ALM Preview: Semi Final First Leg v Sydney FC

Finals football is here as we gear up for the first leg of our highly anticipated Semi Final tie against Sydney FC this Friday night.

On the road for the first leg, City will be coming in fresh after earning a week’s break following our dominant regular season campaign which saw us crowned Premiers for a third consecutive season.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead the first leg!


Far and away the best team in the 2022/23 A-League Men’s season, City will now eye off securing the Men’s double for the second time in club history. First up is a Sydney FC side that kept its finals hopes alive with a 2-1 win over the Western Sydney last weekend.

City had the luxury of a two-week break following our final game of the season against the Wanderers, giving the squad a chance to get themselves right ahead of a finals campaign where we’ll play two of three games away from home should we qualify for the Grand Final.

With several players managing niggles after a long season, the break will no doubt have afforded them the opportunity to return to full fitness and put their best foot forward in the pressure cooker that is Finals football.

City will be hoping to capitalise on these fresh legs to get the jump over a Sydney FC side that is still no doubt recovering from a physical match against the Wanderers under a week ago.

Valon Berisha was rested for the final two matches of the season, using that time to manage an ongoing hip issue, but now is back amongst the squad for this Friday night.


Our number nine couldn’t be in much better form both on and off the pitch heading into the Semi Finals after having been hampered by a broken toe earlier in the season.

The last few weeks have seen Maclaren score six goals in four matches, leaving those updating the history books with plenty to do in the process.

He broke the all-time A-Leagues scoring record with a hat trick against Western United, which also saw him hit the back of the net for the 100th time in a City shirt, becoming the only player to reach triple-figure scoring numbers for one A-Leagues club.

Maclaren comfortably wrapped up the Golden Boot for the fifth time in his career and fourth season in a row, heading into Finals with 24 goals to his name for 2022/23.

To cap it all off, Tuesday saw the unveiling of a mural in his honour at the iconic Richmond Station location, just a stone’s throw from AAMI Park.

Expect him to come out firing as he looks to lead his team to a fourth consecutive Grand Final appearance.


After a hot start to the season saw a then Patrick Kisnorbo-coached City quickly put daylight between ourselves and the rest of the pack, a mixture of injuries to key players and schedule pressures saw City struggle for consistency for a brief period during the middle of the season.

Injuries to the likes of Richard van der Venne, Maclaren and Club Player of the Year Mathew Leckie hindered City’s ability going forward and as a result, we suffered two of our three losses for the season in the space of a couple of weeks.

However, as City so often does, this ‘form slump’ didn’t last long and we returned to winning ways, going on an eight-game undefeated run (W5, D3) to finish the season.

To win the double it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it appears that City has timed its run into Finals almost perfectly with a full-strength squad all fit and firing heading into Friday night.

Fresh off lifting the Premiers Plate, van der Venne and Leckie are back in the fray, plus with Maclaren back to his goalscoring best, City will be full of confidence to carry on that hot form.


City has a strong record against Sydney FC, having won four of the last five meetings.

Last time these two sides met was back in February when we ran out 3-2 winners at AAMI Park thanks to a first half Maclaren double and Marco TIlio goal.

After a frantic start that saw four goals scored inside the opening 30 minutes, City dominated the tempo and possession until Sydney scored from a free kick in what was virtually the last kick of the game.


Sydney FC are coming off a gritty 2-1 Derby Elimination Final win, with second half goals to Robert Mak and Adam Le Fondre enough to see them keep their finals hopes alive.

The Sky Blues are in some strong form at the moment, having won all of their last four matches, so expect it to be a hotly contested first leg this Friday night.


A-League Men: Semi Final Leg 1

Sydney FC vs Melbourne City FC

Allianz Stadium

Friday April 12, 7:45pm KO

LIVE ON 10Bold and Paramount+