Sydney to go on the attack against Shandong

Sydney FC midfielder Brandon O’Neill said there is no doubt about how the Sky Blues were going to play in their AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Shandong Luneng.

O'Neill

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“The way we’ve been training this week and the way we’re planning to set up, we’re back home in front of our own fans and we’re going out to attack and win the game,” O’Neill said.

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“In the away leg you go away and you always have your defensive priorities in place, because you know if you lose you’re coming home to more pressure.

“But if you’re tactically aware away from home you can still get the job done and we did that and now we’re home and we’re going out to attack and win the game and that’s our main priority.

“There won’t be any parking the bus. We’ll have our defensive structures in place, like we do in every game, but we’ll be looking to play football.”

Sydney got a crucial away goal in the 1-1 first leg last week. They will look to clinch a place in the last eight of the competition in the return leg at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night.

If the Sky Blues were simply looking to stop Shandong from scoring, even at the expense of probably not scoring themselves, then defending midfielders O’Neill and Milos Dimitrijevic would sit deep and not be in any hurry to try to play the ball into attacking positions.

However, O’Neill was adamant Sydney would be proactive in the way they went about things and try to dictate the game.

“We’ll be pressing a lot higher and trying to trap the ball in their half,” he said. “We want to attack and win the ball back as high as possible and we want to score goals in our home leg.

“We’ll be going forward as much as we can with the ball and we’ll be trying to create as many opportunities as we can.”



The standard contract for A-League players expires at the end of May and there will be a three-month gap before the quarter-finals of the ACL, which will be staged on August 23/24 and September 13/14.

So the Sky Blues are in a situation where some of the players in Wednesday night’s game might not retain positions in the squad for next season.

But O’Neill, who is contracted for next season, said the natural approach of every player involved would be that getting the right result in what is a huge game is all they will be worried about.

“It is a bit of a weird one, I can’t imagine there are many leagues in the world where this happens and it (the Champions League) cuts across the end of one season and the start of the next one for Australian clubs,” he said.

“You could play in the round of 16 and if you get through you could have a different-looking team for the quarters, but whoever wears the Sydney FC jumper on Wednesday night will know they have a massive role to play and a massive responsibility.

“The lads that play in this game who might not be in the quarter-finals will still want to do everything they can to help the team and if we do make the quarter-finals then the lads that come into our next squad will have a very important role as well.

“We’ve done such a good job so far. We topped what a lot of people thought was a pretty much impossible group and we did well in the first leg of the round of 16. Now we’ve got to produce again and everyone here is up for that challenge.”


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4 min read
Published 24 May 2016 at 1:19pm
By Greg Prichard
Source: SBS