Four things Adelaide United need to do to win the Semi-Final
They did it the hard way, but Adelaide United stayed alive in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series with an extra-time 1-0 Elimination Final win over Melbourne City last Sunday.
The Reds’ reward for that battling triumph is a shot at Premiers Perth Glory in Friday night’s Semi-Final clash at HBF Park (kick-off at 8.30pm AEST).
HOW TO WATCH: Both of this weekend's do-or-die Hyundai A-League Semi-Finals
SEMI-FINAL 1 PREVIEW: Perth Glory v Adelaide United
While Marco Kurz’s side haven’t really landed a glove on Glory during 2018/19, sudden-death finals football is a totally different proposition.
Here are four things Adelaide must get right to topple Perth and book their spot in the Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final.
Exploit potential space in wide areas
A feature of Glory’s play this season has been Popovic’s use of a back-three, with Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson operating as wing-backs.
But the pair are very attack-minded and are often the ones providing the width in the front-third, opening up the possibility for the likes of Craig Goodwin and Nikola Mileusnic to exploit areas that could be left wide open.
Expect Kurz to instruct his side to go direct and wide as soon as they win the ball in transition, in an effort to stretch what has been an impressive back line for Perth for much of the season.
And if they do get joy out wide, the Reds should try and get plenty of crosses into the box early, with 30% of their goals coming from headers in 2018/19, a higher percentage than any other club.
Nullify Glory’s marauding fullbacks
Further to the point above, while Glory can perhaps be vulnerable whenever Franjic and Davidson get forward, the duo are also pretty effective.
Franjic has played every match this season, scoring two goals and providing four assists from the right, while Davidson also has a couple of goals plus five assists from his 26 appearances.
That makes the job of Adelaide’s wide players vitally important on Friday night.
Reds fullbacks Scott Galloway and Ryan Kitto will need to get support from the likes of Goodwin and Mileusnic to close down the time and space afforded to Glory’s marauding wing-backs.
Dominate the middle of the park
While Glory have plenty of threats in the front third of the pitch, it’s the excellent service from midfield duo Neil Kilkenny and Juande that allows them to flourish.
The Reds can’t let the pair dictate the tempo of the match, especially with the visitors coming off an energy-sapping 120 minutes in the Elimination Final.
This is where Adelaide skipper Isaias and workhorse Mirko Boland will be pivotal, to put the heat on Glory’s midfield creators.
If Kilkenny – who is battling an ankle injury – misses the match and youngster Jake Brimmer comes in, it could play right into Adelaide’s hands.
Beat keeper Liam Reddy
It goes without saying the Reds will need to score at some point at HBF Park, but that can be easier said than done. Especially this season.
In the three meetings between the two clubs this season, Adelaide have not been able to get a single strike past the Glory gloveman.
While two of the three clashes ended in 2-0 Glory wins, the only encounter at HBF Park finished 0-0 and the Reds certainly had their chances.
A repeat performance mixed in with a tad more quality in the front third – helped by having Baba Diawara back fit again – and Adelaide might just break their Glory drought.