Welcome to this week’s ‘How To Beat:’ – a weekly tactical preview of Western Sydney Wanderer’s opponent and how they can be beaten.

This week – Sydney FC. Let’s get right into it.


Sydney FC – Round 8 – Saturday 15th December, 7:50pm (ANZ Stadium, Homebush).


FFA Cup Semi-Final – Western Sydney Wanderers 0 – Sydney FC 3 (06/10/2018)

HAL Round 1 – Adelaide United 1 – Sydney FC 1 (19/10/2018)

See earlier How To Beat: Sydney FC here.

HAL Round 6 – Central Coast Mariners 1 – Sydney FC 2

HAL Round 7 – Sydney FC 1 – Wellington Phoenix 3


HAL Round 6 – Central Coast Mariners 1 – Sydney FC 2

I spoke about this match in length in last week’s edition (which can be found here) and I note that Sydney FC have not been their usual selves.

For large portions of this match, Central Coast looked to be the more dominant team.

A stupid challenge by Jack Clisby gifted an opportunity for Sydney FC to get back in the match and a lovely shot from distance (also widely unmarked) by Brandon O’Neill is what settled it for Sydney FC to secure the 3 points.

Sydney’s frustrations at certain times were on show and niggling fouls were being conceded such was the efforts by the Mariners.

There has been a bit of fanfare about the slight decline of Sydney FC’s dominance in the league and this match did nothing to put that claim to rest. Sydney looked lethargic and had an inability to tie it together. The effectiveness of Milos Ninkovic in recent matches hasn’t been the same as it had been in previous seasons.

I mentioned at the start of the season in the first edition of How To Beat that I am unsure of Steve Corica’s influence and experience at this level. It’s now been 8 rounds and Sydney FC are sitting in third. But, what we are starting to see is the chat surrounding Corica regarding his ability to transform this side onwards from Graham Arnold. Could this dip in form for Sydney FC be evidence of this?

One player giving Corica a large headache is Jop van der Linden. He is quite simply a liability in Sydney’s defence. It’s been three rounds where Jop has largely been the culprit in Sydney FC conceding goals. He left Matt Simon completely open in this match. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes the cut for the derby.

Sydney at the moment are far from being the compact, well-oiled machine that we used to know.

HAL Round 7 – Sydney FC 1 – Wellington Phoenix 3

For the first ten minutes of this match, Sydney FC have had a few attacking opportunities that didn’t come to fruition – mainly the Le Fondre chance in the 7th minute.

Since then, the Phoenix have enjoyed passing the ball around in Sydney’s half. At one point, they were able to do it freely with little to no pressure on the player in possession.

The Phoenix are also the stronger of the two in terms of shielding and controlling the ball when under pressure. A few times prior to the first goal, they were able to create opportunities out of nothing.

The first goal, was a result of the Phoenix directly against the counter. Their strong suit. They sucked in Sydney FC when Redmayne made a clearance and then Phoenix regained possession, played a neat 1-2-3 pass in the middle and found Krishna on a lovely run with an even better through ball that caught the home side out.

Something that must be noted is the use of Burns in this match – he sat a little bit deeper when the Phoenix had possession in Sydney’s half – he’s able to thread that final ball through between Sydney’s centre halves to find Krishna. If this space is afforded to the Wanderers; that is great news for both Baumjohann & Oriol Riera. In fact, Baumjohann in the Mariners match had created 4 chances (game high).

Second goal, again, van der Linden is caught out of position and Phoenix are able to play a lovely ball over the top for the ever-present-threat of Roy Krishna to put it away against an exposed Redmayne.

Third goal – van der Linden at fault yet again. Lovely ball by Cacace over the top for a timed run for Steven Taylor to nod it home.

Whilst van der Linden has been a disaster for Sydney FC, much has to be made of Brillante & O’Neill – their presence in the middle of the park should be to control the midfield third – they didn’t do this. The Phoenix were able to comfortable knock the ball around and get in to attacking positions on the counter with some relative consistency.


In the first edition of How To Beat, I mentioned that Sydney defend in a compact shape and choke the opposition down the wings. I also mentioned they win the midfield battle and counter with the opposition being caught up far too forward.

That is still their strength – though in the last three fixtures (if you include the Big Blue), they haven’t been as efficient. It’s almost as if a bit of laissez faire attitude has crept in. It has required individual chances to claw Sydney back in to matches they shouldn’t be in. It’s also been a result of opportunities of the opposition not being put away – something the Wanderer’s faithful know too well.


Patrick. F*&%ing. Ziegler.

Thank God he is decent! Because we still have some frailties in defence.

Patrick broke the record in the Mariners match for the amount of clearances (17)!! That is outright impressive for Patrick Ziegler but a major concern for Western Sydney.

When there are 17 clearances against an opposition such as the Mariners; it highlights a big problem – structurally, the Wanderers are not right.

Opposition continue to attack the space exposed between the wing backs and the centre back pairing. Hence my suggestion for a move to three at the back.

Having Tarek Elrich in his preferred position was a positive impact for both himself and the team. There were still times that he got caught out but not as often as I’ve noticed either Risdon or Llorente.

Elrich in the Mariners fixture had the foresight and experience to know when to stay deep or when to join the attack – we’ve been missing that from our wing backs. He was able to assess where Baccus and O’Doherty are and make a judgement call – we need that level of experience in our wingback position. We also saw the benefit of Kamau being allowed to do his role without a wing back constantly compromising his position.

In terms of the derby – we need to be aware of how well Sydney FC can switch the ball from the flanks. If they get frustrated down one wing, they will happily play back to Zullo or Grant to make the long cross and switch flanks. When Sydney do this, two things happen:

  1. They catch the opposition having to switch, therefore they are slow to meet the attacking threat; and
  2. They stretch the opposition out of position.

Sydney along with Perth & Melbourne Victory are great at doing this and we must be ready for it. If we see Sydney play back to their wing backs who are in a deeper position, acknowledge the switch and don’t get caught out.


We need to attack and isolate Jop van der Linden (if he plays).

Mark Rudan unlocked the way to beat Sydney FC last weekend – isolate Jop van der Linden. He has been responsible for at least 7 goals being conceded.

We need to see more of the same by Baumjohann – when he is in his desired position, he is the best player in the league. When he is dropping deep – he’s completely ineffective.

Again, I speak of structure and players understanding their roles. Having Ziegler return in defence has helped calm the storm and allow players to know their roles and to know when and where to expect the pass.

We need to see more of this – we also need to see Riera on van der Linden. Get in behind him, run off his shoulder, drag him out of position, etc. – he is there for the taking (if he plays).

We also need to win the midfield battle. As I mentioned earlier, both Brillante & O’Neill were suspect in the match against the Phoenix – we need to ensure we win all 50/50 challenges and shield the ball.


We must be aware of what Sydney FC can still do.

Yes, they lost 1-3 to the Phoenix and they haven’t been razor sharp as of late but that can change in the derby – we must prepare for a full strength Sydney FC as if they are in form as they could be the surprise packet and use us to play them back in to form.

NEXT WEEK: Adelaide United – Round 9 – Wednesday 26th December 7:50pm (Hindmarsh Stadium)

One thought on “HOW TO BEAT: Sydney FC

  1. Watching the Wellington game: I would suggest a 4-4-2 formation. Speed up front with Baumjohan’s through balls is the way to unlock the Smurfs defence.
    Add Majok as a second forward. Sotirio and Kamau can defend as well as attack thus they can compact the midfield whilst having 2 strikers messing with Van der Linden’s confidence.
    And have a bit of ‘Shoot Farken!’ Redmayne is vulnerable and panics with rapid decision making situations.

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