Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 22

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into Round 22.
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How good were the Socceroos!

Such an entertaining brand of football over the two friendlies. The side reminded me a little of Adelaide United. So many fresh, exciting faces with plenty of energy. Graham Arnold deserves all the credit for giving this new generation a crack, and they haven’t let him down. Although they couldn’t get the two wins, they more than put on a show on their homecoming.

Craig Goodwin was exceptional across both games, and while he did come off during the second half in both meetings with Ecuador, he would have spent some petrol tickets. That said, I’ve got absolutely no doubt he’ll be fine for Friday night’s game against the Wanderers. Just look at what he was able to produce at the World Cup, playing every few days. He’ll fly straight to Sydney from Melbourne, getting there ahead of the rest of the team to get some extra rest and recovery.

A huge congratulations to Joe Gauci as well. I’m sure it’s the first of many Socceroos caps, and he’s earned his opportunity with his performances over the past few seasons. As far as debuts go for your country, I don’t think you could ask for much more. He made a two massive first half saves and couldn’t do much about the two goals. God, I would have loved for him to save that penalty; could you imagine? I’m sure he’d be thinking the same. I’m sure he’d be disappointed with the result, but celebrate your achievement, be proud, and take what you’ve learned into Friday and the rest of the A-League season.

How good was it to see so many Adelaide-born players in the starting XI for the match on Tuesday? A record of four starters, add to that Ryan Strain, Thomas Deng, Awer Mabil, and Nestory Irankunda, who’ve all had heavy links to South Australia at one time or another. There’s every chance we see most of them in or around the national team for a long time to come, especially with plenty of football ahead for most of them.

Attention must now turn to Friday night’s game against the Wanderers in Sydney. While anything is still possible, with five games remaining, you’d think a win for Adelaide would make them almost unbeatable to claim second place.

This could be the most important game of the season for both sides. If Adelaide can go six-points clear in second with four games remaining, three of which are at home, I’d be happy to put my neck on the line and say second is secure.

It’s no easy game, and while you could say Brandon Borrello might be fatigued after playing a large part on Tuesday night, you could also argue he’s never been more confident.

As a player, when you’re at the top of your game and you feel untouchable, you don’t get tired. You want to play every minute of every game, and Borrello will be absolutely no different. If Adelaide’s defence thinks they’ll be getting a lesser version of the Wanderers’ best attacking player this season, think again. He’ll be ready, and the Reds’ defence better be too.

Away from home, I think United will be happy for Western Sydney to make them play and try to make it a transition game. Adelaide have been sensational with space in front of them this season, and with the number of goals they’ve been banging in, they won’t need too many looks at the Wanderers goal to make them pay.

Friday’s hosts have changed the way they play during the season. Early in the campaign, they were happy to let the opposition have the ball; defensively, this paid dividends, but they struggled to find the back of the net. They have switched that up as the season has gone on, and with some added additions during the January window, they are more than comfortable controlling the game with the ball now. They look much more of a threat in the front third, and while they still look solid at the back, they did let in four against the Reds the last time they played.

Both teams’ confidence will be sky high, as it should be. Both will believe they can win and won’t be fearful of the other. Western Sydney come in on the back of dismantling Sydney FC in the derby, but that was two weeks ago. Has that buzz worn off?

The Reds are on their third longest unbeaten run ever, make it one more game and give yourself some breathing room

It’s about to heat up!

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