Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A-League team of the week, round five

ROUND five failed to produce the highest quality football we’ve seen in the A-League, with disappointing fixtures to start and finish the round. Certainly, the Roar-Adelaide game was the pick of the lot, especially the home sides’ performance, but even that failed to produce a goal. Indeed, only six goals were scored, equal lowest return with round one, in part due to the brilliant work of Robert Bajic and Danny Vukovic. Choosing between the two was the hardest part of picking this week’s team of the round, as was the choice of who to play up front. With left-sided players dominating the weekend’s action, there’s been a degree of re-jigging to come up with this 3-5-2 formation;

Danny Vukovic, CCM, keeper; hard to leave out Rob Bajic, who was outstanding in keeping out the Roar at Suncorp, but Vukovic produced brilliant save after save to deny the Jets. Was eventually beaten at his near post by a quick-thinking Joel Griffiths, but in the context of the Mariners season, his saves were crucial. Needs to continue barking at his defence to get out as the Mariners are defending far too deep for their own good, perhaps a sign of their lack of confidence in covering the ground.

Sasa Ognenovski, QR, right stopper; not surprisingly, the former Melbourne Knight continues to impress at A-League level with his tight and physical approach a nuisance to opposition strikers. On Friday night he frustrated Fernando Rech, a stand-out the past two weeks, into submission, forcing him to be replaced at the break. Didn’t let up in the second, helping frustrate Shengqing Qu.

Rodrigo Vargas, MV, central defender; like Ognenovski, no surprise to find him doing so well in the A-League as he was consistently one of the best defenders in the NSL. Has added some real composure at the back for Melbourne and was again solid against Perth in dealing with Stuart Young.

Andrew Packer, QR, left back; switched to the left wing-back role by Miron Bleiberg for this match, Packer was constantly in the Adelaide half, keeping both Travis Dodd and Greg Owens busy. At times he could have better utilised the space, but, with Josh McCloughan providing cover behind him, Packer was free to press on and pin back United, one of his best attacking games in some time.

Adrian Caceres, MV, right midfield; only on as a left sided replacement for Alessandro in the first half, but what an impact he made against his former club, scoring the first with a delightful first time swivel and shot, and then launching the counter-attack that resulted in Muscat’s penalty. It appeared he was brought on to provide help to Daniel Piorkowski in dealing with Leo Bertos and he was instantly back helping double-up and shut Bertos out of the game. Not content with that, he did some typically neat things on the ball. An excellent technician, his performance makes it hard for Merrick to leave him out against the Roar. Because he wandered all over the place, gets the gig on the right side of a five man midfield.

Massimo Murdocca, QR, central midfield; back in the starting line-up after sitting out the past couple, he was pivotal in helping the Roar control the game and Adelaide’s central midfield of Ross Aloisi and Carl Veart, who were never allowed a moment to breath with Murdocca and the other half of the pocket-rocket duo, Matt McKay, snapping at their heels. Murdocca also highlighted in this match how comfortable he is on the ball.

Kevin Muscat, MV, central midfield; while this wasn’t his most dominate performance of the season, particularly in the first half, his second was much better, finally getting on top of Simon Colosimo and creating the first and converting the second. Great to see the player we knew as a tough tackling right-back playing with such poise and thought in this crucial area of the pitch.

Matt McKay, QR, central midfield; gets in the team for the second week running, this time in the central role he filled alongside Murdocca and Marcus Wedau. Last week he played wide left, but this week he moved effortlessly back inside, driving from midfield and getting on the end of a couple of crosses. Magnificent workrate, played a key role in pressing Adelaide high up the pitch.

Stewart Petrie, CCM, left midfield; last season’s top scorer, it has been a difficult start to the campaign for the Scot, criticised by his own fans of carrying too much weight and failing to pack a threat in front of goal. Lawrie McKinna’s solution was to throw him at left midfield and what a sterling job he did there against Newcastle. Responsible for the cross that led to the Mariners’ first of the campaign, he teamed up well with Tony Vidmar to outplay the likes of Jade North, especially in the first half.

Joel Griffiths, NU, striker; while he played as a left midfielder for the second week straight, his tireless up and down performance on the flank gets him the gig as a striker in this team. Scored a delightful equaliser when he drove into the box off the ball and toe-poked past Vukovic and involved in the pivotal moment of the game when he should have had a penalty but was instead red-carded for ‘simulation’. Unlucky to miss the next two weeks.

Reinaldo, QR, striker; only on for just over an hour, but in the first half was a particular menace to the Adelaide defence, driving with pace both on an off the ball. Involved in one of the most contentious moments of the match when he appeared to be pulled down just outside the box by Robert Cornthwaite as he zoned in on Bajic’s goal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see so many Roar players in your team. They are attack, attack attack.

One note, Rech came off with a neck injury after he fell over the top of Sasa.

Wed. Sep. 27, 10:29:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Hamish said...

Tony, firstly, can I say that you provide a better, more articulate and knowing analysis of the A-League than any media, mainstream or otherwise, at least that I am aware of. Now that I know you're there, I will be regularly reading your blog with interest and care.

Now I didn't see the CCM vs Newcastle game so must bow to your opinion on the goalkeeper of the week, but you did at least mention Bajic in despatches as I suggested. I did see that game (Roar vs Adelaide) live and Bajic was brilliant, and seemed to get moreso as the pressure increased. From what you describe it was a tough contest indeed.

Now I'm a little in awe of your apparently detailed knowledge of the players and their history, and can only offer far more general impressions of things. With this limitation firmly in mind there seems something discordant about the inclusion of three Melbourne players in this week's list, and no Perth players. The reason I say this is that although I think the result of the MV vs Perth game was about right, Melbourne as a team did not seem to be at their best to me, and indeed Perth kept a brilliant pressure on for the whole game. A draw may have occurred there, with the dice rolling just a little differently.

As I say, this is a less informed view than yours. (My blog is more a description of a very recently begun journey than an 'expert' view), and more impressionistic than anything. Thanks again for your analyses. Excuse me if I add my two cents along the way.

Wed. Sep. 27, 10:30:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Hamish, as commented on your site, thanks for the comments and your ongoing support, both of my stuff and the game in general.

Fair comment re the Victory having three players, it was basically down to the fact I felt they were more incisive in the front third...ie, their attack looked more likely than Perths. Also, there weren't enough players from the other teams putting the pressure on this week. It was a pretty average one overall, and for Melboure to prove they could grind out a result (when they're not exactly playing flowing football) was a good sign. I felt the Victory defence had the likes of Young, Bertos and Sekulovski under control, and much of it was down to Vargas' poise, while Muscat and Caceres were involved in some key 2nd half moments.

While Perth probably shaded the possession overall, worrying for them is a lack of penetration the past two weeks, so it will be interesting to see if they can penetrate the leaky Jets defence this week.

Thu. Sep. 28, 12:06:00 am AEST  

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