So, after a long and boring pre-season, the A-League is back and looking better than ever.
With a new team and a host of new signings around the league, this season looks to be closer than ever. But before that, let’s focus on the opening round of the 2019-20 A-League campaign.
Adelaide United versus Sydney FC. It is always a close match, and Adelaide is very hard to score against at home. But there’s something more than three points up for grabs in Adelaide this week.
For Adelaide United, after losing star players Craig Goodwin, Scott Galloway, their influential captain Isais and coach Marco Kurz, they will want to prove that nothing has really changed and that they can still challenge into the top four and for a grand final spot.
For Sydney, they lost influential playmaker Siem De Jong, midfield engine Josh Brillante and captain Alex Brosque. They also brought in a new centre-back in Ryan McGowan after losing Aaron Calver due to him wanting game time and not wanting to sign Jop Van Der Linden, who had a disappointing season.
They will also be looking to show the league that they can challenge for the grand final and that nothing has changed in terms of winning.
Adelaide United squad
When Adelaide United played Central Coast Mariners in the FFA Cup, they lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with George Blackwood playing between the lines in the attacking-midfielder role. He did score, but the role will most likely now be handed to former Melbourne Victory playmaker James Troisi, who will look to work his magic through the middle.
However, after only being signed six days ago, he might not be started. This could be because he hasn’t linked up with his teammates well enough yet, and fitness could also be an issue. Another battle for a starting position is the central striker position.
This will most likely go to Kristian Opseth, but the wildcard option is nineteen-year-old wonder-kid Alhassan Toure. Toure was starting left-wing against the Mariners, but this spot will most likely be given to Nikola Mileusnic, who impressed when he was brought on.
Paul Izzo is also back in the squad, and will most likely start after being injured in the FFA Cup semi-final.
Adelaide United predicted line-up
Formation: 4-2-3-1 (wide)
GK: Isaac Richards
LB: Ryan Kitto
CB: Michael Jakobsen
CB: Jordan Elsey
RB: Ryan Strain
CDM: Louis D’Arrigo
CDM: Riley McGree
LM: Nikola Mileusnic
CAM: James Troisi
RM: Ben Halloran
ST: Kristian Opseth
Sydney FC squad
Sydney FC had a big off-season, bringing in former Western Sydney Wanderers playmaker Alex Baumjohann, electric striker Kosta Barbarouses and pass master Luke Brattan to replace these players, and they will be looking to prove themselves and show why Sydney paid the big bucks for them.
In a pre-match interview, Ryan McGowan said they had been experimenting with different formations and players, so we could see a change from Steve Corica’s beloved 4-2-2-2, but it is unlikely. Tom Heward-Belle has been confirmed to replace Andrew Redmayne in goal due to Redmayne being away with the Socceroos, and Paulo Retre will most likely replace Rhyan Grant at right-back.
Other than this, they will most likely play the side that started against Brisbane Roar, except with Luke Brattan instead of Anthony Caceres.
Sydney FC Predicted Line-up
GK: Tom Heward-Belle
LB: Michael Zullo
CB: Alex Wilkinson
CB: Ryan McGowan
RB: Paulo Retre
CDM: Brandon O’Neil
CDM: Luke Brattan
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Alex Baumjohann
ST: Adam Le Fondre
ST: Kosta Barbarouses
Predicted Match Result
Adelaide United versus Sydney FC is always a tight match, and I doubt that this would be an exception. I predict that it will be a 1-1 draw, with James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses finding the scoresheet.