Adelaide United skipper Eugene Galekovic has denied the Reds’ former Wanderers player Iacopo La Rocca prefers to play in midfield, as was suggested by one of the his former teammates at Wanderland.
La Rocca, 32, has been a key man in the Reds’ rock solid defence, with the side conceding the fewest of any team in the competition this season.
But this week, Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab – a former teammate of La Rocca during their time together at the Western Sydney club – ramped up the banter between the two combatants, suggesting the Italian prefers to play in central midfield where he played for most of his time at Wanderland.
Galekovic flatly denied this suggestion and lauded the Italian’s contribution to his side's run to the Grand Final.
“I think he's loving life back there [in central defence],” said Galekovic at the official pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“He [La Rocca] been great for us defensively. I just think it's someone trying to stir someone else up.”
Asked whether this attempt at mind games was successful, the Reds keeper was adamant.
“It's not working at all,” he said.
Galekovic added star striker Bruce Djite was fit and ready to go.
“We trained today, our last training session, but everyone is training and everyone is fit and everyone is ready to go."
United coach Gui Amor – someone with plenty of big game experience as a player and star at Barcelona in over two decades at the Camp Nou in the 80s and 90s – said emotions must be kept in check on the day.
“Normally, with these games, you have to imagine, be calm, [have] a big personality and character.
“In the finals, and big games, it's important to use your head," he said.
"Tomorrow is a tough game, against a very good team and this season, they were fantastic. Western Sydney Wanderers is a [strong performer] in the season.
“So it's a big game against a team that we know will run and run and press. It will be a very difficult game.
“For us, we must all do all the things very well.”
Grand Final week has been by all reports a busy one in the City of Churches. But one Amor hopes the players embrace.
“Training is normal. It’s possible this week it’s been more calm in Sydney?
"But here it’s different after this [press conference] we go one place here and with the team. It isn’t so calm…”
But the Spaniard retained his humour when asked about appearing at a press conference featuring both sides together rather than separately as is the tradition in European football.
“It’s nice, it’s different,” he said with a smile.
“It’s not normal. Normal it’s one team then after is the other team. It’s a little [like] boxing no?
“But it’s football it’s … no problem for us.”