A-League mid-season report card: Sydney FC

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We are at the halfway stage of the 2020/21 A-League season – so now is the time to assess Sydney FC’s campaign so far.

 

Semester summary

In comparison to their recent dominance in A-League seasons gone by, Sydney have struggled this year.

They currently sit sixth on the ladder, which is well below the lofty standards set by the club who have won the past two A-League championships.

While they have the best defensive record in the competition, their issues have been on the other side of the pitch.

The Sky Blues have been creating chances and outplaying opposition defences more often than not – but have been wasteful in front of goal.

Kosta Barbarouses has been guilty of missing clear chances in numerous games, which has become a constant source of frustration for Sydney fans.

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Trent Buhagiar’s early season injury has also meant that manager Steve Corica has struggled to settle on a first choice partnership up front.

In truth, the departure of striker Adam le Fondre to India has impacted Sydney more than any other factor this year. They have sorely missed the striker, who was their top scorer in the past two A-League seasons.

The recent return of Brazilian striker Bobo has eased some of these concerns. He has looked sharp since returning, scoring three goals.

While Sydney may be sitting in sixth place, the league is tight – and Sydney have played less games than most teams in the A-League.

If Bobo keeps scoring – and Kosta Barbarouses finds his form – opposition sides will be  weary of Sydney returning to their best.

 

Areas of excellence

Defence. The Sky Blues have the best defensive record in the league. They have conceded just 13 goals in 14 games – and three of these have been from goalkeeping errors.

Skipper Alex Wilkinson continues to be one of the league’s most consistent defenders. His centre-back partnership with Ryan McGowan is arguably the best in the league, making Sydney a difficult side to break down.

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With the guile of Luke Brattan and the flair of Milos Ninkovic in midfield, Sydney continue to play a highly attractive, possession based brand of football.

The have outplayed teams in most games. The issue hasn’t been creating chances – it’s been their inability to covert them into goals.

Sydney rarely concede goals. If the their attackers start taking their chances and the team get on a winning run, Steve Corica will be confident that his side can go all the way again this season.

 

Areas in need of improvement

Finishing. Sydney have been creating clear-cut chances in most games, but have been wasteful in front of goals.

They have scored just 19 goals in 14 games and a low conversation rate for chances created from goal scoring opportunities is largely the reason they are sitting in sixth place and not higher.

The Sky Blues are missing a clinical striker. Before the season started, Steve Corica publicly stated he was confident that a strike force partnership of Kosta Barbarouses and Trent Buhagiar could take them all the way again.

But Barbarouses has scored just four goals (with one coming from the penalty spot), and Buhagiar has been injured for most of the season. Sydney fans will be praying that Bobo can find the form that gave him the record for the most goals scored in a single A-League campaign, in the 2017/18 season.

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Andrew Redmayne has also been out of form, and they need their keeper to regain his confidence if Sydney are to have any hope of continuing their recent success that has made them the team to beat in the past five years.

 

Top student

Milos Ninkovic. Despite being 36 years old, the Serbian maestro continues to be Sydney’s best player.

Although he has has only scored three goals this season, the attacking midfielder brings far more to his side than simply goals.

Everything good that happens at Sydney generally goes through ‘Ninko’ – and they look a completely different side when he is on the field.

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In the games when Ninkovic has been injured or rested, Sydney have struggled to create chances.

Keeping Ninkovic fit is imperative for Sydney if they are to be a genuine title contender again this season.

 

Class clown

Andrew Redmayne. Over the past three seasons, Redmayne has been one of the most consistent keepers in the A-League.

This season has been a different story. Redmayne has already made three clear errors leading to goals this season, which has cost Sydney four points.

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Steve Corica has kept faith in the hero from the 2018/19 A-League grand final, and has publicly stated that he is confident in his keeper regaining his form.

If Redmayne keeps making errors, Sydney have little hope in defending their A-League championship.

 

Grade

C

 

Outlook

While Sydney have had a poor start to the season by their high standards, the fact that they are creating chances and playing good football means they are still a title contender.

Good defence is the backbone to any championship team, and Sydney have the best defence in the league.

They also know what it takes to win. In the past five seasons they have won seven major trophies – and their is no disputing that they are a championship team.

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Steve Corica has consistently said that he is happy with the brand of football his side is playing, and the only thing missing is goals.

If Redmayne stops making costly errors, and their strikers can start firing, Sydney may have a chance of achieving the unprecedented three-peat of Australian domestic championships.

Sydney are a club who demand success. Although this is arguably their worst side in the past five seasons, it would be perilous to write off the Sky Blues as title contenders this early in the season.

Feature image credit: Jaime 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.
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