Revitalised La Rocca sweats on Adelaide's Asian squad

Adelaide United defender Iacopo La Rocca has been an instant hit after making his A-League debut for the club three rounds ago but he has no idea if he'll play in the Reds' AFC Champions League campaign.

La Rocca

Iacopo La Rocca has re-invented himself as a centre-half Source: Getty Images

Adelaide face the winners of a playoff between China's Shandong Luneng and India's Mohun Bagan in a one-off final qualifier at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday week for the right to play in the group stages of the competition proper.

La Rocca, who was a member of the Western Sydney Wanderers team that won the title in 2014, has starred in the Reds' last three matches at centre-half after overcoming an early-season injury.

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But he is sweating on Amor's decision that will be made on deadline day on Tuesday night.



"It will be hard for Guillermo to pick the three out of our five foreigners and I would not want to be in his position," he explained.

"It all depends on what the coach wants from the team (from a tactical sense).

"All five of us want to play in the Champions League which is a fantastic competition.

"I'd like to think that my experience in Asian football with the Wanderers might give me the edge but I'm not so sure because, to be honest, all five of us in the squad have international experience."

Adelaide's foreigners are Isaias Sanchez, Marcelo Carrusca, Pablo Sanchez, Sergio Cirio and La Rocca. Two of these five will miss out.

La Rocca made a name for himself in Australia as a holding midfielder and his conversion to stopper would have taken many, including himself, by surprise.

"I did not expect this because when I arrived in June coach Josep Gombau was still here and he basically signed me as a defensive midfielder," La Rocca said.

"But then Guillermo took over and I started training as a centre-back.

"The role is not new to me because when I was playing in Switzerland I was basically a stopper and I only played in midfield when the coach needed me to.

"I prefer to play in the middle of the field because this gives me an opportunity to score or make assists.

"But in the Adelaide team we do things differently to how we played at the Wanderers.

"Over here the two centre-backs are expected to play out from the back so in a way I am still involved in the game."
La Rocca said morale at the Wanderers had reached a low ebb last year mainly because of their low position in the table and his move to Adelaide after he was deemed surplus to requirements at Parramatta had revitalised his career.

"Something was missing at the Wanderers and we did not do well in the last months of the season," he said.

"So my move to Adelaide was the best thing that could have happened to me even though the first few months were not easy due to a small fracture in my left foot.

"But now I'm happy because I'm playing and it looks like I'm doing okay."

La Rocca said he had nothing but gratitude for his teammates for making his transition to Adelaide as smooth as possible.

The presence of several players and coaches of Hispanic origin helped too, he said.

"Tarek Elrich, whom I played with at the Wanderers, told me before I signed that this was a tremendous playing group and of course the fact that there are so many Hispanic players in the squad helped me adjust quickly.

"After only one week in Adelaide I felt I was already part of the team. But, in all honesty, since I came to Australia in 2012 I found nothing but friendliness and help from all my teammates."

The Reds are unbeaten in nine matches after a poor start to the season and at this stage they must be seen as outsiders for the championship.

They are in sixth spot only seven points from leaders Western Sydney and, more importantly, playing very well.

"We have a tough game against Sydney FC on Friday and a good result would confirm our credentials," he said.

"But regardless of the result we will give everything to win the title, for sure."


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4 min read
Published 1 February 2016 at 3:37pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS