Marrone explains Adelaide's defensive resurgence

Adelaide United's defensive performance this season is even more extraordinary when you consider half of the 28 goals they conceded came during a four-game stretch early in the season.


Adelaide's Michael Marrone and Marcelo Carrusca Source: Getty Images

It's been a remarkable turn of form for Adelaide United, who went from bottom of the A-League table after 8 rounds to taking out the Premiers' Plate, and right-back Michael Marrone hailed how far his side has come.

"Yeah, we had a couple of big losses," he said. "I remember we shipped four goals in a couple of games and three in at least one other, so we shipped all those goals and we've still got that stat, so we're happy with that."

Marrone is talking about the fact Adelaide had clearly the best defence in the competition over the 27 rounds. Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory were in joint-second, conceding 33 apiece.

That four-game stretch, from round three to six, saw Adelaide record losses to Perth Glory (3-1 away), Brisbane Roar (3-0 away), Melbourne City (4-2, home) and Wellington Phoenix (4-2 away).

It was, of course, part of an awful run to start the season. Adelaide didn't win a game in the first eight rounds, losing five and drawing three. All up, they conceded 17 goals during that period and had just two clean sheets.

In the 19 games after that, Adelaide recorded 14 wins, four draws and one loss. They conceded a miserly 11 goals and had 11 clean sheets.

So why is Adelaide's defence so good? Marrone said there were two key factors, related to tactical nous and work rate.

"The first thing is how we set up and the tactics that are involved there, and the second thing is we run," Marrone said.

"We've got a team full of players who don't stop running for each other, all game. The young boys and the older boys, they all run.

"But you've got to have the tactics set out right or you're just running pointlessly and we've got a really good set-up. Everyone knows their roles and where they need to be at certain times and what they need to do.

"So if the opposition have the ball and a certain player has got it, we'll have a fair idea what they'll try to do from there and we'll know whether it's time to put pressure on or drop off.

"Everyone knows their roles to a 't' now. It was a bit rough at the beginning of the season, but we got there."

Adelaide's defensive line-up is markedly different this season to previous seasons, when Nigel Boogaard and Osama Malik were mainstays in the centre of it.

Boogaard left at the end of last season to join Newcastle Jets and Malik was traded midway through this season for midfielder Stefan Mauk, from Melbourne City. Mauk has proven to be a great acquisition, adding plenty to the attack.

The back four for the first round, a 0-0 draw with Melbourne Victory at Adelaide Oval, starting from left-back across, was: Craig Goodwin, Dylan McGowan, Malik and Marrone. Tarek Elich was unavailable due to international duty and Iacopo La Rocca was out injured.

Mid-season, in the round-14 game against Perth Glory away, which Adelaide won 3-1, it was Elrich, Jordan Elsey, McGowan and Marrone. La Rocca was un unused substitute.

In the last round, a 2-0 win away over Melbourne City which ended up clinching the Premier's Plate for Adelaide, it was Goodwin, McGowan, Iacopo La Rocca and Marrone. Elrich was out injured and Elsey was on the bench.

La Rocca has only played 10 games this season, mainly because of a foot injury, but he is clearly a big part of the back four now and with Elrich due back for week two of the finals coach Guillermo Amor's preferred back four will presumably be Elrich, McGowan, La Rocca and Marrone.

Adelaide have this weekend off and will play in a semi-final, for a place in the grand final, at Coopers Stadium next Friday.

Marrone said that while the football adage "everyone's a defender" applied at Adelaide, with all players expected to pile on the pressure defensively, starting from the front, it remained critically important to have a great goalkeeper and Eugene Galekovic fits that bill.

Reds captain Galekovic missed the early rounds through injury, but is still the runaway leader for clean sheets among A-League goalkeepers this season. He has 12 in his 20 games.

"When you've got a 'keeper like 'Eug' behind you, it gives you the confidence to be able to defend on the front foot," Marrone said.

"You know the shots from distance he's more than likely going to be able to handle them, so it gives you a lot of confidence as a defender - or any player in the team."

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
5 min read
Published 14 April 2016 at 3:49pm
By Greg Prichard