It’s the big one. City are set to take on Adelaide United in the 2019 FFA Cup Final this Wednesday, a huge chance to take home our second piece of silverware in club history.
Adelaide have made a slow start to their league season, losing their first two games against Sydney and City. The Reds enjoyed a relatively easy run to the Final though, knocking off Melbourne Knights in the Round of 16 before narrow, unconvincing wins against Olympic FC, Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners.
Our City boys have put in fairly strong showings to come away with four points after their opening two league fixtures against Victory and Adelaide, whilst our own Cup run included wins over Campbelltown, Marconi Stallions, Western Sydney and Brisbane Strikers.
Adelaide are known as the cup specialists, but they’re hardly looking special right now, and could be primed for the taking. Here are the three points we’re looking at ahead of Wednesday’s FFA Cup Final:
Press, press, press
When Jamie Maclaren scored his second goal just four minutes after the first, the game seemed entirely in City’s hands. It was the second time in two weeks that Adelaide had conceded rapid goals, but it was also the second time that they’d fought their way back into the match despite being 2-0 down.
The game was turned on its head in the second half when City players were less comitted to the high-press, unsure of whether to preserve the lead or search for a third, Erick Mombaerts explained.
"Maybe sometimes we protected the result too much. I know that it's not easy when you win 2-0 [to decide whether we] can continue to attack or not,” the Frenchman said in his post-match press conference.
"Maybe in the mind of our players, 2-0 is enough. And we were in between high press or not, high press or not. We are better when we high press, we know this. We have to make bigger effort on the high press.”
Big outs for Adelaide
Adelaide have been hit hard by injuries in recent weeks. Jordan Elsey’s a definite out having failed to recover from a knee issue. George Blackwood (hip), Mirko Boland (hamstring) and Ben Halloran (illness) are all sweating on their availability for Wednesday night, whilst defender Yared Abetew will also miss with an ankle injury, though his absence will be covered by the return of regular right-back Ryan Strain from suspension.
Quite frankly, Adelaide have been unimpressive throughout the Cup, barely scraping through their last three knockout games. Throw two league losses and a bunch of injuries into the mix and you’ve got an Adelaide that’s low on confidence and low on reinforcements, whilst City have a full-strength squad and are undefeated in competitive fixtures in 2019/20.
We reckon it’s a nice little equation that we’ve got going on here.
A matter of identity
A second FFA Cup trophy is imperative to further defining the identity and history of the club, and especially for enticing fans back to the stands of AAMI Park who may have been lost during the past two seasons of Joyceball.
Whilst on-field success isn’t the only way to build the character and profile of a club, it’s something that has been expected of City ever since the transition from Heart in 2014. Whilst we are by no means entitled to success because of our ownership, it’s time that the potential which has been exhibited for years but never fully capitalised on finally becomes the end product.
If we want long-term, identity-defining change, it has to start with this Wednesday night, and returning back to Melbourne with the Cup.
Melbourne City are set to face Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium in the FFA Cup Final on Wednesday, October 23.