Preview: Sydney FC v Adelaide United
Date: Sunday August 16, Kick-off: 5:00pm AEST There used to be plenty more feeling in this contest during the John Kosmina days at both clubs but while this promises to be a less niggly affair, make no mistake, the final clash of a big second round will be as tough as they come.
Date: Sunday August 16 Kick-off: 5:00pm AEST, 4:30 pm ACST Venue: Sydney Football Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is LIFE FM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 14 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Sydney 7, Adelaide 5, Draws - 2
Previous meeting Adelaide FC 2, Sydney FC 0, Adelaide Oval, Round 18, January 2008
Season so far: Sydney FC: Round 1: North Queensland Fury 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Adelaide United: Round 1: Adelaide United 1, Perth Glory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis: There used to be plenty more feeling in this contest during the John Kosmina days at both clubs but while this promises to be a less niggly affair, make no mistake, the final clash of a big second round will be as tough as they come.
In an engrossing encounter at Hindmarsh Stadium last week, the Reds demonstrated once again what an excellent defensive unit they are. Despite missing the talents of star signings Mark Rudan and Lloyd Owusu, Adelaide lined up with a five-man midfield that strangled the life out of any Perth Glory forward raids. The Glory had gone into that match with one of the most expensive line-ups in Hyundai A-League history but left the city of churches feeling like they'd been mugged.
Facing a tough road trip to the Sydney Football Stadium, it would be surprising to see coach Aurelio Vidmar straying too much from the formula. The coach is still lacking his star signings Rudan and Owusu and as a result, the Reds will once again attempt to strangle Sydney's forward movement through a 4-5-1 formation designed to starve John Aloisi of chances.
Former Sydney captain Rudan is still unavailable following his transfer from VC Vaduz while Owusu has been kept in cotton wool after an untimely bout of swine flu. Vidmar, though, has been able to draft Insheob Shin into his squad after having to pull him out at the last minute last week when his clearance from the Korean Football Federation didn't come through. Shin represents something of an X-factor in this encounter but it seems more likely he could be used as a gamebreaker off the subs bench.
Defender Lucas Pantelis has recovered from a corked hip that saw him limp from the field in the 17th minute last week, while key holding midfielder Paul Reid has been cleared of any concussion from the Glory game.
While Adelaide will almost certainly take a defensive approach, Sydney seems likely to go the other way after winning a shoot-out with new boys North Queensland last weekend. It's difficult to get a real reading on where the Sky Blues are at from that encounter though. For instance, would Sydney's midfield have been allowed to stroll forward to set up scoring opportunities if they were coming up against a strong, cohesive midfield and defence? Although the goals to Aloisi and teenage star Kofi Danning were superb strikes, it would appear they will have less opportunity to replicate those efforts against the committed Reds. And, after conceding two goals to the Fury, question marks still hover over the Sky Blues' defence as well.
Vitezslav Lavicka took a somewhat unfamiliar back four into last weekend that comprised of new signings Stephan Keller and Sung Hwan Byun alongside Shannon Cole and Simon Colosimo. Cole has been switched from his regular left back position where he excelled last season to the right and the result left the Sky Blues defence somewhat unsettled and thereby vulnerable to the threat posed by underrated Fury midfielder Jason Spagnulo.
With an extra week under its belt Sydney's defence should work as a more cohesive unit this time around behind a midfield featuring former Slovakian international Karol Kisel and skipper Steve Corica, who should start this week after being played off the bench in Round 1 following a back strain.
Much of Sydney's attacking threat, though, lies with the skilful Danning and, of course, that man Aloisi. Last season he only managed two goals in 16 matches but this time around, he did it in just 74 minutes following an excellent pre-season. Danning provides the perfect foil for the one-time Australian striker, as he possesses an excellent shot himself and an ability to find the right through ball to fully exploit Aloisi's talents. The Reds will look to defend and attack Sydney on the counter. They may be successful too if Sydney's back four hasn't quite gelled, but the entire Reds side will need to be wary of Danning and Aloisi, for as the Fury discovered, they can turn a match in a heartbeat.
Sydney FC: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 5. Mitchell PRENTICE, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry MCFLYNN, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN. *Two to be omitted.
In: 5. Mitchell PRENTICE (promoted), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (promoted).
Unavailable: 2. Sebastian RYALL (suspended - 3 weeks)
Adelaide United Squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 23.Joe COSTA, 30.Daniel GODLEY (gk). *two to be omitted
In: 16.Inseob SHIN (promoted), 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) (returns from international duty)
Unavailable: Daniel MULLEN (hamstring - 2 weeks), Kristian SARKIES (calf - 2 weeks), Fabian BARBIERO (groin - 2 weeks)