Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix
Adelaide United welcome Wellington Phoenix to open #EraseRacism Round in the Hyundai A-League tonight at Coopers Stadium 7.30pm AEDT.
Adelaide United will welcome Wellington Phoenix to open Erase Racism Round in the Hyundai A-League tonight at Coopers Stadium 7.30pm AEDT.
Played 20 - Wins: Adelaide 9, Wellington 5, Draws: 6
Wellington 2-1 Adelaide, February 1 2014
Past five matches Adelaide: LWWLD Wellington: WLWWL
Wellington's last three games have produced 15 goals, while there have been 12 in Adelaide's past three outings, eight of them in the Reds' favour. So whatever else happens, we have every right to expect some action when the two sides meet at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night. The Phoenix responded to a 5-0 thrashing at home to Melbourne Heart by thumping reigning champions Central Coast Mariners 4-1 in their own backyard.
Adelaide meanwhile were somewhat unfortunate to go down 4-3 away to Melbourne Victory in the game of the season so far at AAMI Park on Sunday. Just a point separates fifth-placed Adelaide from Wellington in seventh heading into this one, and we can't wait to see what this clash between direct top-six rivals throws up.
The big issue:
Adelaide - Can the Reds find a way to press high up the pitch and play a high defence line but still prevent the opposition from taking advantage at the back? On Saturday the Victory's pace on the counter exposed Josep Gombau's men at AAMI Park and they will be up against another quick attack this week. Centre-back Jon McKain will sit this one out due to suspension, while playmaker Marcelo Carrusca is injured. Michael Zullo is available again after serving a ban, and his pace at fullback could help Adelaide minimise the risks of being caught short-handed in defence.
Wellington - The Phoenix showed they mean business with finals approaching by picking off a weakened Mariners side last time out. This week's game is a bigger ask, but they did manage to get the better of Adelaide at Westpac Stadium earlier this month. Repeat the feat on the road, and Ernie Merrick's side will be brimming with confidence during the last rounds of the campaign. There are no new injury concerns for Wellington, who are still without Leo Bertos, Albert Riera, Paul Ifill and Louis Fenton, the latter two for the rest of the season.
The game breaker:
In the absence of Carrusca, Carlos Hernandez will be the dominant playmaker on the field at Coopers Stadium. Osama Malik is likely to deputize for McKain at centre-back, meaning Cameron Watson and Isaias will need to keep an eye on the Costa Rican, but with no dedicated holding player able to man mark the former Melbourne Victory star, he could be in position to dictate terms for the visitors - but only if they can get the ball off the possession-focused Reds.