Monday, October 29, 2007

A bumper round of entertainment and enterprise

A-League round 10 analysis

AT least one regular TRBA reader, Barca fan Adam, enjoyed the hit and miss format of my weekly wrap last week, so I thought I’d give it another go as we approach the halfway point of the season. Little doubt that after a poor opening third of the season, things have really picked up over the past three weeks. After the 15 goals of round 8, this week there were 18, just one shy of the A-League record set in round 11 of the inaugural season. In the past three rounds the goal average has climbed to above 2 goals a game, so let’s hope the upwards trend continues. But it wasn’t just the quantity of goals that provided entertainment, but rather the quality of the football, with another clinical Gary van Egmond job down in Melbourne, a cracker up in Queensland, the usual goals galore from the potent attacking force that is Adelaide and an eye-catching response from Sydney to all the drama and misadventure of the past week or so. And what’s even better, it was played out in front of over 73,000 fans, the best A-League gate since round 16 last season and the second best yet. Finally, v3 is living up to the billing it will not only be the tightest on record, but the best, so lets all pray that will continue. In the meantime, here are the round 10 hits and misses;

MV 0 v NJ 2

Hits;

  • Gary van Egmond – played Ernie Merrick at his own game, hitting early, sitting back, absorbing and playing on the counter. There’s little doubt Melbourne prefer to be the counter attacker, as they demonstrated at home last week to Perth and two weeks earlier to the Roar, so thumbs up to van Egmond for doing to Melbourne what they’ve been doing to others this season – winning ugly.
  • As the coach said in the post match presser, his players are to be congratulated for the way they carried out van Egmond’s plan. Clearly, they believe in his every word, and, more importantly, understand how to effectively carry out a tactical template.

Misses;

  • Melbourne’s attack – Allsopp was missing in action, there was little width and, after his recent good form, Hernandez had an off night, well looked after by D’Apuzzo and Spencer.
  • Merrick’s decision not to bring Caceres on until the 83rd minute. For all Melbourne’s domination of possession and territory in the second period, they only had one shot on target, and guess who provided it? Caceres, of course.
  • Matthew Breeze’s decision not to award a free-kick to Melbourne in the lead-up to the elbow incident that saw Pantelidis red-carded. Pulling up Joel Griffiths and awarding him a yellow for clearly pulling back Pantelidis would have avoided the flash-point. Melbourne felt they had a couple of other penalty claims against Durante and Breeze may well have missed an incident between Adam Griffiths and Allsopp in the scramble for the opener.
  • The pre-game mystery surrounding Musalik – that’s twice in the past couple of weeks he’s been named in the starting 11 (the other occasion was vs Lebanon for the Olyroos) but hasn’t start. Given the circumstances, Spencer was excellent, but what on earth is the matter with Musalik?

QR 3 v PG 3

Hits;

  • Covered most of it here, but was very impressed by Perth’s first half, particularly the performances of Djulbic, Topor-Stanley, Downey, Colosimo, Danze, Celeski and Harnwell.
  • The performance of Marchino, especially in the first half when the rest of his team went AWOL. Miron Bleiberg made a good point a few weeks back on Total Football that Marchino is not the creative style of playmaker, but rather an attacking midfielder who likes to score, so he must provide goals. Here he provided some good drive, and finally one of his shots hit the target.
  • The second half performance of Seo, who started to demand the ball and make Queensland play. Nicholls wasn’t too bad off the bench either.
  • They copped three goals and have been leaking them of late, but both Coyne and Djulbic were good, especially the latter. Quick over the ground, Djulbic looks very relaxed on the ball. Coyne makes mistakes, but rarely drops his heads.
  • Bertos’s performance off the bench was his best this season.
  • Farina’s second half introduction of a second striker (Lynch) for a defender (Griffin) provided Queensland with just the right numbers in attack at a time they were getting on top.
Misses;

  • They’ve been brilliant so far, but both Zullo and Kruse had a quiet night, despite Kruse’s good feet in setting up the Marchino strike. While most say it’s normal to expect this inconsistency from kids, credit must be given to both Downey and Topor-Stanley, who kept their respective attackers busy by having a go at them.
  • Liam Reddy, if there is any substantiation to the word from Ed Vegas in his comment to this piece, what a tool.
  • Farina’s use of a clearly injured Tiatto, and what’s worse, the fact he stayed on while despite struggling every time he touched the ball.
  • Where’s Murdocca?
  • The Roar back four has been ok of late, but they were all over the shop here.
SFC 3 v CCM 2

Hits;

  • Let’s start with Sydney’s shape – Fyfe playing as a stopper in a back three (that’s his spot), Zadkovich and Middleby (both comfortable getting forward) deployed as wingbacks, Juninho and Corica both lending support to Bridges and Brosque, there just seemed to be a more natural shape about the hosts then we have seen. Milligan makes the back three.
  • Bridges made a wonderful debut, presenting often, holding the ball up well, passing and moving, running off the ball, creating space for others. It certainly helped that the Mariners played high, but his combination with Brosque, Juninho and Corica was excellent, and there just seemed to be this almost telepathic understanding.
  • The crowd and the vibe at the SFS – a good response to the off field drama coupled with a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere, something for the club to build on.
  • There weren’t many winners for the Mariners, but Hutchinson kept trying and got a couple of rewards. Aloisi wasn’t spectacular, but it was an encouraging debut.
  • Alex Brosque continues to score, a player full of confidence, finally fulfilling his promise. His movement has been very good of late, best emphasised by his diagonal drive for the second goal.
  • Juninho’s best game since his shoulder injury, while Popovic finally played a captain’s knock, his ball for the second inch perfect.
Misses;

  • McKinna was spot on afterwards, this was the Mariners worst performance of the season, although the signs have been there of late.
  • Playing high up the pitch, the left themselves vulnerable to Sydney’s pace and movement. Vidmar in particular struggled to deal with Bridges, forcing both Boogard and Jedinak to take turns. So mobile was Bridges, none of them could cope with him, while the attention on him created room for others.
  • Petrovski was in irresistible form in round 1, but this was one of his most ineffective performances in some time – absent.
  • Popovic scored his first Sydney goal from a set piece, but closer inspection shows Vukovic may well have been illegally obstructed by Fyfe. I didn’t hear any Mariners protestations afterwards, but I wonder if it was discussed privately?
AU 4 v WP 1

Hits;

  • Another performance full of drive and purpose from Adelaide, proving they are the most potent team doing the rounds. It featured four different scorers and first A-League goals from Giraldi and Spagnuolo.
  • Adelaide’s work at both the set piece (their first two goals) and the counter attack (their last two) was super impressive. Over the dead ball they had great delivery from the likes of Spagnuolo, Pantelis and Cassio, while their drive on the transition is too much for most teams, let alone the hapless Wellington defence.
  • Cassio and Alagich continue to impress as attacking fullbacks, providing plenty of decent distribution from the flanks.
  • No Salley, no worries. Diego drops back into the holding role proving just how adaptable he is, while Burns comes into the driving role previously occupied by Diego. Gee Vidmar is spoilt for choice.
Misses;

  • That’s four losses on the spin for the Phoenix, but worryingly it’s their first by a margin of more than one.
  • Karl Dodd was dropped. In came Old, but it was the same scenario, gaps aplenty in the heart of the defence. How Herbert could do with an experienced central defender, or maybe even a return to central defence for Cleberson, who impressed there in the second half of round 1.
  • Beltrame limped off with an injury, but he did a couple of sloppy things, including being beaten at his near post for Smeltz’s fifth of the season. His distribution for the Pantelis goal was better.
  • Lia, Aloisi and Felipe (and his red mop) really struggled in central midfield.

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

Goalkeeper; Reddy (QR)

Defence; Alagich (AU), North (NJ), Djulbic (PG), Topor-Stanley (PG)

Midfield; Celeski (PG), Hutchinson (CCM), Marcinho (QR), Juninho (SFC)

Attack; Brosque (SFC), Bridges (SFC)

Updated Tuesday 30 October 2007 to include TRBA team of the week

8 Comments:

Blogger Marty said...

In the Sydney FC/Mariners match, it's true that Fyfe was obstructing Vukovic and stopping him from leaving his line. I think that may have been what Vukovic was shouting about straight after the goal.

But check out Petrovski's "marking" job on Milligan in the leadup to Hutchinson's first goal. You can see them most clearly, on the penalty spot, around the 4:22 minute mark (the slow motion replay)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUFH33oZ1dc

As is often said - it all evens out in the end.

Tue. Oct. 30, 09:22:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous dhd said...

Thanks Tony,

RE NJ vs MV, there were a couple of worrying signs for us Victory supporters, most of which you hint at

1. Getting only 1 shot on target, though Archie Thompson got a good header on from a corner i think

2. Merrick delighted with the way the team played, despite only getting that one shot on. Seriously, is he an idiot or the most egregious spin doctor football has ever seen? Its easy to keep possession if you are one goal down and you keep passing around the rim, what was missing was threat of penetration (no bawdy entendre entended). Its absence was underlined by a couple of good bits of interplay between thompson and hernandez, thompson and love.

3. At the moment Alsopp would make a great sports store manequin, tall, strong and athletic looking. That seems to be where it ends at the moment. It is fair to question the impact of his rivals for a starting spot, but i can't understand why he gets so much game time given his lack of influence. The difference in effectiveness between he and Griffiths in winning a knock down from a 1 on 1 contest was very telling. Maybe if Love was indulged with 90 minutes each week he'd find his touch, Alsopp's has gone missing again.

4. Free Ljubo Milicevic, the A-leagues first political prisoner

Lastly, it is not all bad. This season started with Theoklitos inexplicably hoofing long balls each time he gained possesssion. Which, given the aforementioned failure of Alsopp and colleagues to win possession from that kind of service, was a sure turnover. For the last 3 rounds, he has thrown to a team mate almost every time. That, unfortunately, is the highlight at the moment for me.

Thanks for your efforts Tony, it is great to read your stuff.

PS. Onya also for the call on griffiths fouling of Pantelidis, prior to his stupid elbow. There was 20 m of obvious fouling going on, and the Age photos the following day even show that griffith had hold of his throat! I thought maybe he was trying to play advantage, but given that no yellow card emerged it just seems like another case of amateurish officialdom.

Tue. Oct. 30, 09:22:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

marty, very interesting, gotta admit i didnt see that one....i was concentrating on whether popa (the closest man) could have closed down hutcho quicker...

what i did notice was the amount of holding of aloisi by the syd defenders....i reckon the whole back three had a go, and at times it resembled wrestling...

true enough, it all evens up at the end of the day

Tue. Oct. 30, 09:34:00 am AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

Really enjoying these wraps Tony, many thanks. This was easily the best round of this year's HAL so far...hope it can continue.

Tue. Oct. 30, 10:53:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

dhd, thanks for the comment and kind words....

Re "2. Merrick delighted with the way the team played, despite only getting that one shot on. Seriously, is he an idiot or the most egregious spin doctor football has ever seen? Its easy to keep possession if you are one goal down and you keep passing around the rim, what was missing was threat of penetration (no bawdy entendre entended). Its absence was underlined by a couple of good bits of interplay between thompson and hernandez, thompson and love."

Yes, i caught his comments on the highlights show last night, quite bizarre..

RE; "Lastly, it is not all bad. This season started with Theoklitos inexplicably hoofing long balls each time he gained possesssion. Which, given the aforementioned failure of Alsopp and colleagues to win possession from that kind of service, was a sure turnover. For the last 3 rounds, he has thrown to a team mate almost every time. That, unfortunately, is the highlight at the moment for me."

Good to see you looking on the bright side...

Just in, further bad news;

Football Federation Australia (FFA) Match Review Panel, today handed Melbourne Victory player Steve Pantelidis an additional two match suspension to the mandatory one match suspension he received for being issued a red card for violent conduct (elbow).

Steve Pantelidis received the red card in relation to an incident in the 66th minute of Friday’s (26/10/07) Round 10 Hyundai A-League 2007/08 match between Melbourne Victory and the Newcastle Jets at The Telstra Dome, Melbourne.

Steve Pantelidis will miss Melbourne Victory's Round 11,12 & 13 Hyundai A-League fixtures against the Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC and Queensland Roar. Steve Pantelidis will be eligible for selection for Melbourne Victory's Round 14 fixture against Wellington Phoenix at Telstra Dome on Saturday 24 November 2007.

Tue. Oct. 30, 03:12:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

...Really enjoying these wraps Tony, many thanks. This was easily the best round of this year's HAL so far...hope it can continue...

Mike, thanks for the kind comment. Agree, the best rd by some way, and there are three crackers - at least on paper - this week, so things are really picking up.

Travelling up to Newcs?

Tue. Oct. 30, 03:16:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

...Travelling up to Newcs?...

Nah, can't unfortunately. But I'm going down to Melbourne soon to see a good friend who's just become a father...and by the most extraordinary coincidence, I'll be there on Nov. 10. ;-)

Wed. Oct. 31, 03:43:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

mike, your mate's got good timing

Wed. Oct. 31, 10:45:00 pm AEDT  

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