While most of the world has shut down all sports activities, Australia made the surprising decision to keep its men’s and women’s professional leagues active, albeit behind closed doors. Regardless of how you feel about that choice, it does give you an opportunity to watch some live soccer.
On Friday night, three OL Reign players will feature in the W-League Grand Final. Lauren Barnes and Steph Catley will suit up for the undefeated Melbourne City, while Sofia Huerta will represent Sydney FC, who won the league title last year.
Melbourne is also home to three former Reign players: New Zealand international Rebekah Stott and Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams and midfielder Emily Van Egmond.
Sydney FC advanced to the grand final with a 1-0 win over the Melbourne Victory, while Melbourne City took down the Western Sydney Wanderers in dramatic fashion—defeating the Wanderers 5-1.
Expect Melbourne City to have most of the ball in the match. They average 501 passes per game, compared to 338 for Sydney FC. A lot of that possession flows through Barnes. Melbourne line up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Catley and her Matildas teammate Ellie Carpenter playing the crucial wingback positions. City are tough to defeat when these two have space on the wings.
Sydney FC are hard to break down, and Melbourne City won’t likely have the endless chances they had last weekend. Huerta lines up on the right wing and is the creative playmaker for Sydney. She’s got an accurate cross and can be a big threat from distance.
Case in point: This goal she scored in the finals last year.
️⚽️ | An absolute from @schuerta to open the scoring in the 2019 @WLeague Grand Final!— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) February 16, 2019
It's advantage Sky Blues at the break, make sure you #WatchWithUs LIVE the second half on @FOXFOOTBALL 505!#SydneyIsSkyBlue #ComeWithUs #WLeagueGF pic.twitter.com/0PKNtpmTg5
Grab a beer, settle into your couch, tune to ESPN+ and join us for the W-League Grand Final. And then send good vibes to these players for their return back to the USA.
No surprises for Melbourne City
Huerta starts for Sydney
15’ - Goal, Steph Catley! Unfortunate miss for Sydney’s GK Aubrey Bledsoe
How to Watch
Date/Time: Friday, March 20, 9:30 PM PT
Location: AAMI PARK, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Streaming: ESPN+ (Link to schedule)
This is your W-League Grand Final gamethread. Watch the OL Reign players with us.