It’ll be a case of ‘the match before the match’ when City host Adelaide this Sunday afternoon, just three days before we cross the border to play them again in the FFA Cup Final on Wednesday.
Adelaide were unfortunate not to scrape a draw against reigning-premiers Sydney FC when they hosted them in the opening fixture of the new season, going down 3-2 thanks to an 87th minute Ryan McGowan header.
City earned a respectable point against Victory in our opening round snoozefest on Saturday night – the perfect advertisement for the Derby to never be fixtured in Round 1 again.
There’s a lot hanging over this upcoming league fixture when considered in the context of the Cup final which will be played just days later, leading us into the three storylines we’ll be looking at ahead of Sunday night:
Lots and lots of cotton wool
We discussed it on Thursday night’s pod; there are some players who we really, REALLY need to wrap up in an abundance of cotton wool.
Craig Noone is one of them. With the Englishman touted as a potential Johnny Warren medallist, the need to have him fit and firing for the Cup final next Wednesday cannot be understated.
On another note, Jamie Maclaren is available for selection having returned from international duties, but should he really play? Getting some league minutes under his belt might be important ahead of the Final, but should the club really risk their star striker in an early-season league game?
Scott Jamieson and Josh Brillante also fall under similar brackets, despite their importance to the team. Might they be better off on the bench for Sunday night so that they’re ready to go for Wednesday? It all makes for quite the dilemma for gaffer Erick Mombaerts.
If you haven’t already, go listen to the latest podcast ‘Don’t Take My Seat’ to hear the panel’s thoughts on the issue and their selections.
Cards up the sleeve
It’s difficult to predict how this weekend’s clash will play out exactly, but one thing’s for sure; next Wednesday’s Final will be playing on the minds of either manager when they’re barking instructions from their respective technical areas on Sunday afternoon.
Even regardless of the potential personnel changes, it’s very likely that the gaffers will set their teams up to execute a slightly different style of play than the one they’ll bring in the Final. It could even be the case that we see another cagey clash like last Saturday’s Derby, where neither team wants to lose, so much so they’re not really concerned about the win either.
We won’t pretend to know exactly how the impending Cup final will affect the match. We’re just saying that it will.
‘Familiar Faces: An Adelaide-City Story’
At this stage, the amount of players who’ve played for both Adelaide and Heart/City has become a bit of an A-League meme. It’s nearly our equivalent of Southampton selling their best player to Liverpool every year.
With Adelaide fullback Ryan Strain earning a straight red against Sydney in the season’s opening fixture, it’ll likely be none other than former-Heart man Michael Marrone who’ll take his place. Marrone sits at 10th on the club’s all-time appearances list with 70, having played for the club between 2010-11 and 2012-13.
Sunday afternoon will also mark Riley McGree’s return to AAMI Park to face his former side, having scored 7 goals in 27 appearances for us last season.
Former-skipper Michael Jakobsen is also likely to start.
Keep your eyes peeled in the days leading up to the Final for more on this Adelaide-City connection…