Sixth spot and control of their Hyundai A-League Finals Series destiny is on the line when Western Sydney Wanderers host Wellington Phoenix tonight.
Both Wanderers and Phoenix have the chance to get back on track with maximum points at Spotless Stadium.
Put simply, this is the biggest clash of the season for both teams.
Sixth v seventh, a win to either team will ensure they finish the weekend in the finals positions. It’s that tight in the chase for six.
For the Wanderers, should the Jets lose to City on Saturday night, a win over Phoenix would propel them five points clear of their Kiwi rivals with just four rounds remaining.
And they will come into this clash full of confidence after securing an impressive 3-2 win over FC Seoul in the ACL on Wednesday night, their first points on the continental front this campaign.
The Wanderers enjoyed the weekend off in the A-League but the midweek trip to Korea could be a factor against the Phoenix.
And their task isn’t any easier with Sunday’s clash to be held at Spotless Stadium, a venue the Wanderers have failed to win at this season.
Meanwhile, Wellington haven’t played since March 4 and will have had two full weeks to prepare for the trip across the Tasman.
The Phoenix played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Glory at home in their last fixture and appear to be finding form after a patchy run of results.
After dropping trio Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry for disciplinary reasons three weeks ago, Des Buckingham’s side have responded with vastly improved performances against Roar (won 2-1) and Glory (3-3 draw).
Wellington will view this match as a must-win given they will be without Glen Moss, Roy Krishna, Andrew Durante, Tom Doyle, Michael McGlinchey and Shane Smeltz for next week’s clash with Newcastle Jets.
And with three of their last five matches away from Westpac Stadium, Wellington are going to need to find a way to pick up maximum points on the road.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Star Wanderers trio Nico Martinez, Brendon Santalab and Jumpei Kusukami saw little game-time against FC Seoul and should be fresh for the weekend.
Youngster Lachlan Scott netted his first goal in the Asian Champions League midweek and will be brimming with confidence, while little-used striker Ryan Griffiths failed to see any game time in Korea.
Classy attacking midfielder Terry Antonis continues to improve and was impressive against the K-League outfit, finding the target from the penalty spot to give Tony Popovic’s side a 2-0 advantage.
It will be interesting to see if the unpredictable Popovic will make many changes from his side’s midweek triumph or look to stick with a winning formula.
For Wellington, speedster Kosta Barbarouses will be out to prove a point after being left out of New Zealand’s squad for this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.
The former Victory star was a shock omission from Anthony Hudson’s squad last week and will want to put in a big shift to send a message to the Kiwi boss.
Brazilian playmaker Gui Finkler provided a much needed spark on his return from paternity leave last round and looms as a key outlet for the visitors in Sydney.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Wellington Phoenix
Spotless Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
Kick-Off: 7:00pm (Local) (7:00pm (AEDT))
Referee: Daniel Elder
Assistant Referee 1: Greg Taylor
Assistant Referee 2: Andrej Giev
Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live and Hawkesbury Radio
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WSWvWEL #FFW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 1.Jerrad TYSON (gk), 3.Jack CLISBY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Steven LUSTICA, 8.DIMAS (c), 10.Nicolás MARTÍNEZ, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 13.Bruno PIÑATARES, 14.Jumpei KUSUKAMI, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 18.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 24.Terry ANTONIS, 29.Ryan GRIFFITHS
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Steven LUSTICA (promoted), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (returns from injury)
Unavailable: Jacob MELLING (back – indefinite)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 99.Shane SMELTZ
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Jacob TRATT (returns from suspension), 13.Marco ROSSI (returns from injury)
This article was originally published at: www.a-league.com.au/article/hyundai-a-league-preview-western-sydney-wanderers-v-wellington-phoenix/vjxqwp4onz7c1qz6qcposhkyi