Sydney FC A-League preview 2020/21

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As a new season looms for the A-League’s premier club, success will be expected of the Sky Blues.

Last season…

A-League: 1st
Finals: Grand final winner
FFA Cup: Round of 32

They’ll win the league because…

They almost always do. Sydney FC are the reigning champions and premiers and the most successful side in A-League history. The Sky Blues have won seven major trophies in the past four years and they’ve been winning with a stylish swagger. Coach Steve Corica has engraved a ruthless mentality in a squad that remains largely unchanged and knows what it takes to win titles.

The team also has a good balance between young and old, with promising youngsters such as Calem Nieuwenhof complementing veterans who have won it all like Ryan Grant and Alex Wilkinson. Having arguably the league’s best player in Milos Ninkovic doesn’t hurt either. Sky Blues fans should rightfully expect another successful season.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Whilst it may seem highly unlikely for Sydney FC to do anything other than continue dominating the A-League, the departure of striker Adam Le Fondre to India is a massive loss. The Englishman scored 20 goals last season and their next best scorer was Kosta Barbarouses with seven, but the winger looked out of form during the recent AFC Champions League campaign.

Sydney’s lack of wins in the ACL could be a pointer to potential problems for the Sky Blues, where goals were at a premium. As the search for a new striker continues, high hopes will rest with 22-year-old Trent Buhagiar. But can the young speedster fulfil his promise and fill the void left by Le Fondre?

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Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

The last side to win three consecutive Australian domestic premierships was Sydney City in the old National Soccer League in 1982. Can Sydney FC make history by becoming the first team in A-League history to achieve the illustrious three-peat?

The off season brought… 

Aside from the loss of top scorer Le Fondre, the squad remains mostly unchanged, but the recent AFC Champions League campaign highlighted the side’s issues in front of goals. The one shining light was Buhagiar who was arguably the side’s best player of the campaign. Nonetheless, Buhagiar is injury prone and yet to fully prove himself in the A-League.

Sydney may need to buy a clinical striker if they are to achieve the three-peat. Corica has said the club is searching for a replacement striker, but tighter salary cap restrictions have impacted a new signing.

Sky Blues fans should expect some news regarding a new signing before the start of the season. Rumours persist it could be their former Brazilian striker, Bobo.

Key player

Ninkovic. The attacking midfielder has been the best player for the Sky Blues during their period of dominance. The Serbian is 35-years-old but has shown no signs of slowing down. He brings flair to the team and is extremely consistent. When Ninkovic plays well, Sydney FC generally win.

Although he only scored six goals last year, Ninkovic brings far more than goals. Nearly everything good that Sydney FC produce goes through the Serbian. The midfield maestro is the clock that keeps the team ticking and ‘Ninko’ always plays with a smile on his face and is a joy to watch for any football fan. The re-signing of Ninkovic last year for a further two seasons was music to the ears of Sydney FC fans

Success for Sydney will once more largely depend on Ninkovic staying healthy. If he does, Sydney FC will likely enjoy another fruitful season.

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One to watch… 

Buhagiar. He’s young, he’s fast and he’s starting to bang in goals.

He joined the Sky Blues in 2018 as a replacement for Sydney FC legend Alex Brosque. However, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the 2018-19 season, prompting Brosque to play out one more season – which culminated in yet another premiership.

It is now Buhagiar’s chance to shine. Corica has stated that he will be given the chance to lead the line this season, and Buhagiar has said that he wants to make the spot his.

Buhagiar has been in blistering form of late, scoring five goals in Sydney’s’ six ACL games, making him the side’s top scorer in the ACL and showed that Buhagiar is maturing into a deadly striker. If he can stay fit and keep taking his chances in front of goal, Sydney FC may have a ready-made replacement for Le Fondre.

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Ins: Calem Nieuwenhof, Anton Mlinaric, Adam Pavlesic, Calem Talbot (all promoted from Sydney FC Youth)

Outs: Adam Le Fondre, Marco Tilio

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Thomas Heward-Belle, Adam Pavlesic, Andrew Redmayne

Defenders: Patrick Flottmann, Rhyan Grant, Joel King, Ryan McGowan, Anton Mlinaric, Callum Talbot, Harry Van der Saag, Ben Warland, Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo

Midfielders: Alexander Baumjohann, Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres, Calem Nieuwenhof, Milos Ninkovic, Paulo Retre, Chris Zuvela

Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Trent Buhagiar, Luke Ivanovic

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Adam Sheldon
Full time football addict. Passionate about any sport with balls. Covering Sydney FC A-League and W-League teams for the upcoming season.
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