Preview: Perth Glory v Adelaide United
This match has 'Christmas cracker' written all over it as the Reds look to keep the ball rolling after their 6-1 belting of Wellington a fortnight ago, while the Glory look to stay in touch with the top four.
Preview: Perth Glory v Adelaide United
Date: Friday December 26 Kick-off: 8:00pm local (10:00 pm AEDT) Venue: Members Equity Stadium TV and Radio:
Head-to-head 10 Hyundai A-League meetings: Perth - 2 wins, Melbourne - 4 wins, Draws - 4.
Previous meeting Adelaide 2, Perth 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, Round 9, October 2008
Past Five Games Perth Glory: Round 12: Queensland Roar 4, Perth Glory 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 13: Perth Glory 2, Central Coast Mariners 2, Members Equity Stadium Round 14: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 15: Wellington Phoenix 1, Perth Glory 1, Westpac Stadium Round 16: Sydney FC 1, Perth Glory 4, Sydney Football Stadium
Adelaide United: Round 10: Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 11: Central Coast 3, Adelaide United 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 12: Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1, Adelaide United 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 14: Adelaide United 6, Wellington Phoenix 1, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis This match has 'Christmas cracker' written all over it as the Reds look to keep the ball rolling after their 6-1 belting of Wellington a fortnight ago, while the Glory look to stay in touch with the top four.
Both of these elements add up to making this one of the most competitive and eagerly anticipated clashes of the season. Despite the two sides' relative positions on the table, the Reds have only managed one-goal wins over the Glory in the two previous occasions they've played this season while Perth goes into the match with one of the best home records of all sides and its tail up, having beaten Sydney 4-1 at the SFS last weekend.
Perth has several big inclusions for this match, starting with Dutch import Victor Sikora.
If the former Ajax player and Netherlands international receives his clearance in time, he could play his first game for the Glory on Boxing Day as an injury replacement for Brazilian midfielder Amaral, who will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
If Sikora plays, Glory National Youth League skipper Andrija Jukic will make way.
Defender Dino Djulbic has also been included in the squad but whether he lines up at left or centre back after trialling with German club SpVgg Greuther Furth, remains to be seen, as the defence has only conceded two goals in the last two games without him.
Midfielders Scott Bulloch and Mark Lee have also been included in Dave Mitchell's squad but four players will be omitted.
At the heart of the Glory's defence will be Nikolai Topor-Stanley and stand-in skipper Jamie Harnwell, deputising for the injured Jamie Coyne (calf), but they'll have to be on their toes to withstand Adelaide's own lightning-fast skipper Travis Dodd and the skilful Brazilian combination of Cassio and Cristiano.
First-year player Cristiano blasted in a superb 25-metre strike to give the Reds a 1-0 win over African champion Al-Ahly from Egypt and fifth place in the FIFA Club World Cup, where Adelaide also beat New Zealand's Waitakere and suffered a narrow loss to regional rival Gamba Osaka.
Domestically both Cristiano and Cassio are coming off scoring braces in the Reds' 6-1 win over Wellington, giving the Glory's defence plenty of headaches, especially as Cristiano will be desperate to consolidate his place in the starting line-up after being used off the bench several times by coach Aurelio Vidmar.
Adelaide's fortnight in Japan makes it difficult to assess the club's form heading into this match, though.
The five-goal win over Wellington certainly seems an aberration as it's only happened on three other occasions in this competition, the last time being Queensland's 5-0 victory over the New Zealand Knights early in 2006/07.
Prior to that result, the Reds had been on the end of a 3-0 loss to Central Coast and a narrow loss to Melbourne as well, although they did defeat the inconsistent Sydney 2-0.
Adelaide was also fortunate to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle, indicating that an effective defence can hold the Reds' forwards in check.
Adelaide also has several big inclusions for this match with Angelo Costanzo, Michael Valkanis, Daniel Mullen, Robert Younis and Jason Spagnuolo, who is poised to join North Queensland next season, all being promoted.
Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti will miss the next six matches though after injuring his ankle while Diego's quadriceps injury will see him miss two games.
Perth Glory Squad. 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 3.David TARKA, 5.Jamie HARNWELL (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Nick RIZZO, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21.Mark LEE, 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY, 28.Andrija JUKIC, 29.Victor SIKORA. * four to be omitted.
In. 6.Dino DJULBIC (promoted), 11.Scott BULLOCH (promoted), 21.Mark LEE (promoted), 29.Victor SIKORA (pending clearance). Out. Nil. Unavailable. Josip MAGDIC (ankle - season), AMARAL (hamstring - season), James ROBINSON (abdomen - 1 weeks), Hayden FOXE (leg - test), Jamie COYNE (calf - 2 weeks), Hayden DOYLE (ankle - tba).
Adelaide United. 20.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Angelo COSTANZO, 5.Michael VALKANIS, 6.CASSIO, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 10.CRISTIANO, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Jonas SALLEY, 16.Daniel MULLEN, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 24.Paul REID, 25.Robert YOUNIS, *2 to be omitted
In. 4.Angelo COSTANZO (promoted), 5.Michael VALKANIS (promoted), 16.Daniel MULLEN (promoted), 21.Jason SPAGNUOLO (promoted), 25.Robert YOUNIS (promoted). Out. Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) (ankle - 6 weeks), Diego (quad - 2 weeks) Unavailable. Daniel BELTRAME (knee - season), Lucas Pantelis (knee - Indefinite).