This is it. The big one. La Gran Final. But the ramifications of a City win here extend far beyond the regular ecstasy of winning yet another W-League Championship; a victory against our fierce rivals Sydney FC would secure a record-fourth title, establishing Melbourne City as the outright most-successful W-League club in the competition’s 12-year history.
Here’s Talking City’s preview of the 2019/20 W-League Grand Final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC:
City drew first blood when these sides first met in a Grand Final back in our inaugural season in 2015/16. The game ended 4-1, with goals from Jen Beattie, Kim Little, Beattie Goad and Lisa De Vanna capping of a historic day for the club, with the title representing our first piece of senior silverware.
City won out again when the sides met in the 2017/18 Grand Final, with strikes from Jess Fishlock and Jodie Taylor securing the unprecedented Women’s ‘threepeat’.
In more recent times, it was Emily van Egmond who got us off to a flyer against the Sky Blues when she scored three minutes into our only clash of the 2019/20 campaign prior to the upcoming Grand Final. Sofia Huerta equalised later in the first half before Milica Mijatovic ultimately sealed the result for City with her typical brilliance in front of goal.
We knew from that start of the season that Sydney FC would once again be good enough to make a serious tilt for entry into the Grand Final and here they are.
The Sky Blues boast an unsurprisingly strong squad, with former-City player and experienced Matilda Alannah Kennedy, reigning NWSL Goalkeeper of the Season Aubrey Bledsoe, dynamite American midfielder Sofia Huerta and superstar attacking duo Remy Siemsen (2019/20 joint-Golden Boot winner) and Veronica Latsko some of the biggest names for City fans to be wary of.
Sydney’s ‘Big Blue’ semi-final against Melbourne Victory was played out last Saturday, with the game turning out to be a much tighter affair than the second semi-final that took place on the Sunday.
Despite Victory peppering Sydney’s goal more often, it was Latsko’s 15th-minute strike that would ultimately separate the teams in a game which has been described as very much a ‘cat and mouse’ encounter, with Sydney reportedly happy to cede possession to Victory.
Closer to home
Unlike the perpetually reliable form of our Men’s side, the City girls (particularly this season) have never really found consistency or mental fortitude to be an issue – they’re sure as hell not letting teams back into the game after leading 3-0 at half time.
On the injury front, the squad genuinely couldn’t be in better shape, with no known fitness concerns for any of those pushing for starting selection heading into this game, which raises the topic of another of the squad’s strengths: depth across the park like nothing we’ve seen before.
To emphasise this, City comfortably won its semi-final against a respectable Western Sydney outfit by a margin of 5-1, with the likes of Milica Mijatovic, Ally Watt and Rhali Dobson unable to be squeezed into the starting XI, providing unprecedented attacking firepower off the bench later in the second half.
Mijatovic has been incredible this season, scoring screamer after screamer from outside the box, whilst Ally Watt has been on fire in recent weeks, scoring twice against Brisbane and once against the Wanderers in Round 12. Rhali Dobson is also a proven W-League player who could probably find herself in the starting lineup of most other sides in the competition.
In terms of key players, you simply can’t go past Emily van Egmond for her game-changing influence with her ability to dribble past defenders, set up dangerous attacking opportunities with incisive passes and even to score from outside the box, which she’s proven on multiple occasions this year.
Wing-backs Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter are also central to the way that Rado Vidosic sets his side up to play, with the Matildas combining for eight assists between them thanks to their wicked crossing and Carpenter’s particular speciality of skipping past defenders at full speed while dribbling, a trait she demonstrated to incredible effect in the Semi when she set up several chances by doing so.
How you can watch
The spread of COVID-19 has certainly put a huge dampener on this weekend’s occasion. City fans won’t be able to provide the support that our legendary Women’s side deserves at AAMI Park this weekend, with the game forced to be played behind-closed-doors.
Whilst fans can’t attend in-person, the game will go ahead on Saturday, March 21, at 3:30pm with coverage of the match set to be provided by ABC TV, Fox Sports, Kayo and the MyFootball App.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to vocalise your support on social media. It’s probably the best alternative for supporting the girls given fans can’t physically attend. Make sure to use the club’s hashtag, #4history.
There’s something about this year’s City team. They’re just too good, too reliable, too consistent. Truly a class above every other opposition they’ve played, especially in the second half of the year. The squad is packed with genuine superstars from back to front, with some of these girls arguably amongst the best players in their position in the world.
There’s also just something about that very first Grand Final that’s calling out to us.
That’s it… we’re calling it. City 4-1 Sydney again.
Go on girls, bring it home.