TV presenter Lucy Zelic writes to the fans ahead of the Sydney Derby.
The Sydney Derby. There is no fixture in the Hyundai A-League calendar that is more highly anticipated or hotly contested between two teams.
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What makes these encounters so special is not only the rivalry between these two sides but the drama, atmosphere, passion and emotion are elevated to a completely different level.
This occasion cannot be likened to any other sport in the country because of the exemplary supporters, namely the Red and Black Bloc.
Regarded as the country’s strongest and most extraordinary fan base, which could contend with many of the clubs in Europe, the Wanderers ‘twelfth man’ is a highlight at any match.
On days like today though, they are something else. The tifos, chants and energy in the air all add to the spectacle and go into making it such a memorable experience.
Chief among this, is the pride that players from both sides play with. Short of the finals series and the grand final, there isn’t a fixture either side want to win more and with that desire comes an intense hunger, desperation and will to obtain the bragging rights to send the fans home happy.
This is what the Derby is all about and there is nothing the fans, players, coaches or even neutrals live for more. It also goes without saying that it has been such a remarkable season for the Wanderers thus far. Much of the credit needs to be directed at coach Tony Popovic for choosing to revolutionise the playing system.
As we know, football is such a rapidly changing game and Popovic’s decision to play a more proactive, highpressing, possession-based style is a sign of the times and one that fans have thoroughly enjoyed watching.
I have been so impressed with the way Spaniards, Dimas and Andreu dictate the midfield during matches or
how Nikolai Topor-Stanley makes those marauding runs forward – something we haven’t seen before.
Dutch winger Romeo Castelen has always been a solid addition to the Wanderers line-up but this season he has
truly flourished and his impact in a game has not gone unnoticed.
We hope to see more of this tonight against a Sydney FC side who are also gaining some solid momentum.
The last Derby between the two saw the Sky Blues emerge as the winners thanks to a goal in the 88th minute by Milos Ninkovic.
Based on the Wanderers recent form and the fact they are hosting the match at Pirtek, I dare say it’s time to level the scores here with a Western Sydney win.