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Perth Glory vs Sydney FC

On the surface of this game it looks like an extremely unlucky one for Sydney FC. A 1-0 loss where the one goal came from a penalty that never should have been given due to the player being offside. But looking deeper Sydney got the result they deserved for lackluster defense and an attack that while they created a lot of opportunities left a lot to be desired.

The match started positively from Sydney FC with them producing numerous opportunities  with corners and positive attacking play. But it was all soon undone after a Perth counter turned into a penalty with Janjetovic very lucky to not receive a red card for a hit on Nagai who the replays showed to have received the ball in an offside position. Sydney kept up a strong attack from there, constantly putting pressure on the Perth defense and getting shots off. But unfortunately no one was able to find the goal. It was a frustrating half with the best chance coming from a Marc Warren cross that almost snuck its way into the net. Though bad finishing and choices in the final third weren’t only Sydneys problem with Perth botching numerous attacks themselves, though generally on the counter. With Thiago and Ryall getting caught on numerous occasions. That the first half ended with only one goal coming and that goal from the penalty shot was amazing.

The second half started in much the same way with Sydney attacking more. WIth Garcia failing to hit the target with a strong header and other attacks. In the 62nd minute the moment every Sydney fan had been waiting for happened, Del Piero came on for the first time since his injury and with the way Sydney were opening up Perths defence it was looking likely that the introduction of Del Piero would be the catalyst to get them a goal. But in what was a tactical blunder they pulled off Nicky Carle one of the main creators to introduce Del Piero. Over the next 4 minutes Sydney cleared their subs with Yau and Naumoff coming on for Chianese and Warren respectively to set themselves up to go on the attack even more. Attack they did, over the remaining 20 minutes they unleashed attack after attack to try and score a goal to at least secure a draw. With Yau making a few shots with little strength behind them and the keeper having a relatively easy day even with the amount of shots he had to contend with. All this attacking let Perth make numerous counters with Shane Smeltz scuffing a strong chance and putting it over and the Perth attackers finding consistent gaps in the defence. But such was the way of the match with both teams failing in the final third the final whistle blew and the score remained 1-0 as it had since that 9th minute penalty.

Sydney will really need to look inwards to try and find a way out of this rut. Though they showed signs of improvement with strong attacks, the lack of finishing is quite the worry. If they don’t turn their fortunes around soon quite a few members of the coaching staff and players will be worrying about their jobs.

Sydney FC vs Western Sydney Wanderers

It was a game that had the makings of a classic. It was played in front of a record breaking crowd of over 40,000 and both ends were blue and red respectively.  Western Sydney coming off of solid draw in round 2 and looking to give their season a kick start. While Sydney coming off a huge loss to Brisbane trying to use home advantage to get their season back on track; they were also hoping to show that they aren’t a one man team as so many pundits claim with their star Del Piero out for the match.

Though any hopes of a good night for Sydney fans were dashed quickly when in the 11th minute La Rocca scored with Shinji Ono scoring not long after in the 26th minute. While Sydney FC dominated the possession stats they couldn’t attack and were stuck in their own half most of the match and when they did manage an attack WSW were able to exploit them on the counter. The best opportunity for Sydney came from a Petkovic who fired a shot into the crossbar in the 35th minute. Sydney were thankful that the first half ended and they could go and regroup.

Though while WSW couldn’t score again in the second half they still dominated the half. It was only some woeful finishing and solid keeping that kept the Wanderers from scoring many more. Though, Sydney can take heart that they at least managed more efforts on goal this week then they did last week. Lots of yellow cards and bad plays from both sides decorated the second half and when the match ended WSW were the much happier side.

It was a dreadful performance from Sydney and the woes for them were compounded when a fan favourite in Rhyan Grant went off injured in the first half adding to an already long injury list. It’ll take a lot to get Sydneys season back on track after the last two performances and Farina will be worried about his position, though the amount of injuries might buy him some leeway with the board.

Sydney FC vs Brisbane Roar

While the match started off positively for both sides, within 10 minutes the result had become obvious. Brisbane just dominated possession and were making all the attacking moves. Whenever Sydney got their hands on the ball they resorted to long balls and counters for all their attacking options. Marc Warren found himself very lucky in the 20th minute to not receive a red card after a very bad foul only a minute after receiving his yellow card. Even though Brisbane were dominate, they couldn’t crack the defence of Sydney and the goal keeping of Janjetovic. At the 26th minute Berisha came off which looked to stunt the offensive capabilities of Brisbane, but after Del Piero came off in the 30th minute and all attacking flair left Sydneys line up it was as if a switch had been flipped. During the 15 minutes that followed Brisbane were all over Sydney and after an Abbas foul which led to a Broich free kick which was headed away for the first Brisbane goal the game was essentially over. But Brisbane then scythed through Sydneys defence two more times in the half with horrible defence allowing Henrique to tap in off his knees and a good run and finish by Jade North giving Brisbane their 3rd putting the result beyond any doubt before the first half was even done.

The second half Brisbane started where they left off and dominated proceedings. With Janjetović saving numerous shots on goal and others stopped due to offside. Though Janjetovic should consider himself lucky to not have conceded a penalty in the 65th minute when a wrongful offside saved his bad challenge from being looked at any further. When Mitch Malia came on in the 71st minute some positive play from him started, but they still couldn’t find any attacking flair or combinations; with Malia providing their only shot on target for the match. Even though Brisbane kept up their attacks it wasn’t until the 80th minute that Broich managed to score the 4th goal they deserved for so long. That was the last goal of the match even though Brisbane kept finding massive holes in their defence and after 90 minutes the match was called off with Sydney considering themselves lucky to have only conceded four.

This match will raise lots of questions over Sydneys ability to travel and their ability to play without Del Piero, while it will also assure Brisbane as a team to be worried about and it sends a clear message to the other clubs. Especially given they didn’t have Berisha on for the majority of the match.

Sydney FC vs Newcastle Jets

First Half:

It was a very one sided first half with Sydney FC controlling the  run of play even with less possession. The Sydney defence was on the money in the first half, defusing all the major Newcastle attacks. Newcastle only had one shot in the entire first half, which they missed. While Sydney FC have looked strong and positive in their attacks and while they’ve had a few misses with the last passes and through balls overall they’ve been in control. With shots on goal coming from different sources including a magnificent shot from Matt Thompson which just went over the bar in the 24th minute. Sydneys first goal came after Zenon Caravella got the first yellow card of the season after fouling Garcia. The ball went to Del Piero who made a storming run down the left side, before showing up the defenders with Caravella looking to impede his other defenders, before a stretched shot which made it into the back of the net. Newcastle looked to counter, but never looked comfortable in the final third and Sydney were looking good on the counter attack. With another amazing effort coming from Del Piero in the 43rd minute just missing over the top of the net. The first half ending 1-0 in Sydneys favour but looking unlucky to not have scored at least a couple more.

Second Half:

The second half went much the same way as the first. Though Newcastle had a lot more attacking chances and looked positive at different periods and never looked like giving up. Sydney also played quite positively. After a slow start to the second half with neither team really attacking. With minor attacks coming from both squads. Del Piero and Carle holding up the Sydney midfield. Joel Chianese in the 60th minute, assisted by del Piero scored the second goal of the match, giving Sydney a 2-0 lead which they’d see out until the end.  After the second goal Newcastle started attacking a lot more. Matt Thompson came off in the 68th minute and would consider himself unlucky to come off the field without a goal after a very strong match. Newcastle then missed a few more chances before Sydney looked certain to score, Garcia putting it into the back of the net after a few rebounds saved by the keeper, only to be denied due to Chianese’s final pass being from an offside position. Garcia was then pulled from the field to allow Mitchell Malia to come on, another player who would consider himself unlucky to not have bothered the scorers. The last sub saw the debut of Chris Naumoff to help see out the last three minutes of the match and see Sydney to their first win of the 2013-14 season.

Overall:

It was a positive match from Sydney FC, the Newcastle attack couldn’t make inroads in their defence. The Sydney attack looked great and made a lot of attacking options through both Carle and Del Piero creating opportunities with the likes of Chianese and Abbas helping create on the sides. It is a good sign for Sydney, as they have a lot of injuries and will only improve as the year goes on.

Man of the Match: Alessandro Del Piero – Easily wins the man of the match, scoring a beautiful solo effort goal deceiving defenders and the goal keeper. Creating the opportunity and getting the assist from Chianese’s goal. Not to mention his other close efforts and general up front display. If he keeps this form up it all bodes well for Sydney from here.

Sri Lankan All Time XI

I figure I will count backwards from newest test country to oldest and as I have already done Bangladesh and Zimbabwe it’s time to get a start on the next oldest team, Sri Lanka. Once again the rules for qualification are 20 test wickets for the bowlers and 20 test innings for batsmen. It will also contain two spin bowlers.

1. Sanath Jayasuriya

On of the most well known batsmen Sri Lanka has ever produced who changed opening in ODI’s forever with his aggressive style and stroke play. While his success in the ODI arena never quite translated the same in the test arena. He is still the most successful opener Sri Lanka have produced in terms of runs. As an opener he also scored the first triple century for Sri Lanka. Extravagant batting aside, Sanath was also handy with the ball finishing up with 98 test wickets to his name.

2. Marvan Atapattu

Sanath’s partner in crime at the top of the order. He was in many ways the opposite to Jayasuriya with his cautious nature and calculated stroke making when batting. He also had a way of converting his starts with no less then six double centuries to his name. Averaging 43 opening the batting with 16 centuries to his name, the most of any Sri Lankan opener. Atapattu is undoubtedly the most consistent opener Sri Lanker have ever had.

3. Kumar Sangakarra

Sangakarra is one of those rare batsmen that makes batting look easy. He can play either aggressively or defensively and never look in trouble. Every shot seems to come naturally to him. He is undoubtedly the best batsmen Sri Lanka have produced and arguably the best batsmen of the modern era. He has the best average of any modern batsmen and that’s including matches where he also kept wicket. In matches without the dual burdens his average jumps even higher to be the second best ever behind only Bradman. He has scored over 150 against every test nation. I could rattle off the numbers all day and it still wouldn’t do his batting justice.

4. Mahela Jayawardene

Another elegant stroke maker. Jayawardene has scored the most runs for Sri Lanka with almost 11,000 runs to his name and he has hit 31 centuries at an average a tick below 50. While Sangakarra is undoubtedly the best. Jayawardene would make a very strong claim for second and at his best could look Sangakarras equal. He has Sri Lankas highest ever test score to his name with 374 which was scored against South Africa in a match where he and Sangakarra shared a 600 run partnership.

5. Aravinda de Silva

De Silva was the first in a long line of attacking and elegant stroke makers that Sri Lanka have produced. Starting his career in 1984 he was soon established as one of the best batsmen in the squad. He could play a large range of shots and was always seeking to entertain. He ended up with 20 centuries at an average of just under 43.

6. Thilan Samaraweera

One of the unsung heroes of the Sri Lankan middle order. Always over shadowed by the other big names he has played around such as Sangakarra and Jayawardene. As well as the perceived flaw that he couldn’t play well overseas and being a flat track bully, though it was his batting that got Sri Lanka their first win in South Africa. Though an average just under 50 and 14 test centuries I think say it all about his ability with the bat. The more classical batsmen in a team of aggressive and exciting batsmen.

7. Prasanna Jayawardene

Jayawardene is a player who after looking so promising fell victim to the major rise of Sangakarra. Whose desire to play only as a batsmen eventually led to Prasanna establishing himself as the first choice keeper for the Sri Lankan squad. He is crafted more from the old mould of a wicket keeper, where his keeping ability is his main asset. Always handy behind the stumps with the gloves he is the second most successful keeper behind Sangakarra in terms of dismissals per innings. His batting average is also nothing to be scoffed at with almost 2000 test runs and 4 centuries to his name.

8. Muttiah Muralitharan

The best off spinner cricket has ever seen and he has a strong case at being the best spinner ever. 800 test wickets, 67 five wicket hauls, 22 10 wicket match hauls. All at an average of 22, while some claim this is padded by numerous games against the minnows of world cricket. He still performed admirably against all opposition with his best match haul coming against England 16/220 with a best innings haul of 9/65. Whether home or away he was an amazing spinner and able to deceive even the best players of spin.

9. Rangana Herath

An unlucky man who spent most of his career in Muttiah’s shadow. In his early career he was seen as the supporting act and just holding an end while the main man at the other end did the damage. But after Muralitharans retirement Herath came into his own and showed everyone what he could do. Becoming one of the best spin bowlers in the world, including an amazing 2012 where he topped the wicket taking charts with 60 at an average of 23. He has taken 200 wickets in test matches now, one of three Sri Lankan bowlers to reach that milestone.

10. Chaminda Vaas

The most successful pace bowler Sri Lanka have produced. A man who could bowl swing and seam with equal skill and was capable of bowling in any conditions. He was the lynchpin of Sri Lankas bowling in their first overseas win against New Zealand and with Muralitharan gave Sri Lanka a potent bowling attack that could tackle any batting line up in the world. He wasn’t a slouch with the bat either, scoring 13 half centuries and even a test century.

11. Lasith Malinga

The most promising pace bowler Sri Lanka has produced since Vaas and has mostly lived up to that hype in the limited overs formats of the game. His slingy action while bringing controversy has proven greatly successful in all forms of the game. Though his test career was cut short due to a knee condition which affected his career he still managed over 100 test wickets.