Sydney FC 'physically superior' to Melbourne Victory - Michael Zullo
If Sydney FC skipper Alex Brosque re-lit the Big Blue touchpaper, teammate Michael Zullo is keeping it burning ahead of Saturday's A-League semifinal.
A day after Brosque declared Melbourne Victory were at a psychological disadvantage leading into the do-or-die Allianz Stadium showdown, Zullo issued a bold statement about what he calls the Sky Blues' physical superiority.
The fixture is famous for its spite and niggle, especially on the finals stage.
In last year's Grand Final, winning penalty-scorer Milos Ninkovic was heavily targeted and said at the time Victory "knew that if they played football they can't beat us."
The Melburnians did come agonisingly close that day but Zullo is convinced Kevin Muscat's men no longer hold the physical edge.
"Their game is based on physicality and we're the physically superior side," he said.
"If you look at it in that way we've turned their strength into our strength.
"The quality we have in our squad this year, especially in our front third, has really been the difference.
"And the fact we defend as a team and everyone has a part to play defensively has led to us coming out on top."
Sydney have come out on top seven times to be exact, yet Muscat has a knack for delivering results in the knockout stages, further evidenced by Besart Berisha's 89th-minute stunner at AAMI Park on Sunday to seal an unlikely elimination-final win over Adelaide United.
Zullo hoped the weekend off would further play into his side's hands in their quest for back-to-back titles, optimistic the extra rest would only "add to our physical advantage."
It will also have assisted the left-back's own recovery after several weeks affected by a hamstring problem.
He has since managed three games unaffected.
"I've had a great rehab," the 29-year-old said.
"We've taken our time with it because we knew we were in the finals and had the time, so we've done everything to ensure I was ready for the finals."