A-League Preview: Melbourne City v Adelaide United

A Spanish flavour for sure when David Villa faces some footballing compadres at AAMi as the tiki-taka-infused Reds roll into Melbourne for a football fiesta with a lukewarm City.

Friday, 31 October 2014
Melbourne City FC v Adelaide United
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEDT)
Referee: Chris Beath
TV Broadcast: Live Coverage on SBS ONE from 7.30pm AEDT and FOX SPORTS 1HD & 1 from 7.00pm (AEDT)
Radio Broadcast: 891 ABC Adelaide, ABC Local radio SA, 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local radio Victoria, 936 ABC Hobart and ABC Northern Tasmania, Grandstand Digital, ABC Grandstand Online/ABC Radio phone app.SEN Radio 

Melbourne City FC squad:  1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3.Robbie WIELAERT, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.David VILLA, 11.Damien DUFF, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (C), 27.Ross ARCHIBALD

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 13.Jonatan GERMANO (promoted), 15.David WILLIAMS (returns from injury), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (promoted)

Outs: 25.Jacob MELLING (omitted)

Unavailable: 10.Robert KOREN (calf – 3-5 weeks)

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (c) (GK), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 6.CÁSSIO, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 32.Nathan KOSTANDOPOULOS

***two to be omitted***

Ins: 6.CÁSSIO (promoted), 11.Bruce DJITE (returns from injury) 20.Paul IZZO (GK) (promoted),  24.Bruce KAMAU (promoted),

Outs: 30.John HALL (GK) (omitted), 22.Fabio FERREIRA (hamstring 2-4 weeks)

Unavailable: 14.Cameron WATSON (toe – 2 weeks), 15.Ben WARLAND (ankle – 3 weeks), 22.Fabio FERREIRA (hamstring 2-4 weeks), 23.Jordan ELSEY (wrist –  3 weeks)

It's hardly make or break time yet for Melbourne City, but a defeat on Friday will leave the new-look club with just two points from a possible 12 to start this Hyundai A-League season.

A draw wouldn't be the worst result for the hosts, who face an Adelaide United side flying high after a strong start to their campaign.

Josep Gombau by comparison is unlikely to want to settle for a share of the spoils after watching his polished team pick apart Perth Glory with clinical precision last Sunday. 

Time for City's players to stand up and be counted or the scrutiny will only increase following David Villa's departure to New York next week.

Marcelo Carrusca gets the headlines pulling the strings behind the Adelaide front line, but it all starts with Isaias. Those two had the equal most touches (77 each) of the Reds' midfielders in the 2-0 win over Perth Glory last time out. 

It was Isaias though who played the most passes (60) with 85 percent accuracy, a statistic which becomes even more impressive when you consider that 18.3 percent of those were long passes (also the most of any Adelaide midfield), demonstrating the former Espanyol man's ability to release the likes of Sergio Cirio and Pablo Sanchez in behind opposition defences.

While Adelaide are certainly comfortable attempting a patient, probing build-up, the Reds have been at their most dangerous on the counter so far this season.

On Sunday, they opened the scoring through a move started when Tarek Elrich chose to pass back to his goalkeeper from a difficult angle rather than hoof the ball long or out of play. From there Eugene Galekovic picked out Carrusca with an inch-perfect long ball and the number 10 did the rest, his slide-rule pass slipping in Cirio to fire past Danny Vukovic. 

The second goal came from Elrich's explosive forward run and was tucked away with aplomb by substitute Awer Mabil, who could have had a second through a similar fast break.

City, who spent much of the matches against Sydney and Newcastle camped just outside the opposition penalty area, must careful not to be caught on the break.

Iain Ramsay has been press-ganged into service at fullback for Melbourne City this season and the former Adelaide United man has suffered a baptism of fire in the position, getting well and truly shredded by Kosta Barbarouses in that epic Melbourne Derby.

With Fabio Ferreira out injured, it remains to be soon who will line up as his direct opponent this week, although any of Pablo Sanchez, Cirio, Craig Goodwin or Awer Mabil could spend some time down the right, depending how much the Reds rotate at AAMI Park. 

Regardless of who he goes up against, another night of torment for Ramsay and the need to find a permanent solution will become all the more pressing for John van't Schip.

City have begun the season with successive 1-1 draws, away to Sydney FC and at home to Newcastle Jets, trailing in both and needing goals from David Villa to salvage a point. Things took a significant turn for the worse last Saturday, when they gave up the lead twice to suffer a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Melbourne Victory.

It's been plain sailing for Adelaide in comparison. They opened their campaign with a deserved 2-1 win away to champions Brisbane Roar, were unfortunate not to earn all three points in a 1-1 draw at home to Victory before coasting to a 2-0 home win over a Perth Glory team who had previously won both of their opening matches.

Throw in a 3-1 extra-time win over Sydney FC in the FFA Cup quarter-finals and it's tough to find fault with the Reds so far in 2014-15.

Remember Andrea Migliorini's contribution to the Hyundai A-League? The midfielder made nine appearances for the old Melbourne Heart last season, scoring one of the goals of the season in a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Adelaide United. For those wondering, the 26-year-old is now back in his native Italy with fourth-tier regional side Delta Porto Tolle Rovigo.

Result: Melbourne City 1-2 Adelaide United 

There are fascinating match-ups all over the field in this one and the winners of those individuals duels will have a big say on the outcome. Can Tarek Elrich handle David Villa on the right of Adelaide's three-man backline? Will Erik Paartalu shut down Marcelo Carrusca? How will Isaias deal with Aaron Mooy and Massimo Murdocca's aggressive pressing when City are out of possession? 

It's tough to call and van't Schip's men will be desperate to get off the mark, but recent form and the cohesion of Gombau's side point to an away win.

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