low shot across Sydney Keeper Tom Heward-Belle saw them take the lead before a scramble in the box from a corner would see Milos Ninkovic equalise for Sydney 20 minutes later.
The Victory started on fire in the second half, and a fantastic attacking move would see the ball fall again to Folami, but a fantastic save from the Heward-Belle would see the scores remain level to the amazement of Folamis teammates. After an end to end second half it would be the Victory who would take the lead in the 77th minutes after a beautiful pass into the box across the keeper would find the perfect run from Robbie Kruse to tap in in front of the home active. But there joy would be short lived when just 4 minutes later, Sydney’s Brazilian striker would find the net from a corner to level the scores yet again.
Despite both sides having decent chances to win the game, a volley from for Victory man Elvis Kamsoba would have to have been written on the script were it to go in, but the victory defence managed to get in from and block it before the keeper had to worry about it. How good would it have been for Sydney and the away fans for him to have scored the winner in Melbourne.
The game would end in a 2 all draw leaving myself and other Sydney FC fans confused. Obviously a loss the the Victory in the derby would’ve seen Corica removed as manager, but a draw leaves us in a state of limbo. The performance against Perth was horrid but agains the Victory, signs of the old Sydney FC were apparent. If they play that way against anyone in the league, the win is a fair chance. The problem has been the inconsistency of the performances. But if we as FC fans can take any positives out of this game, it’s that they squad still has the ability to perform against the best teams in the league, and that’s a huge positive.
Another positive for Sydney is the emergence of Tom Heward-Belle as a future number 1 keeper, hopefully more often this season. All we need is for Corica to not ruin the flow of games by making stupid substitutions when there not needed. Buhagiar looked menacing everyone he was on the ball last night and yet like Kamsoba against Brisbane he was pulled out in place of young striker Patrick Wood. He needs to realise that just because we have 5 subs to use in a match, he doesn’t have to use them FFS.
A draw in the Big Blue confuses both fan bases. Winning is everything in these derbies and now we have to wait until the next game for any bragging rights. All eyes for Sydney FC fans turn to this Sunday’s game against the Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt oval where yet again, a win is essential for the pressure to ease on Corica. While for the Victory, there next game will be an FFA Cup semi final against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.