Thursday, September 13, 2007

A weekend to forget

A-League Round 3 analysis

QR 0 v CCM 1
MV 1 v AU 1
WP 0 v NJ 1
PG 0 v SFC 0

TAKE at least 20 percent of your best players (internationals, young and old, and injuries to a couple of key off-season recruits) out of any competition and what are you left with?

A pretty average weekend of football, it has to be said.

Only four goals, all of them from the set pieces, confirmed that, in a competition limited by salary cap restrictions, it is hard to live without your best players, young or old.

There was a fair bit of discussion earlier in the week about whether round 3 should have gone ahead, but the truth of the matter is that these things should be discussed months ago, not now.

No doubt the postponement of the Argentina game threw a spanner in the works, one that mightn’t have around when the A-League draw was finalised, but the FFA need to stay on their toes.

In any case, it all conspired to produce not one single goal from open play. While that is a sad trend of the modern game, there’s little doubt that some excellent goalkeeping played a major role.

Matt’s Nash and Trott, of Sydney and the Mariners respectively, both had accomplished debuts, Nash impressive in commanding his area on Sunday in Perth, while Trott produced one spectacular save to his left to keep out the frustrated (many might say frustrating) Reinaldo, who worked the house down but couldn’t bulge the net.

Not that the Roar’s frustrations in front of goal are entirely of the Brazilian striker’s making. At least he provided a presence and didn’t stop working, but he is desperately in need of a partner who can stick the ball in the back of the net, for Simon Lynch and Ante Milicic continue to be the Roar’s invisible men.

Meanwhile, Marchino shows no signs of relaxing. He went on one sublime run from the right, gliding past Tony Vidmar and Damien Brown, only to shoot wide when confronted by Trott. Frustration all round, as Danny Tiatto so eloquently summed up in his post match chat with Nick Meredith.

At least the Roar can take something from the fact they dominated the competition pace-setters, and while Sasho Petrovski had an excellent game up front, the Mariners seemed content to play the smash and grab spoilers. It was that kind of weekend and it’s turning into that kind of a season.

Indeed, following on from the theme of my round 2 wrap, the lack of polish in the final third was again the most obvious trait about round 3.

The Roar were the most frustrating, but equally as frustrated will be Ricki Herbert, whose Wellington carved out a number of good openings in first period, only to be denied by the outstanding Ante Covic.

While it’s tempting to feel for a Wellington that dominated the game and got nothing out of it, the decision to go with only one up front was a mistake in my view. Herbert is to be applauded for drafting in Felipe, who was awesome in the first period, but to do it at the expense of a striker (Vaughan Coveny) was a negative move and Herbert was punished.

The Jets continue to be a shadow of the attacking side they were last season, but, like any good manager, Gary van Egmond has realised this and is making sure the defence remains solid. While there were holes in the first half, a second clean sheet will at least ensure there’s a foundation.

Ron Smith will be trying to adopt the same positive outlook after his side kept a third straight clean sheet in the dour spectacle against Sydney, but patience appears to be running out at the other end.

On 2ky’s Football Fever on Sunday night, Dave Mitchell made no secret of the plans for round four - Jamie Harnwell would come in up front alongside Mate Dragicevic and Perth would be more direct. Mitchell went on to add that Perth had played some pretty football so far this season but that the goals hadn’t followed, so a more direct style might lead to results.

Meanwhile, Sydney appear no closer to sorting out their lack of final third bite. Scrapping at the bit to put out an 11, Branko Culina had no choice but to go with two up front, so David Zdrilic partnered Patrick, and the former Socceroo was wasteful once again. After a neat debut in round 2, Patrick appeared frustrated in Perth and made a poor tackle on Nick Rizzo.

Thank goodness then for the second half of the grand final replay on Friday night, which at least had a bit of cut and thrust about it. While the first period was rather lifeless and typical of the hit-and-miss nature of the season so far, things certainly picked up in the second, both teams at least having a go. Kevin Muscat was in amongst most of it. After a number of physical duels with Paul Agostino, he put his body through Cassio and then went on to make the most ridiculous statement about Nathan Burns, a clear sign the youngster has got up his and Craig Moore’s skin.

Talk about going into bat for a mate and bringing the game into disrepute.

TRBA team of the week (4-3-2-1)

Goalkeeper; Ante Covic (NJ)
Defenders; Hyuk-Su Seo (QR), Rody Vargas (MV), Tony Vidmar (CCM), Matt Thompson (NJ)
Midfielders; Adrian Caceres (MV), Danny Tiatto (QR), Nick Rizzo (PG)
Attacking central midfielders; Felipe (WP), Nathan Burns (AU)
Striker; Sasho Petrovski (CCM)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Muscat does generate alot of interest in the A-league due to his controversial comments (which im sure is what he intends), but his comments about Burns is just ridiculous as you stated.

I for one hope Tiatto gets a chance to deliver a cheap shop on Muscat, like Muscat has done to so many others players.

Fri. Sep. 14, 01:10:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

I reckon his comments were bordering on those of a bully, which is pretty much how he's conducted himself since he's been back in Oz...problem is he's largely been allowed to get away with it.

Last week, for example, he was looking to kick the s*** out of anyone that went near hinm, yet he was allowed to get away with it...

Name me one other player that would have been allowed to play with a cast.

Fri. Sep. 14, 01:42:00 pm AEST  
Blogger john said...

Interesting that there are now former Roar version 1 players in Wellington (Dodd) and Perth (the Simpson brothers). The less said the better of Scott Higgins acting as the Adelaide no2 goalie.

By the way I have never seen Tiatto do a cheap shot and I tried to watch as many of his Leicester games last season as I could.

Fri. Sep. 14, 09:27:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheap shot...or a tackle such as that on alagich or the step on djite's head in teh first round...

any is good enough for me

Sat. Sep. 15, 02:39:00 am AEST  
Anonymous Chris said...

that week watching was like pulling teeth.

Sun. Sep. 23, 12:19:00 am AEST  

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