Feature

Forget the rest – it’s going to be an Adelaide and Western Sydney grand final

The recent top of the table clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City was touted as an A-League grand final preview, but I disagree - it's too hard to look past Adelaide United’s meteoric rise.

Wanderers

Source: AAP

The Reds are unbeaten in their last nine clashes, and have picked up seven wins in this remarkable run.

But what has been even more impressive is their tight-knit defence, which has conceded a meagre four goals during this brilliant period.

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Most are looking at Melbourne City as potential grand finalists, along with Western Sydney, but John van’t Schip’s side have conceded a whopping 16 goals in their last nine outings.



City


City fans will jump up and down, pointing to the 25 goals their side scored in those games, but last Friday’s clash showed their Achilles’ heel – their defence.

It is the difference at the business end of the season - and at the moment Adelaide have found the perfect balance between their defence and attack.

The Reds have scored 16 goals while only conceding four in their last nine games.

Sydney FC are floundering under the weight of Graham Arnold's negativity, Melbourne Victory will struggle with their impending AFC Champions League campaign, and unfortunately for Brisbane Roar, John Aloisi's lack of experience at the pointy end of the season will count against them. It is a two horse race.
The credit has to go to Adelaide coach Guillermo Amor.

Some called for the Barcelona legend’s sacking after his side only managed three draws in the first eight rounds of the season.

But Amor didn't panic. 

He meticulously planned the Reds’ revival and the proof is in the pudding. 

Amor would have taken solace in the way previous coach, compatriot Josep Gombau, turned around a similarly sluggish start to enjoy an ultimately successful tenure.

Stats


It's no coincidence Adelaide and Western Sydney have Spanish influences in their group.

Adelaide United have Pablo Sanchez, Isaias, Sergio Cirio and coach Amor, while the Wanderers' Spanish flavour comes from Alberto, Andreu, Dimas and assistant coach Andres Carrasco.

The Spanish style of passing and ball retention took until round four to really click for the Wanderers, which precipitated a ten game unbeaten run, and a staggering seven wins on the trot.

It took Amor's Adelaide a little longer to adjust, with his subtle changes to the tactics employed by Gombau, namely a less intense style of pressing.

Amor's sleepless nights were worth it though, because their much-needed round nine win over Perth Glory kick-started their flagging season.

Adelaide


The Reds have a chance to equal the Wanderers’ 10-game unbeaten run in , and I wouldn't be surprised to see Amor’s side force their way into the all-important top two - they are only five points off second as it is.

On current form, they're my competition favourites.  


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3 min read
Published 4 February 2016 at 3:28pm
By Patrick Nugent