ROUND of 16
All matches Wednesday August 26, 7.30 pm
Adelaide United v Sydney FC
Inaugural FFA Cup champions Adelaide United host Sydney FC in one of two all-A-League Round of 16 clashes. Both sides enjoyed straight-forward Round of 32 ties against state league opposition to get here with the Reds defeating Darwin Olympic 6-1 while Sydney were made to work for a 2-0 away win over WA side Sorrento FC.
The defeated A-League Grand Finalists will have some extra incentive for a win with Adelaide knocking them out of the competition last year in the Quarter Final stage on their way to the title.
With both sides going through some big personal changes over the offseason this clash will be used to fine-tune their preparations for the start of the league campaign.
This promises to be one of the most intriguing battles in the Round of 16 with punters getting a good look at how both clubs are faring ahead of Season 11 of the A-League. Even at this stage of the year both Sydney and Adelaide are predicted to go far in the league so this match should be a good guide as to how they are travelling ahead of the start of the season.
The Reds have an impressive recent record over Sydney with five wins in the last nine encounters with two draws. It was the Sky Blues however who triumphed the last time they played with a 4-1 win in last season Preliminary Final that book their spot in the decider.
Heidelberg United v Sydney United
Heidelberg United have enjoyed a stellar 2015 so far and look to continue it when they host Sydney United. The Bergers finished third in the NPL Victoria season and will face Pascoe Vale in this Sunday’s elimination final. They impressed in their opening FFA Cup game against Broadmedows Magic and will be keen to see their fine form continue.
It’s been quite the opposite in the league for Sydney United who recently lost against old foes Sydney Olympic 1-0 finished seventh in the NSW NPL. A comeback penalty win over South Hobart last round sets them up with a reunion with a fellow former NSL powerhouse.
Both these two are former NSL Cup winners and have met on 13 occasions, with Sydney wining six of those. This will be Sydney United’s first visit to Olympic Village since 1994 when they easily defeated Heidelberg 3-0.
The Bergers were one of the standout teams in the 2015 NPL Victoria and were in the hint for a top-to finish for much of the season. Their double attacking threat of Kaine Sheppard and Dan Heffernan was well on show on the national stage in the Round of 32 and they will prove to be a handful once again.
Heidelberg are an extremely dangerous attacking side with flair all over the park. They have already proven that they have the ability to go far in the tournament and should prove too much for the visitors.
Sterling Lions v Perth Glory
The only non-NPL state side still left in the competition Sterling Lions host last year’s beaten FFA Cup finalists Perth Glory in Brisbane.
The Brisbane Premier League side produced the shock of the Round of 32 in beating FFSA NPL side Croydon City and now host the A-League side at Perry Park.
Still very much in rebuilding mode after last season’s Salary Cup controversy, the Glory scraped through last round in a penalty shootout against fellow A-League Newcastle Jets, who themselves are going through a transitional period.
This game will give Perth’s new faces a good chance to gel ahead of the new season against a side they should have little trouble getting over.
Perth have proven they have no trouble coming up against the optional hiccup of lower opposition and are starting to rebuild nicely after the dramas of last season. They will progress easily.
Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix
Only of two all-A-League match-ups sees a re-match of last year’s elimination final that City triumphed 2-0 in a real smash-and-grab job.
City with their wealthy backers have some considerable expectations around them to improve in the league and are starting to prove an impressive side. Having re-signed Aaron Mooy John van’t Schip has had a busy off-season bringing in former EPL defender Mark Hughes and striker Bruno Fornaroli who are both expected to feature.
It’s a new look side for the Nix also who have said goodbye to Nathan Burns and welcomed Dutchman Jeffrey Sarpong as his replacement.
Ernie Merrick’s men find themselves in the Round of 16 after an own-goal helped them overcome Central Coast Mariners while City progressed thanks to a 2-1 over Edgeworth Eagles, relying on two Mooy free kicks to seal the win.
This is a hard match to pick with two evenly-matched sides. The Nix will be doubt out for revenge after City punted them out of the finals last season, however the win over the Mariners hardly filled you with excitement and were largely lucky to progress.
City themselves have failed to set the world alight so far this season but should field a strong side for this one and look on paper good value to go through.