After Adelaide United’s FFA Cup dominance ended during the week at the hands of Melbourne Victory, the two fierce rivals encounter again on Saturday night, only this time in the Isuzu UTE A-League.
The Reds suffered its first loss in the cup competition since the 2017 final on Wednesday following a 2-1 Quarter Final setback.
They will be out to avenge that result and string consecutive wins together for the maiden time this league campaign.
United thrashed Wellington Phoenix 4-0 last weekend, and trying to build on that performance will be crucial.
Tony Popovic’s side also beat Adelaide 2-1 in the league last month, however Adelaide’s visit to AAMI Park against Victory last year in May yielded three points and its first win at the venue since February 2016. Moreover, the Reds have won their previous two away games against the Victorians.
Remarkably, there has also not been a draw in this fixture since October 2017, some 14 matches ago.
With Carl Veart still recovering after contracting COVID-19, Ross Aloisi remains as interim Head Coach for the clash.
Michael Jakobsen and Yaya Dukuly join the absentee list due to testing positive to COVID-19 and are unavailable. After being rested for the cup clash, Isaías returns to the squad, while Joe Gauci is back after clearing COVID-19 protocols.
What the experts say
Simon Hill: One step forward, one step back for the Reds – a win over Wellington followed by Cup defeat to Victory. It’s tricky to get a handle on their form. Victory have been more consistent, and are clearly on the up under Tony Popovic.
Niav Owens: Two meetings between these sides in four days – what’s not to love!? This season, it feels like Victory has this incredible way of taking a game away from you in the last 20 minutes. Tony Popovic’s side will be looking to turn the screws and make it three from three (across all comps) against the Reds this season. But Adelaide delivered on the potential they’ve been showing all season, with that cracking win over the Nix on New Year’s Day. This is a great opportunity to build some momentum in the A-Leagues, with a win on the road in the Original Rivalry.
One to watch
Simon Hill: Unless the Reds sign an interim replacement, then young goalkeeper, Steven Hall, will face the biggest test of his short career – and he’ll get plenty of “encouragement” from Victory fans!
Niav Owens: Bernardo is a super exciting prospect! It will be great to see Bernardo get his opportunity to play more minutes and grow into his game. And we saw in the second half against the Nix just how dangerous he can be!
Simon Hill: How do Adelaide’s central defenders handle Francesco Margiotta, who is capable of finding space away from his markers, and is really starting to come into form.
Niav Owens: With first choice keeper James Delianov working hard to make a quick recovery from that shoulder injury, the battle between the sticks could be an intriguing one. Ivan Kelava is an experienced keeper – he notched up more than 100 caps for Dinamo Zagreb, before joining the Victory this season. Steven Hall is at the other end of his career – will he get a chance to make his A-Leagues starting debut for the Reds? He’s now the youngest goalkeeper in A-League Men’s history and another clean sheet this week would be super handy against the ladder leaders!
One change you’d like to see
Simon Hill: Not a change as such, but with Ben Halloran now departed, I’d like to see Bernardo given an extended run – the kid has talent.
Niav Owens: I’d love to see Craig Goodwin continue his goal-scoring start to 2022! With Yengi injured and Halloran out, Goodwin needs to show his class and really own that reconfigured forward line.
Last five meetings
1-2 loss (H)
0-1 win (A)
1-3 win (A)
1-0 win (H)
2-1 loss (A)
Simon Hill: I think this is a tough game for the Reds. Best case scenario is a draw, but I think Victory have to be strong favourites.
Niav Owens: Last season Adelaide had the wood over the struggling Victory, winning all three of their encounters. But they’ll need to convert their opportunities and not run out of legs late, if they are to bring home the three points from AAMI Park. Poppa’s side is playing with heaps of confidence – I think they’ll get the job done at home. 2-1 Victory.
Saturday, 8 January vs Melbourne Victory
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 09
Kick-off 7.15pm ACDT
Venue: AAMI Park
Broadcast: Network 10