Preview: Adelaide United v Queensland Roar
As much as has happened to Adelaide over the past two weeks, the Reds still sit in the driver's seat when it comes to making it through to the Grand Final.
Date: Saturday, February 21 Kick-off: 6:30pm local (7:00pm AEDT) Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, Sky Sport 2 and FRESH FM, ABC Radio SA and QLD. To purchase tickets visit www.venuetix.com.au
Head-to-head 12 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Adelaide United 5, Queensland Roar 2, Draws: 5
Previous meeting Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 16, January 2009
Finals meetings: None
Past Five Games Adelaide: Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 20: Wellington Phoenix 1, Adelaide United 1, Westpac Stadium Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium Major-Semi (Leg 1): Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Major-Semi (Leg 2): Melbourne Victory 4, Adelaide United 0, Telstra Dome
Queensland Roar: Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 20: Queensland Roar 3, Sydney FC 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 21: Queensland Roar 4, Perth Glory 2, Suncorp Stadium Minor semi (Leg 1): Central Coast 0, Queensland Roar 2, Bluetongue Stadium Major semi (Leg 2): Queensland Roar 2, Central Coast 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis As much as has happened to Adelaide over the past two weeks, the Reds still sit in the driver's seat when it comes to making it through to the Grand Final. For while the Reds were humiliated 6-0 on aggregate in the Major Semi-Final tie against Melbourne, they still have home advantage plus history in their side in Saturday's Preliminary Final.
Only once in four seasons have the top two teams from the regular season not made it through to the Grand Final, that being Adelaide is season one. The Reds bounced back from a major-semi-final defeat two years ago to make the decider while the Jets went through the Preliminary Final to win the title last year.
Aurelio Vidmar's explosive comments in the wake of the loss to Melbourne could serve as a wake-up call to his team and if he is able to turn around the side's fortunes this week, he will be hailed as a genius.
The Reds have not lost to the Roar this year and have lost just twice in the past nine matches between the two teams. In their previous encounter, both sides struggled to find rhythm in a match which ended 0-0 and offered few clues how this one will pan out.
Vidmar made five changes to his side last week, two of which were enforced and it will be interesting to see how the Reds line-up for this match. The squad announcement offered nothing, with Vidmar including five players, with Cassio suspended. Diego would appear the best chance to come into the starting side.
Frank Farina's approach to this match has been low-profile compared to his opposite number. The Roar have won their past four matches, a club record, and are on a six-match unbeaten streak. Even more impressive is the fact that the only defeat they have suffered in their past 12 has been against Melbourne.
Farina gets back Danny Tiatto from suspension, and he is the only inclusion with Tahj Minniecon and Josh McLoughan still sidelined through injury.
Roar fans will need no reminders that the club fell heartbreakingly short at the same stage last year. Queensland travelled to Newcastle and got it to extra time when Reinaldo scored a penalty in stoppage time. But the Jets scored two goals to the Roar's one in the extra 30 minutes and the rest is history.
Seven players from that match are in the Roar's squad on Saturday and there will be a determination to make it that extra step this time around. Their biggest challenge will be breaching an Adelaide defence which has formed a reputation as the toughest in the competition. The Roar have played 270 minutes of football against the Reds this year and have only scored once.
The contrast in styles between these two teams should provide a fascinating contest, which is sure to be close given a place in the Grand Final, and a place in the Asian Champions League are at stake. Both coaches will be wise to prepare their players for extra time and penalties.
Adelaide United Squad: 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 5. Michael VALKANIS, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.Paul AGOSTINO, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (capt.), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Jonas SALLEY, 16.Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 22.DIEGO, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, 27.Michael MARRONE, 28.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 30.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) * 4 to be omitted
In: Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), Jonas SALLEY (promoted), DIEGO (promoted), Robert YOUNIS (promoted), Michael VALKANIS (returns from injury)
Out: CASSIO (suspended - 1 match)
Unavailable: Kristian SARKIES (ankle - 2 weeks), Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee - season), Jason SPAGNUOLO (long term injury)
Queensland Roar Squad: 1.Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Andrew PACKER, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Craig MOORE, 6.David DODD, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Charlie MILLER, 14.Ben GRIFFIN, 15.Matt McKAY, 16.Hyuk-Su SEO, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 18.Danny TIATTO, 19.Isaka CERNAK (61-), 20.Griffin McMASTER, 33.HENRIQUE. *one to be omitted.
In: 18.Danny TIATTO Out: Nil. Unavailable: 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN (injured - groin), 11.REINALDO, 12.Tahj MINNIECON (injured - hip).