We preview the Asian Champions League finalists ahead of the new A-League season.
The Wanderers perhaps weren’t quite as dominant as they were in their first season, but Tony Popovic’s side yet again reached the Grand Final.
Spurred on by it vociferous support, the Wanderers pushed Brisbane all the way in the final, but went on to lose in extra time.
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Coach Tony Popovic has overhauled the squad for Western Sydney’s third campaign.
Brazilian Vitor Saba replaces Shinji Ono, Dutch winger Romeo Castelen replaces his countrymen Youssouf Hersi, while Seyi Adeleke will slot in at left back.
The bulk of the Wanderers side are A-League misfits who have come together and incredibly become just the second Australian side to reach Asian Champions League final.
A key issue for the Wanderers is that if they have yet another successful season, without doubt both coach Tony Popovic and the likes of Tomi Juric and Matthew Spiranovic will become targets for both cashed-up Asian clubs and European sides.
Western Sydney will yet again be defensively resilient, and therefore hard to beat.
Dean Bouzanis (Carlisle United/ENG), Vitor Saba (Brescia/ITA), Brendan Hamill (Seongnam/KOR), Romeo Castelen (RKC Waalwijk/NED), Seyi Adeleke (Lazio/ITA)
Adam D’Apuzzo (Retired), Shinji Ono (Consadole Sapporo/JPN), Michael Beauchamp (PTT Rayong/THA), Jerome Polenz (Sarpsborg 08/NOR), Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City/AUS), Tahj Minniecon (Rockdale City Suns/AUS), Josh Barresi (Released), Youssouf Hersi (Perth Glory/AUS), Jerrad Tyson (Sun Pegasus/HGK), Dean Heffernan (Retired)
Goalkeepers: Ante Covic, Dean Bouzanis
Defenders: Matthew Spiranovic, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Brendan Hamill, Anthony Golec, Shannon Cole, Daniel Alessi, Daniel Mullen, Seyi Adeleke
Midfielders: Iacopo La Rocca, Mateo Poljak, Yianni Perkatis, Jason Trifiro, Alusine Fofanah, Vitor Saba
Attackers: Tomi Juric, Brendon Santalab, Kwabena Appiah, Labinot Haliti, Mark Bridge, GolGol Mebrathu
Tony Popovic has shown himself to have great tactical nous in his two years as manager of Western Sydney, but its his man management skills that are mostly spoken of in high regard by his players.
Although they have lost talent in Ono, Hersi and Polenz, the real core of the side has stuck together.
New signing Saba has shown that he could very well be an excellent replacement for Ono, but it remains to be seen just how well Castelen and Adeleke fit in.
If the Wanderers can hang onto Popovic, Juric and Spiranovic, they’ll without doubt go close to winning the title.
Will it be third time lucky for the Wanderers?