The odds are stacked against Adelaide United when they travel to face league leaders Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.
Adelaide have suffered a dip in form over the last month and come into the clash experiencing back-to-back defeats against Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers to sit in fifth place.
As for the Sky Blues, they are flying at the top of the table and are currently nine points clear from second spot – unbeaten in their previous eight matches.
Reds Head Coach, Gertjan Verbeek, was well aware of the challenge his side face and used the pair’s Round 1 encounter – a 3-2 loss with 10 men – as an indication they can match it with the very best teams.
“It’s a challenge, they’ve a lot of points so they’re a good team,” Verbeek told reporters at Adelaide Airport.
“I think in the first game we played against them they’ve improved, I still believe we played a good game at that time.
“We were a little bit unlucky, we conceded from a set-piece with 10 men, so tomorrow I hope we play with 11 against 11 for the whole game and we’ll see what the result is.”
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) January 2, 2020
Although United were competitive in that contest, they remain winless in their past 10 Hyundai A-League games against the Harbour City outfit, something no doubt the South Australians will hope to change.
The Reds will also be without young gun Al Hassan Toure, who is away on international duty with the Olyroos for this month’s AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand.
However, in some positive news, Verbeek confirmed Riley McGree and Kristian Opseth have both made the travelling squad after overcoming respective injuries.
The Dutchman revealed George Blackwood will start as the striker after admitting the Norwegian is not fully fit to begin proceedings from the outset, but could be a valuable asset off the bench.
“It’s a little bit of a pity because Kristian Opseth is not 100% fit, he trained this week for the first time with the group,”
“So he travels with us but it’s too early to start so we’ll push George into the front position.”
Adelaide United face Sydney FC in Round 13 of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season on Saturday, 4 January at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.00pm ACDT. Live and Exclusive on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and the My Football Live App.