Josep Gombau hopes Adelaide United’s exhibition match against Premier League giants Liverpool will lead to more fans supporting his team in Hyundai A-League action.
South Australia’s Reds, the Westfield FFA Cup holders, take on their English counterparts at what is set to be a packed Adelaide Oval on Monday night.
Suncorp Stadium was close to capacity for Brisbane Roar’s 2-1 defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ men on Friday, while the historic Merseyside outfit also drew a huge crowd to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory in 2013.
The majority of fans at both of those venues appeared to be supporting the visitors from the UK ahead of their local club and that’s likely to be the case again for the next match of the tour.
Spanish giants Real Madrid meanwhile drew over than 10,000 people to an open training session at the MCG last week, more than attend many regular season A-League fixtures.
It’s undeniable evidence that Europe’s heavyweight clubs, despite increasing the regularity of their visits Down Under in recent years, remain a novelty and a bigger drawcard, at least for some, than the local game.
Nevertheless, Gombau believes a good performance from his players against the likes of James Milner and Adam Lallana could boost the numbers coming to Coopers Stadium in 2015-16.
“We have this responsibility, we need to … try and play strong, try to do a good game for the people that come to see this come of game,” he told Goal Australia.
“Hopefully if they like (it) they will come back to the stadium to us playing in the A-League.”
Although fitness remains the primary focus for both Liverpool and Adelaide this early in pre-season, Gombau knows such an historic occasion merits a special effort from the hosts.
“We need to find a balance between physical (preparations) in pre-season but also try to … be competitive in front of our fans,” he said.
“It’s a friendly game, yes, but in the history of football in Adelaide, there will never have been more people in a stadium for a football game, our football.”
Adelaide tuned up for the Liverpool clash with a 2-0 loss to Manchester City on the Gold Coast last week.
Opposition manager Manuel Pellegrini made a series of substitutions throughout the contest at Cbus Super Stadium where, despite their disjointed line-up, the likes of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany proved too good for Gombau’s men.
“We did well,” he said.
“We played good football. We have a squad with some quality players. It was an equal game. I am satisfied with the way the team played. It was a good test to prepare for the big game that is coming on Monday.”
And while they came out on the losing side in Queensland, Gombau is backing his troops to spring a surprise and send Adelaide’s fans home with a smile on their faces.
“The English Premier League is one of the strongest leagues in the world. It’s football. Everybody can beat everybody. A lot of times the team that is smaller can beat the bigger team. This is our challenge. We need to enjoy, because you never know when you will play again against one of these big teams. For sure we will have a chance.”