Four things Perth Glory need to do to win the Grand Final
Perth Glory have the chance to complete the fairytale when they host Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final at Optus Stadium (kick-off 4.30pm AWST, 6.30pm AEST).
There is a growing sense of excitement and expectation in the west this week but toppling the Sky Blues to get their hands on a long-awaited Championship trophy will not be easy.
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Glory have a poor record against the boys from the Harbour City, who will be riding a wave of confidence following their Semi Final thrashing of Melbourne Victory last weekend.
But Tony Popovic’s side have created history throughout the 2018/19 campaign and here’s what they need to do generate a little more on Sunday night.
Don’t worry about the past
In recent seasons, coming up against any team in a sky blue jersey has ended in pain for Perth Glory.
Sydney FC have been the WA club’s bogey side in recent years, with the team from the Harbour City winning 10 of the last 11 clashes between the two sides, including two out of three this season.
Throw in the fact that coach Tony Popovic went to three Hyundai A-League Grand Finals as boss of Western Sydney Wanderers – and lost each time – and there may be a few doubts starting to bubble under the surface.
Of course, what’s gone before isn’t going to have a bearing on Sunday’s result and that’s something the players – and coach – must keep in mind.
Turn Optus Stadium into a cauldron
While this will be only Glory’s second match at the venue – after their pre-season friendly against Chelsea – there’s no doubt they need to capitalise on home-ground advantage.
A crowd of around 50,000 is likely to be inside Optus Stadium come kick-off and the majority of those will be right behind the men in purple.
It’s sure to be an intimidating atmosphere for the Sky Blues to deal with and it might just give Glory players the extra bit of energy and confidence to get over the line.
It was a similar situation for Adelaide United at Adelaide Oval in 2016, with a sell-out crowd helping them defeat the Wanderers 3-1 in the decider. Can history repeat itself on Sunday night?
Embrace the occasion
While most of this Glory squad have experienced big games before, not many know what it’s like to taste success in the biggest match on the Hyundai A-League calendar.
Right wing-back Ivan Franjic is the only player in the Glory squad to have won a Hyundai A-League Championship, during his time with Brisbane Roar.
Given many of the players in the Sydney FC side were part of the club’s title-success two seasons ago, they know what it takes to win on the final day of the campaign.
If Glory’s players can deal with the pressure and perform to their best in front of an expectant home crowd, it will go a long way towards getting the right result.
Cut off the supply to Sydney’s fullbacks
They may not generate the headlines like Adam Le Fondre, Milos Ninkovic and Siem de Jong, but there’s no doubt Sydney FC’s fullbacks are vital to their chances of victory.
Rhyan Grant and Michael Zullo get through a mountain of work, firstly in their defensive duties but also for what they give the side going forward.
The pair provide the width in Sydney’s game, overlapping down the flanks at every opportunity and playing killer crosses into the box.
It’s a huge arsenal in the Sky Blues’ game-plan and if Glory can shut those two down, they’ll go a long way to blunting the visitor’s attacking threat.