Galekovic and Adelaide to draw on tight-knit defence to overcome Wanderers

Star goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic said he feels as ready as ever to make a killer save if that's what it takes for Adelaide United to win the A-League grand final over Western Sydney Wanderers at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.


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Galekovic hasn't been overloaded with work recently because Adelaide's defence has been so good, but he has played in the grand final before, and also for Australia, and he knows there is always the chance the result in a big game like this could come down to one moment of truth.

Asked by The World Game if he felt as capable as ever of meeting that challenge, if it came, the Reds skipper replied: "Yeah, for sure. It's the role of the goalkeeper to be ready whenever you're called upon and if I'm called upon I have to be ready.

"I have to stay focused for 90 minutes, or 120 minutes, however long it takes, and be ready to make that crucial save if necessary."

Adelaide had the best defence in the regular season, conceding 28 goals in 27 games. Seventeen of those goals went in during the team's winless run over the first eight rounds, which means they conceded just 11 in the 19 rounds after that.

The ultimate proof of the team's defensive ability came during their last two games. They played Melbourne City on each occasion - in the final round of the regular season and a semi-final - and kept the competition's runaway leading goal-scorer, Bruno Fornaroli, scoreless in 2-0 and 4-1 wins.

Asked why the defence was so good, Galekovic said a lot of it came down to the fact Adelaide were prepared to defend from the front, starting with striker Bruce Djite.

"We believe that when we attack, we attack starting from myself," Galekovic said.

"We start our attacks from our defence and we start our defence from Bruce.

"Bruce works his butt off to put pressure on their centre-backs and if it gets past that line, our midfield then works really hard.

"There's a lot more defensive pressure up the field and because those players do such a great job, our back four have less pressure to deal with.

"Our defence has come from all 11 players on the pitch. When we press, we press together and that's what we've been doing so well lately and that's why we haven't let in many goals."

Even when Adelaide were making great strides as a team under Josep Gombau's coaching in the previous two years, they could still be ragged in their transition to defence after turnovers, and they conceded a lot of goals that way.

This season, their recovery after losing possession has been consistently excellent. Adelaide generally put the pressure straight back on the team in possession.

"Exactly right and it's in our attacking half of the pitch that we've been able to win the ball back a lot," Galekovic said.

"So when we do win the ball, we're often in the opposition's half already and we don't have to attack from 100 metres away, we can attack from 30 metres away."

Galekovic agreed it was not always easy to convince a striker to be prepared to do that sort of defensive work, but said Djite didn't have a problem with it.

"It can be difficult, but when you've got a striker like Bruce - you're already on the right track because he has always worked hard," he said.

"If we want to play that way then we've got the striker to do that and Bruce has been fantastic. He's scoring a lot of goals now as well, and it's great for him to reach the heights he has done leading into the grand final."

Djite, after ending a goal drought mid-season that had stretched well back into last season, has been pounding the goals in recently. He has six in his last four games and 11 for the season.

At the other end of the field, Galekovic, who was missing from the team in the early part of the season due to injury, still finished the regular season as the competition's runaway leader for clean sheets, with 12.

"Personally, I haven't had to do too much work and that's because of the players in front of me. And that's how I want to keep it," Galekovic said.

"I'd rather communicate and tell people in front of me what to do and where to be and have nothing to do myself rather than be busy making a lot of saves, because if it's the latter then we're probably eventually going to concede. So if my situation stays how it's been I'll be more than happy."

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5 min read
Published 30 April 2016 at 3:57pm
By Greg Prichard