top of page

Talking points preview: Adelaide vs City

The 2022/23 title is inching closer and closer each week as a massive battle looms for your Melbourne City boys this Friday as we travel to take on a resolute Adelaide United.

Rado Vidosic's side are fresh off a 3-2 win over Sydney FC that increased our lead at the top of the table, but plenty of questions still remain heading into this Friday's clash.

With Marco Tilio shining on the right wing, there are questions about what to do on the left with superstar Mathew Leckie out injured. We'll also be hoping to put a bad run in hostile territory behind us and display the distance between our boys in blue and the rest of the league.

Here are the major talking points heading into it:

A 3-3 draw last time out | Photo: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

What (N)a(b)bout Me

Johnny Warren medal favourite Mathew Leckie had been playing out of his skin for the team over the past few months; he was dominating when we were playing well and carrying the team on his shoulders when we were doing poorly. It was absolutely devastating when our matchday squad was announced for last Saturday's clash with Sydney FC and the news emerged that Lecks had suffered a hamstring strain during training, and would likely be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.

Supplanting the feeling of disappointment was a feeling of confusion as Andrew Nabbout - the obvious candidate to replace Leckie - was named on the bench, and four midfielders were named in the starting eleven. As the match began, it became clear that Florin Berenguer had taken up the position on the left wing, a sight unwelcome to any City fan who had endured the Warren Joyce era. Thankfully the skillful Frenchman put in a shift that in no way resembled those days of old, creating several chances, nabbing an assist, and opening up acres of space for the overlapping Jordy Bos.

Andrew Nabbout, however, must've been as shocked as we were when Vidosic handed him the news.

He'd walk into any team's starting 11, but will Nabbout get a chance in ours? - Photo: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

A like-for-like swap, he would've been the obvious choice to take Leckie's place on the opposite wing from Tilio. Even Raphael Borges Rodrigues would've been less surprising if he wasn't currently away with the Australian U20s team.

Flo is not a runner, he never has been, and we saw several times in last week's game that he lacks the ability to track back and defend when needed - which is very often considering Bos is constantly overlapping and working his way into dangerous areas. While Nabbout can't match Berenguer's creativity and silky touch, he makes up for it with his speed, directness, and willingness to shoot. He also doesn't mind sprinting back and laying a big tackle... or simply running through a player when required.

Both players have their strengths and weaknesses, and it'll be intriguing to see who Vidosic decides to start for the remainder of Leckie's injury.

(Un)Happy hunting

It goes without saying that Coopers Stadium is not a happy hunting ground for Melbourne City; the last time we took all three points was in December 2018. However, our last three visits have resulted in draws, so perhaps this is the time we finally buck the trend.

It wasn't so long ago we saw a chaotic 3-3 draw play out between the two teams at AAMI Park. That game against the Reds came earlier in Rado's tenure, and the two points were dropped through unfortunate errors that our manager will be hoping to have ironed out of our game by now.

We've been unflinching in the face of opposition - Photo: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

It certainly doesn't help our case that the South Australians are playing a particularly shrewd brand of football under Carl Veart. They've become exactly the kind of team we don't want to play against: happy to let us have the ball and pounce on any errors we might make with their impressive forwards sure to capitalise on any slip-ups. We'll have to be precise in our passing and clinical in our finishing to walk away victorious from this one.

Then again, playing away to Perth was never a good time, until three games ago when we managed to successfully storm the fortress of Macedonia Park.

Maybe this squad is different, maybe we're just too damn good to fall into old habits.

Thinning out the herd

A strong mentality will be crucial for the team - Photo: Andrew Wiseman (@wisemansports)

This Friday's game is a big deal for another reason too. Adelaide are currently in fourth position, on equal points with third-place Western Sydney Wanderers and second-place Central Coast Mariners.

Much was made last season of our inability to defeat highly-placed opposition, and so far this season we've only managed to beat the Mariners (at home) and eke out draws against the Wanderers (away) and Adelaide (home).

I'm sure that you've all been eagerly refreshing fellow Talking City writer Josh Gribling's brilliant article - as I have - after every game to see how many points we need to win the Premiers' Plate. In which case, you don't need me to tell you that a win in these tough circumstances would almost certainly take Adelaide out of the contest.

We play each of the chasing pack once between now and the end of the season. That's three big chances to put this title race to bed, as well as to silence any critics who don't believe we have what it takes when a tough opponent stands in our way.


Score prediction: 3-4 to our City boys

90 views0 comments
bottom of page