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Adelaide United take on reigning champions Sydney FC in week 1 of the 2019/20 A-League season at Coopers Stadium this Friday at 7:30pm (AEST). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
Sydney FC has used this off season strengthening an already experienced and talented team, sounding a massive warning to the rest of the competition.
Joining top-tier A-League stars Milos Ninkovic and Adan Le Fondre for 2019-20 is the former Wanderer Alex Baumjohann, Victory wideman Kosta Barbarouses, City’s ball player Luke Brattan and Socceroo Ryan McGowan to sure-up defence.
It’s effectively an all-star A-League forward five now at Sydney, and manager Steve Corica has a wealth of diverse talents to structure up his forward play.
Barbarouses, in particular, can go out wide to give Corica the option of playing a 4-3-3, or fit inside in Corica’s regular 4-2-2-2.
Baumjohann can play anywhere in the midfield or upfront, and Brattan should slot in beside Brandon O’Neill to transition with more fluidity.
The big out for Sydney is Josh Brillante, who joined City in something of a player swap with Luke Brattan. While Brillante has his flaws, he did stiffen the Sydney midfield and a lot of destructive work now falls on Brandon O’Neill’s shoulders.
Adelaide United has also made significant changes, with a “talisman exchange” of Craig Goodwin out, who has moved to Saudi Arabia, for local boy Riley McGree who was officially purchased from Club Brugge for a reported fee of $150K.
McGree seems to be an A-League veteran but is still only 20, and is coming off a frustrating season on loan (from Brugge) in Warren Joyce’s turgid Melbourne City.
Club legend Isaias has also vacated the Adelaide midfield, leaving a few questions and unknowns in his place.
His former midfield partners Vince Lia and Mirko Boland remain, but neither is renowned for their pace or exquisite passing range.
McGree is a creative weapon who was never really allowed to express himself at City, and may slot into a midfield pair as a box-to-box option for the Reds.
Having to keep an eye on McGree may be a distraction to Brattan and O’Neill that the Reds could use to capitalise in this game.
Adelaide’s other major renovation from last season is at manager. German Marco Kurz has left for Victory, and in comes Gertjan Verbeek.
The Dutchman has started strongly, steering Adelaide into the final of the FFA Cup. But a league fixture against the reigning champions is the perfect level to measure his squad and tactics against.
For this fixture, which falls in an international window (why, A-League, why?), Sydney is the heaviest hit with both Rhyan Grant and goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne off with the Socceroos.
They are big losses at the back for Sydney, but with their front 5 they should create enough chances to overcome any gaps in their defence.
There could be goals in this game. Expect an open contest, especially as Sydney transition, and it will be fascinating to see whether Verbeek takes Sydney on or takes a more conservative approach.
Sydney could leak goals with this makeshift defence, but ultimately should have enough firepower to produce a winning score.
Adelaide United 1 – Sydney FC 3