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Melbourne City FC
Melbourne City FC
|79'||N. L. Brattan|
|I. S. CortA(C)s||27'|
It’s A-League finals time, and the second elimination final pits Adelaide United at home to Melbourne City at Coopers Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7pm AEST.
Adelaide confirmed a home final in the final round of the season in somewhat eccentric style after a 5-3 victory over ninth-placed Brisbane.
Adelaide was unconvincing in the first half and trailed at the break, but found the right gear in the second half to break away.
That win, on top of their excellent penultimate round win over Victory, cemented their claim over fourth position.
Adelaide’s opponent in this final is the unlikely Melbourne City, who inconceivably overcame a goal difference of six to leapfrog Wellington into fifth.
It was another yo in a yo-yoing this season for City, whose form has varied wildly week on week without threatening their hold on a finals spot.
Their 5-0 win over an abject Central Coast was a real confidence boost, and allowed them to both rest key players and blood new talent.
Remy Najjarine’s goal at the death warmed City (and Olyroo) hearts and introduced him to audiences as a potential X-factor off the bench.
For Adelaide Craig Goodwin was ominously good in the second half in Brisbane, invoking the early season form that made him the most damaging player in the league.
He got on the scoresheet, set up another, and generally terrorised the right side of Brisbane’s defence. With ten goals, nine assists (league leading) and 70 chances created (second in the league), Goodwin is a legitimate A-League matchwinner.
With George Blackwood finding the scoresheet twice in two weeks, and striker Baba Diawara making his return in Brisbane – and scoring – there is a lot of momentum behind the Reds and their emerging arsenal of forward talent.
City has a good squad with proven A-League talent, but seem to lack a gamebreaker. January signing Jamie Maclaren has scored five in eight games and can pile them in; but their other creative talent – Riley McGree and Luke Brattan – have been bounced around the formation all year and struggled to influence games outside of moments of brilliance.
Warren Joyce never seems to know his best 11 – especially odd for a manager who maintains a consistent possession-oriented game plan.
Case in point: Riley McGree has been moved across the right, in the 10-position and spent long stretches of time on the bench.
If City is to win this game they will need McGree and Brattan to distribute the ball around Adelaide’s press, and deeper lying midfielders Isaias and Boland to find their forwards in space.
Adelaide has favoured a 4-2-3-1 with a heavy press in recent weeks. City found joy last week against the Mariners by playing Brattan deeper and sitting McGree in behind the striker (Vidosic on this occastion).
With Adelaide’s press, Brattan will need to play in a deeper role again to utilise his close control and passing to play around Halloran, Blackwood, Goodwin and Mileusnic nipping at the heels of the City midfield and back 4.
There are no shocks in the selection. City has brought back their A-team and relegated their juniors, and Adelaide will be tempted to start Jordan Elsey after his successful return to football last week. But really, this game could be won and lost on the team sheet.
Adelaide should win this game. They’re in excellent form, have an elite (by A-League standards) forward in Goodwin and a high functioning gameplan.
But City has a solid back four, and some sprinkling of magic in their forward third to trouble Adelaide.
Honestly, City’s chances come down to Joyce’s selections. If he goes with Griffiths and Baccus in midfield they won’t stand a chance. If he uses Brattan deeper to open-up the field, then it’s a different ballgame.
Adelaide United 2 – Melbourne City 1