The False 9: Round 20 - Victory and Sydney under the pump in Champions League

There seems to be a fair bit of negativity going around about the chances of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC doing well in the AFC Asian Champions League. Even advancing from the group stage seems an unlikely result for either team in the eyes of many.

Victory

Source: Getty Images

The mostly disappointing form of both teams recently, leaving Victory in fifth place and Sydney sixth on the A-League table, has engendered pessimism rather than optimism in football circles. The strength of the groups the two teams are in hasn't helped.

Assuming China Super League giants Guangzhou Evergrande will advance from Sydney's group, that leaves the Sky Blues battling with Urawa Red Diamonds and Pohang Steelers for the other spot. False 9 noticed that bookmakers have Urawa as hot favourites to win at home against Sydney on Wednesday night.

The bookies also have Chinese side Shanghai SIPG as warm favourites to beat Victory on Wednesday, even though Victory are at home.

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Guangzhou finished first in last year's Chinese Super League, while Shanghai SIPG finished second.

The third-placed team, Shandong Luneng, recently won a one-off qualifying game 2-1 on the road against Adelaide United, the hottest team in the A-League at the moment, to get to the ACL's main draw.

That doesn't augur well for Victory and Sydney in the group stage.

Western Sydney Wanderers famously became the first Australian team to win the ACL in 2014. Last year, neither the Wanderers nor the other Australian representatives, Brisbane Roar, made it out of the group stage.

It's going to be tough for Victory and Sydney, but hopefully one or both of them can dig deep and still be alive at the end of the group stage.

Would you like some bacon with that egg, Mr Goodwin?

Craig Goodwin


Adelaide United star Craig Goodwin, pictured here with teammate Pablo Sanchez, looked like he had a Titleist stuck under the skin on his forehead after his collision with Victory defender Daniel Georgievski's knee.

Goodwin, who has been in sensational form during Adelaide's 12-game unbeaten run, couldn't remember much about the game, including the goal that came from his great lead-up work immediately before he got hurt.

But he has made a good recovery and is hoping to be medically cleared to play on the weekend.

False 9 has always been intrigued by the occasional appearance of an "egg" after a blow to someone's head, so he consulted Dr Google for an explanation as to why it occurs.

"Also known as hematoma, goose egg refers to a soft swelling on the forehead resulting from damage done to the blood vessels," Dr Google said. "This usually happens after an injury to the head.

"Most of these bumps or goose eggs are harmless and usually go away within a few days. These bumps are more common in infants, but anyone with an injury to the head can develop a goose egg on the forehead."

Has anyone ever seen Pitbull and John Tsatsimas in the same room?

False 9 has heard that, more than once (in other words, at least twice) on the streets of western Sydney, Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas has been mistaken for the American rapper Pitbull.

Apart from both being bald, the pair share similar ideals. Tsatsimas believes there are no limits to the potential for the Wanderers' success and Pitbull likes aiming high as well.

As he sang/rapped in Give Me Everything, "reach for the stars and if you don't grab 'em at least you'll fall on top of the world".

False 9 understands Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic has been known to scribble that message on the dressing-room whiteboard before the team goes out to play. OK, now I've gone too far.

Pitbull


Image

Tweet, tweet #1

Daniel McBreen flicks a jab at Tim "what's your vision" Cahill.

Tweet, tweet #2

Some very impressive six-packs among the shirts-off brigade at Adelaide United!

Tweet, tweet #3

False 9 wishes he had seen this last week. Stuff it, he's running it anyway.

@#$% happens

There is nothing worse than sticking one in the back of your own net. OK, there are worse things, but right at the moment when it happens it sure doesn't seem like it.

Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante had the displeasure of doing so in his team's 3-2 loss to Newcastle Jets, so in an attempt to give "Dura" a lift, False 9 presents a song written by his namesake, Andrew Durant, for the Australian group Stars in the late 1970s.

Durant tragically died of cancer at just 25, but being the way they are in rock and roll, they gave him a good send-off.

Here is Stars front-man Mick Pealing and guests including "Barnesy", "Mossy" and Renee Geyer, rocking out to Mighty Rock at the Andrew Durant Memorial Concert.

 

Kenny Lowe-isms

The Perth Glory coach on people saying his side are now genuine championship contenders after their 6-3 win over Brisbane Roar, which brought them to within one point of the top six.

"Well, there were a lot of them who said we were crap and wouldn't make the six, so it doesn't matter one way or the other, you know. You just balance. When we're good, I'm balanced, when we're crap, I'm balanced, it doesn't matter."

On whether he believes he has the squad to do major damage at the business end of the season.

"Haven't got a clue. I haven't got a crystal ball, I couldn't tell you. I just hope the guys achieve what they want to achieve, that's what I really, really hope."

And on whether he was going straight home to watch a replay of the match or would be having a drink to celebrate the win.

"I'll be dancing on the tables tonight with the missus. I'll let her watch the game." 

Can't wait for . . .

It may seem like heresy to pass over the latest edition of the "Big Blue" as the most-anticipated game of the weekend, but False 9 has made the call and gone for the Saturday night "curtain-raiser" of Adelaide United at home to Brisbane Roar instead.

It's another massive game between a couple of teams that are very close to the top of the table.

Third-placed Adelaide would overtake second-placed Brisbane with a win, but victory to either side could be worth even more depending on the result of Friday night's game between the Wanderers and Glory.

A Perth win or a draw would give Adelaide and Brisbane the chance to play for the competition lead. As Bill Lawry once said a million times, "it's all happening".


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6 min read
Published 23 February 2016 at 3:22pm
By Greg Prichard