Willem van Denderen previews the first semi-final of the 2015 FFA Cup between Perth Glory and Melbourne City.
Perth Glory will host Melbourne City at nib Stadium on Wednesday night in the first semi-final of this year’s FFA Cup.
Perth will be looking to progress to their second cup final in two campaigns with a chance to reconcile last year’s final loss to Adelaide. The Glory have shown great persistence and a relative liking of extra time so far this campaign, with all three of their matches going beyond ninety minutes. Two of those matches, including last month’s quarter-final clash with Western Sydney which required penalties, will give them the experience and confidence should they again find themselves in the same scenario.
Kenny Lowe’s men will be desperate for success in this clash not only because of their heartbreak last time around, but because of their disappointing start to the A-League season. As the only side not to register a point after two rounds they sit last on the table so advancing to the final would go some way to atone up for the lacklusture start ti the league.
Of particular importance to the Glory’s fortunes are the ability of their front two, Diego Castro and GuyonFernandez, to find the net. Neither of these off-season acquisitions have troubled the scorers in their short time in Perth and having played with each other a handful of times now, Kenny Lowe needs his imports to fire.
Whilst Perth have scrapped and ground their way to the semis, City by comparison have breezed into the final four. The Melbournians have banged in twelve goals whilst conceding just two, a sign that the often inconsistent club may finally be shaking that tag. John van’t Schip’s men will be looking to ensure an all-Victorian final with an away win, a scenario which looks very possible given their promising start to the domestic season.
City have controlled play for significant periods in both of their opening A-League matches, and displayed high level skill on two occasions to find the net in Saturday’s Melbourne Derby defeat. Solidity at the back in veteran keeper Sorensen and youthful exuberance in Kuzmanovski and Espindola among others has been added to the midfield prowess of Mooy and Paartalu. The side look more balanced than ever before, and on paper should be too strong for the Glory.
However fitness and concentration remain worries for City, aspects Perth have demonstrated on numerous occasions they possess. Add in Perth’s home ground advantage and a winner becomes very difficult to predict.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. CHRIS HAROLD: The young attacker has proven he is good enough for this level of competition. The next step for Harold is to consolidate his position as Perth’s first choice striker. He has played out wide and been substituted off in the first two A-League matches this season with imports Fernandez and Castro preferred centrally. With two FFA Cup goals to his name he will be looking to add more here and push himself ahead of his foreign competition.
2. AARON MOOY: Arguably the most in-form Australian footballer currently, Mooy seems to improve every time he turns out for City. Having played a lone hand for much of last season he is clearly relishing the assistance his improved City teammates are providing him, his six goals in the competition are testament to his newfound attacking liberties. Demonstrated he can still defend at stages where his side were under siege from Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, at stages the only man on his side willing to hold the ball and slow play.