The FFA Cup Grand Final is the most important game in city’s history.
In 2010 we saw a talented Melbourne Heart team with the iconic names of John Aloisi, Alex Terra, Gerald Sibon and Rutger Worm take the field to establish a new successful Melbourne-based club. With years of no success, the club was re-branded, and in 2014 they were now known as Melbourne City.
It’s been seven years for those fans who were faithful, seven years without any silverware, but on Wednesday night they could all be celebrating a trophy for the first time.
Melbourne City’s road to the FFA Cup grand final continued on Sunday, as City prevailed 2-1 against a competitive Wellington Phoenix.
After dominating the early stages of the contest, Melbourne City took a 1-0 lead into the half-time break after Nick Fitzgerald’s long-range strike deflected off Wellington defender Marco Rossi, stunning Phoenix goal keeper Glen Moss as it sailed passed him into the back of the net.
The visitors were able to level the scores when Roy Krishna goaled from the penalty spot, but that slim hope the Phoenix had was wiped away once Bruno Fornaroli sent Moss the wrong way from a penalty shot of his own.
John Van’t Schip’s side closed to within four points of ladder-leader Sydney FC as a result of the win, and just so happen to be playing the sky blues in the FFA Cup final on Wednesday.
Graham Arnold’s squad have done nothing but impress in the first eight rounds of the A League, as his side comes into Wednesday’s clash with an un-beaten run. They haven’t just been winning games however, they are doing it very convincingly with a goal difference of 15.
“We want to play good football and we want to win the cup. We are against a very hard opponent who are unbeaten. It’s not going to be easy,” Van’t Schip said in a post-game interview.
Depth in this competition is a vital asset to have, and is something which City and Sydney have in common according to City winger Nick Fitzgerald, who is respective of the way Sydney play.
“To be a successful club, you have to a have great depth. If you look at both teams in the final, we have the most depth in the comp,” Fitzgerald said.
Van’t Schip was always cautious of Wednesday’s game and this was noticeable on Sunday, as he sat stars Tim Cahill and Bruce Kamau on the bench until the second half, and took off livewires Fernando Brandan and Bruno Fornaroli.
Former Bocca Junior player Nicholas Colazo was another who played just 20 minutes against Wellington, making his first A League appearance since the Melbourne derby in round two.
Why depth is crucial is because the Melbourne City coach had the luxury of playing a more than competitive team against the Phoenix, while at the same time had players on the bench or even not selected in the squad who can have a big impact.
“We put a team on the pitch we knew and thought that could win, they showed it as well, especially the first half,” Van’t Schip said.
“We also knew we didn’t have players for the week coming to play 90 minutes every game, so you have to start and look at the best combination.
“Now it’s again looking forward to Wednesday and we’ll discuss and look at what’s going to be the best team to start, we know we have a strong bench, today we’ve proved it again.
“At 1-1 we can put in Tim, Colazo, Kamau and that period also with the changes, we got in the 2-1, even Bruno was still on the pitch at that moment.”
Colazo is one player who could prove a difference for City on Wednesday night and is now fitter from Sunday’s game, but he is adamant that a team-first mentality will get the job done for Melbourne City in its 2016/17 campaign.
“I feel alright. I hope to play a part on Wednesday and a win will be very important for the club and the team,” Colazo said.
“Whether I play or not, I just want the team to win.”
The A League table doesn’t lie, and Sydney FC are the best team in it at the moment. John Van’t Schip knows all too well the importance of not getting too confident, but the influence that winning a trophy has on the group could take them places.
“Wednesday will mean a lot if we win. It’s something we’ve been working hard towards. We want to win it and we have an opportunity now.”