Hyundai A-League preview: Wellington v Adelaide
Hyundai A-League football returns to Wellington on New Year’s Day with an improving Phoenix hosting a Reds side whose poor performances continue to belie their undoubted quality.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))
Wellington Phoenix return to a freshly re-laid Westpac Stadium for the first time in eight weeks, relishing a run of home games to start 2017.
The New Year’s Day fixture is the first of four home matches in the first three weeks of January, following which the Phoenix hope to have completed the rise from Hyundai A-League cellar-dwellers to top six contenders.
Under interim bosses Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham, Phoenix are unbeaten in their last three games and they’ll be targeting all three points here against an underwhelming Reds side.
In fact, Adelaide United are in danger of mounting the worst ever defence of a Hyundai A-League title, having collected just six points from a possible 36 so far this season.
Gui Amor’s men are close to disarray, their season reaching a low point with a 4-0 home hiding at the hands of Sydney FC on Boxing Day.
They’ll gain some confidence though from the fact they beat Phoenix 2-0 in their last meeting (the last game of Ernie Merrick’s tenure at Wellington) and won 4-0 at Westpac Stadium on their most recent visit last season to go top of the A-League, a position they never relinquished.
- Wellington Phoenix are now undefeated in their last three games (W1, D2), their longest streak since a run of six games unbeaten in Feb-March 2015, a streak in which the fourth fixture was a win against Adelaide.
- Adelaide have hit the woodwork eight times in 2016/17; no team has done it more often (level with Sydney).
- Ben Garuccio (Adelaide) has recorded five more interceptions this term than any other player (50).
- Isaias is the only Adelaide played since October 2016 to have scored an A-League goal away from home.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Roy Krishna continues to be Phoenix’s most dangerous attacker and while he didn’t add to his tally on Boxing Day, he provided the assists for both of his side’s goals in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle.
That meant Krishna has been directly involved in 11 of Wellington’s 13 goals this season.
Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses have both opened their accounts in the last two games, so we might finally be about to see concrete evidence of the much-vaunted Phoenix strike-force which failed to deliver in the first eight games of the campaign.
Adelaide’s woes in the front third are best evidenced by the fact their only goal in the last three games has been an own goal.
Marquee man Sergio Guardiola has gone six games without scoring, while Henrique’s brace against the Phoenix – which gave Adelaide their only win of the season – seems a distant memory.
Having said all that, those two players, along with Sergio Cirio and Marcelo Carrusca form a potentially dangerous attacking quartet which can’t be taken lightly.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Immediately following their 2-2 draw with Newcastle, the Phoenix got both barrels from Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich who, among other things, declared the club added “nothing” to the A-League.
FORM GUIDE (last five games)
Wellington Phoenix: LLWDD
Adelaide United: DWLLL
Wellington Phoenix 2 Adelaide United 0