Preview: Gold Coast v Adelaide
Gold Coast is looking to make it five home wins in a row when it takes on Adelaide in the battle of the Uniteds, but is facing an opponent reportedly treating this game as a mini 'grand final'.
Date: Saturday January 9 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST, 9:00pm AEDT Venue: Skilled Park TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 2. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 107.9 Life FM (Adelaide). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au.
Head-to-head Played 2: Wins: Gold Coast United 1, Adelaide United 0. Draws: 1
Previous meeting Adelaide United 1, Gold Coast United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 15, November 2009
Past five matches: Gold Coast: Round 16: Melbourne Victory 4, Gold Coast United 0, Etihad Stadium Round 17: Gold Coast United 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, Skilled Park Round 18: Newcastle Jets 3, Gold Coast United 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 20: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 0, Skilled Park Round 21: Gold Coast United 5, Brisbane Roar 1, Skilled Park
Adelaide United: Round 16: North Queensland 2, Adelaide United 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 17: Adelaide United 0, Newcastle Jets 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 20: Adelaide United 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 21: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, Sydney Football Stadium
Analysis: Gold Coast is looking to make it five home wins in a row when it takes on Adelaide in the battle of the Uniteds, but is facing an opponent reportedly treating this game as a mini 'grand final'.
It's hardly surprising the Reds are up for a fight. Last on the table, Adelaide is more than aware its chances of making the finals are steadily slipping away as it struggles to hit the back of the net. After 20 games last season, Adelaide had 14 more goals to its name than this season. Not surprisingly it also had 14 more points and was headed towards a date with destiny against Melbourne in the real 'grand final'.
It's fair to say 2009 hasn't been a stellar year, but Aurelio Vidmar's men now find themselves in a new year and with a chance to salvage something from this season in a very tight league. More importantly, the club's had time over Christmas to get injured players, like the instrumental Paul Reid, back to full fitness, while others have had time to mentally readjust, get over the niggles, and prepare for a big finish.
Having lost its last game against Sydney just before the New Year, Vidmar has finally bitten the bullet and chosen a particularly attacking squad for Saturday night's trip to the Coast. Strikers Lloyd Owuso and National Youth League goal machine Francesco Monterosso have both been selected. Goals have been few and far between for Owusu at any level this season. But he receives what may amount to be a last chance from Vidmar, although the coach still has to omit four players, with Cassio also returning from injury and Robert Cornwthwaite promoted. Alemao is the only player to drop out with a hip injury.
A full-strength United side, however, probably isn't the team to face if its confidence one's looking for. Adelaide can take some heart from the fact Gold Coast has conceded 30 goals this term - the fourth worst in the league - but will still be more than aware many of those goals shipped came on nights when the club's defence was ravaged by injury and suspension. This time around, with the exception of the unfortunate Adama Traore, United has virtually a full-strength defence, with Kristian Rees sure to be bubbling with confidence after his two goals last round in a 5-1 crushing of local rival Brisbane.
That scoreline probably isn't a true reflection on the game, however, particularly as Brisbane opened the scoring and dominated until former Adelaide boy Rees equalised back just before the break. With momentum suddenly behind United, Shane Smeltz took advantage of the Roar defence, who's confidence visibly sagged, as he nailed a second-half hat-trick to be on 18 goals this season, two more than an entire Adelaide team has produced this year.
With three wins from its last four, United is looking to build towards a maiden finals appearance. Skipper Jason Culina has been named in the squad despite suffering a knee injury against the Roar that kept him out of Australia's 2-2 draw with Kuwait. Coach Miron Bleiberg will be hoping the extra rest proves enough for Culina, although there must still be some doubt. Matt Osman, James Brown, Andrew Barisic and Steven Lustica have all been named in an extended Gold Coast squad that will have two omitted.
United still faces a tough time breaking down Adelaide's defence. It may not be quite as solid as last year but is still up there. It's midfield and up front where Adelaide's lacked quality, but the club appears to have a number of players back who can provide that and this game may prove a sterner test for Gold Coast than third versus last implies. But if GCU gets on a roll and Smeltz starts bagging goals, then this could still be a big night on the glitter strip.
Gold Coast squad: 1.Jess VANSTRATTAN [gk], 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 18.James BROWN, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 25,Steven LUSTICA, 34.Charlie MILLER.
*two to be omitted*
In: Matt OSMAN (promoted), James BROWN (promoted), Andrew BARISIC (promoted), Steven LUSTICA (promoted)
Out: Steve PANTELIDIS (suspended - 2 matches), Adama TRAORE (ankle injury - 3 weeks)
Unavailable: Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite), ROBSON (knee injury - 3 weeks), JEFFERSON (knee injury - indefinite)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 12. Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Mark RUDAN
*four to be omitted*
In: CASSIO (returns from injury), Lloyd OWUSU (promoted), Robert CORNTHWAITE (promoted), Francesco MONTEROSSO (promoted)
Out: ALEMAO (Hip - Test)
Unavailable: Joe COSTA (knee - long term injury list), Kristian SARKIES (quad - 1 week)