Hard-nosed Adelaide United defender Iacopo La Rocca believes the Reds have the know-how to blunt “special” Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli in Friday night’s Hyundai A-League Semi Final.
After ending Perth Glory’s season with a couple of top-drawer goals, Fornaroli looms as the biggest stumbling block in Adelaide’s quest to make their first grand final in seven years.
The Uruguayan was rarely sighted when the two sides met a Melbourne a fortnight ago, thanks largely to La Rocca and central defensive partner Dylan McGowan’s excellent defensive cover.
While wary of a response from the 25-goal Hyundai A-League golden-boot, La Rocca feels the Reds’ game-plan can stifle him again.
“Bruno is a quality player. You have to be in the game for 90 minutes and more,” the Italian hardman told reporters on Thursday.
“Last game he didn’t do much but from nothing he can create something.
“And not just him, Aaron Mooy as well but last game we did a good job, all the defensive line, all the midfielders and we were compact. Starting from [striker] Bruce [Djite] to Euge [Goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic].
“[Fornaroli] he’s a smart striker, strong, you’ve seen the last two goals he scored in the [Elimination] Final was unbelievable. He can do something special.
“We know if I make a mistake, Dylan can cover me, or Craig is behind me. We have to stick together and try to stop him like we did the last game.”
Adelaide and City are developing a tasty little rivalry, one which reached a flashpoint in their most recent meeting in a fiery melee as the sides brawled as they went into the sheds.
There are also several players that have featured for both clubs.
Adelaide quartet Stefan Mauk, Craig Goodwin, Mate Dugandzic and Michael Marrone have all previously called City home, while Osama Malik and Jacob Melling both played for United, while Marc Marino and Ben Garuccio are from South Australia.
City has also won in both clashes in the City of Churches this season.
It all adds to watch should be a humdinger of a contest with so much at stake, but Reds boss Gui Amor played down the notion of any stagefright from his side.
“Any nerves? This is football. This is soccer. It’s a game. It’s for joy,” the Spanish great said.
“It’s a big game for us, but this is football, it’s a game, it’s for us to enjoy. If you suffer [in football] you stay at home. When you play, you come here to enjoy the game but to win. The pressure tomorrow is normal.”
In the Reds’ favour is a sell-out crowd, with Coopers Stadium set to be rocking with the prospect of seeing their side more through to – and host – next weekend’s decider.
“For us this is a vitamin, a very good vitamin,” Amor said of the home support.
“It’s our moment. We want to stay here to the last day. This is our job. And tomorrow is our day.”