Sydney FC, Adelaide to resume rivalry
Sydney FC skipper Tony Popovic has called on his players to lift for Saturday night's crunch clash with Adelaide United as the two clubs resume one of the A-League's most heated rivalries at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Sydney are in danger of falling five points adrift of the top four if they fail to maintain their unbeaten home record against an in-form Adelaide.
But while not wanting to brand the game a must-win encounter for FC, Popovic said Sydney would have to go on the front foot early in a bid to claim maximum points at home.
"We're going to go out and do all we can to take the game to Adelaide," the defender said.
"We're playing at home, and we'll be looking to go on the front foot, trying to put them under pressure and hopefully we'll get the desired result.
"We're coming up against a side that's playing well ... so we need to lift to get what we want.
"They're a good side going forward ... so we know we're up against a good attacking side, but we definitely believe we've got enough to counter that and cause them problems of their own."
Adelaide impressed without their Olyroos stars last week in beating reigning champions Melbourne 4-1.
But they are yet to taste victory in five trips to Sydney, with the teams' 2-2 draw last month - in one of the games of the season - the only time the Reds have walked out of the SFS with a point.
Both squads will be bolstered by the return of their Australian youth internationals, although Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar may be loathe to rush Nathan Burns and Kristian Sarkies back in to the starting line-up after the Reds last-up performance.
"I would have to have some valid reasons to drop someone," Vidmar said.
"We've got very good options so we'll see how Nathan and Kristian pull up."
Burns and Sarkies, as well as Sydney's Mark Milligan, Adam Casey and Ruben Zadkovic, all returned to Australia on Friday morning after the Olyroos' 0-0 draw with Lebanon in Beirut this week.
Milligan is expected to slot straight back in to Sydney's starting line-up, but Zadkovic will miss the game through suspension.
Marquee star Juninho (shoulder) and fellow Brazilian Patrick (knee) are also expected to start for Sydney, despite both struggling with injuries.
"They're fine, they were running freely today," Popovic said.
"It's nothing that we don't know about, they're injuries, but they're fine and they're ready to go."
No-nonsense Adelaide midfielder Jonas Salley is expected to get the job marking Juninho, but Vidmar has said the Ivory Coast player had been given no instructions to test the Brazilian's injured shoulder.