It might only be entering its eighth season, but there can be no doubting that the Sydney Derby is entrenched as one of the great sporting events in Australian sport.
While there have been many intense confrontations between the two clubs since the 2012/13 season, Saturday’s first derby of the season at Bankwest Stadium promises to be one for the ages for a number of reasons.
For the Wanderers faithful and players, it will be the first derby back at home at the new Wanderland, Bankwest Stadium – a state-of-the-art facility that is the pride of Western Sydney.
With a sell-out 30,000 crowd – majority Western Sydney fans – all but assured, a host of new players will also get to taste the intense rivalry, the power and the high intensity of a game that means so much to both clubs.
Adding more spice to the game – if that is even possible – is the fact that both sides have had unbeaten starts to the Hyundai A-League season in the opening two rounds.
The Wanderers have had their best-ever opening to a season, beating Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Wanderland before accounting for Melbourne Victory by the same margin last Friday night.
While the under-strength and slightly underdone Wanderers were not at their best against the Mariners, they showed great character to come from behind to take the three points with captain Mitchell Duke scoring both goals.
In stark contrast, the Red & Black produced a quality performance away to Melbourne Victory six days later with talented midfielder Keanu Baccus and marquee striker Alex Meier scoring sensational individual goals.
It was a display that excited their fans and had the critics glowing in their praise.
BROTHER V BROTHER
But, now comes a huge test against the defending Hyundai A-League champions who have opened the season with wins against Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix.
Sydney FC have had the better of the derbies over the past few seasons and will go into the game confident they can continue the trend. But, it’s a new season and a vastly different Wanderers they will be facing on Saturday.
There will be some interesting sidelights to the game:
- Wanderers defender Dylan McGowan will line up against his brother Ryan for the very first time in their careers
- Wanderers anchorman Matt Jurman will play against his old club and the same for Alex Baumjohann, who signed with Sydney FC after a season with the Red & Black
It all adds to what will be another cracking edition of the Sydney Derby.