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Western United FC
Western United FC
Western United have started off their first A-League campaign just as they would have liked, defeating Wellington Phoenix 1-0, courtesy of a first-half Besart Berisha goal.
This was certainly a rivalry to remember as the match went to 100 minutes because of constant stoppages in play. There was no love lost between Mark Rudan’s side and the Nix, as the two teams constantly faced off against each other, face to face, literally.
Besart Berisha’s goal was the difference-maker, after Alessandro Diamanti launched a diagonal through ball for Connor Pain.
Pain squared it for Joshua Risdon who selflessly placed it for Berisha to find the net, as the former Melbourne Victory striker became the first goalscorer for the new club.
After an insipid first half, Wellington Phoenix raised the game in the second, but could never create any clear cut opportunities.
It’s clear that they miss the forward trio from last season, and it will take some time for their new players to adapt.
Diamanti, though, has shown how quickly he has taken to the A-League as he controlled the game from start to finish.
His cultured left foot was constantly putting in balls behind the defence. His every touch oozed class.
Diamanti will be sure to be someone to watch for Western United’s team, and if he keeps playing like that, they could well make the finals.
United coach, Mark Rudan, will be ecstatic for their first win, especially against his old side where there have been plenty of words exchanged in recent weeks.
As for the Phoenix, it will be back to the drawing board for new head coach Ufuk Talay.
Wellington Phoenix 0
Western United 1
Western United’s first-ever competitive game has them taking on Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon at the Westpac Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 4pm (AEDT).
Although United are yet to play a game in the A-League, there is still plenty of bad blood in this fixture which assures that both teams will be gunning for a win.
The new team’s head coach, Mark Rudan, was of course the man that lead Wellington’s revival last season, before quickly departing at the soonest opportunity and taking along with him several of the Nix’s players.
Rudan is likely to set his team up in a very similar shape to what he had at Wellington, with a back three and a front two with a playmaker in behind.
Given that the New Zealand team played some scintillating football last season, you can expect more of the same from the A-League’s newest team.
Ufuk Talay arrives in Wellington as the man to step into the big shoes left by Rudan, and he has taken a different approach to his predecessor, setting up in a 4-2-2-2, akin to Sydney FC, where Talay was assistant manager last season.
The Nix have added former Chelsea attacker Ulises Davila, but there are questions they have the goals to replace the exits of Roy Krishna, David Williams and Sarpreet Singh.
Both teams are expected to be near the foot of the ladder this season, and with them both adapting to new environments, this might be a bit of an ugly match to spectate.
Wellington are at home though, so I’m going for a scrappy 2-1 victory to the New Zealand side.
Where: Westpac Stadium
When: 13 October 2019, 4pm AEDT
Betting odds: Wellington Phoenix $2.88, Draw $3.50, Western United $2.40