W-League mid-season report card: Sydney FC

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With just over half of the regular season fixtures played, now is the perfect time to assess Sydney FC’s title chances.

Semester Summary: Top of the league, with six wins and just one loss from seven games is no mean feat.

Sydney always demand success but many thought it would have been tougher this season, as the side lost a host of international stars.

Ante Juric has further proved his worth as a top coach. New signings Clare Wheeler and Cortnee Vine have fitted seamlessly into his young squad and many players have already spoken of the camaraderie in the team.

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Before Sunday’s game against Brisbane Roar, Sydney had won six games on the trot to start the season – and conceded just one goal.

Despite losing to Brisbane, Sydney still sit on top of the league and are very much serious title contenders.

Areas of excellence: Consistency. Juric favours a 4-3-3, something he has deployed in every game. He was a highly technical defender in his time, which shows in the Sky Blues style of play.

His side always looks to play out from the back, and they move the ball quickly. They also play a highly attractive style of football.

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Barring Sydney’s loss to Brisbane, their defence had been rock-solid. While Juric has had to use a variety of centre back pairings and even moved midfielder Nat Tobin into defence due to injuries, they still have the second best defensive record.

In the middle of the park, Teresa Polias remains consistent. She is the midfield anchor any coach would love to have. She plays a vital role in Juric’s attacking formation, consistently making key interceptions and challenges that turns defence into attack.

And there is the lethal front three. Remy Siemsen, Vine and Princess Ibini-Isei are all blessed with electric pace. They have kept defenders busy all season, scoring nine goals between them.

Areas in need of improvement: Experience. Sydney have a young squad. Their only loss of the season so far came against an experienced Brisbane side, who punished every mistake that Sydney made.

If Sydney are going to go all the way this year, their young squad needs to learn that in big games against quality opposition, small errors can be costly.

Top student:  Polias may not get lauded on the same level as some of the Sky Blues strikers on a weekly basis, but she has played well in every game.

She rarely loses the ball, misplaces a pass or mistimes a tackle. She gives Juric’s 4-3-3 formation balance.

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Despite standing at just over five feet tall, Polias consistently proves the point size does not matter in football. She dominates much larger players on a week-to-week basis, with an uncanny ability in reading the game.

She is the clock that keeps Sydney ticking, and everything good that happens in the side generally starts with Polias.

The Kindergarten teacher is also the club’s inspirational captain, recently playing her 150th game for the club. She leads a very young squad. If Sydney are to go all the way this year, much will rest on the shoulders of Polias’ performances and continued leadership.

Needs improvement: Ibini-Isei. It must be said this was a hard decision, as every Sydney player has performed well this season.

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Despite this, she is a Matilda and many fans would love to see her score more goals. She has scored twice this season, but her proven ability in past seasons means she can do better.

Grade: A

Outlook: Sydney can win the league this season. They have an extremely balanced squad and are also blessed with considerable depth.

Matilda Rachel Lowe has had to settle for a place on the bench for much of the season – such is the competition for places.

Juric has instilled belief into his young team. They look a happy bunch and are playing a dynamic style of football.

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The only area that may stop his side winning the premiership is a lack of experience. The W-League’s finals system mean that Sydney must produce top performances when the big games come around.

Their recent loss to Brisbane highlighted that Sydney’s young squad are not perfect, and they must be ready mentally in knock out games.

Juric and Sydney will still consider anything less than a premiership trophy as failure this season.

Feature image credit: Jamie Castaneda

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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.