The Hyundai A-League is set to ignite in season eight and there will be plenty of the usual action to keep us on the edge of our seats: local derbies, distance derbies, controversial decisions, but we reckon there might be a few personal and deeply passionate rivalries that are set to catch fire...
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC
The inaugural Sydney derby was always going to be a moneyspinner and Hyundai A-League officials will be hoping the rivalry is up there along with the Melbourne version when it comes to the raw passion of fans and players alike, plus drawing good numbers through the turnstiles.
It helps, of course, that three Sydney FC players have already hopped across to the west to give their careers a kick-start.
Shannon Cole and Michael Beauchamp left the Sky Blues because they were out of contract and without a coach, the club was unable to make them an offer, their answer head west and link up with Tony Popovic.
Mark Bridge was a different story, however. After a few seasons at Sydney FC and coming to the end of one where he struggled to find his place behind the likes of Bruno Cazarine and young-gun Joel Chianese, the 26-year-old opted to request a release from the remaining year of his contract to further his career elsewhere.
Enter the Wanderers and Tony Popovic and at training Bridge has not only looked rejuvenated as a player but also sharp on the ball with young teammate Kwabena Appiah commenting that Bridge is the player who has impressed him most on the training pitch.
It’s not like Bridge has that much of an axe to grind but he has openly admitted he is looking forward to taking on his former club and perhaps just showing them what they have lost.
While the triumvirate of defectors will surely play their role, so too will the fans of each club.
Western Sydney isn’t exactly the home of the rich and famous; the area identifies with battlers trying to make good, while the fan base of Sydney FC is often regarded as being affluent and from the more wealthy Eastern Suburbs meaning the clash of cultures could also play a part as the two teams collide... their first battle, October 20!
This rivalry could mean as much to FFA and the competition as a whole as it does to the individual clubs. We want fans out in their droves, passionate but respectful, giving Sydney a football game to match Melbourne's and one it truly deserves.