Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans regain some of the Glory

A-League round 12 analysis

WHILE version 3 has, in the main, been one for the youngsters, with the like of Burns, Djite, Zullo, Kruse, D’Apuzzo, Boogaard and Holland all making an impression to date, round 12 will be remember as the one where the veterans struck back. For Perth, there were big performances from Colosimo and Harnwell, the latter back in the heart of the defence. For the Mariners, there were accomplished displays from their experienced spine, Vidmar, Pondeljak and Aloisi all massive in their best performance of the season. Later that night, Bolton and Muscat stood out for their sides, while yesterday the likes of Seo, McLaren and Moore were all steady, despite the Roar’s youngsters and Brazilians grabbing the headlines. While the veterans shone, it was also a round that featured some accomplished displays in the front third, and while I could only choose three up front in my team of the week (below), there were some unlucky front-men, including Thompson, Simon, Kruse and Joel Griffiths. Here is my take on all four round 12 games;

NJ 1 v PG 4

Problems for Gary van Egmond at Newcastle. The manager has done a brilliant job, in my mind, to have this squad where it is at the halfway point of the season, but now the real test begins. The Jets’ South American signings – whether his or Con Constantine’s – have largely been a miss, and there is clearly not enough depth in the front third to get the job done consistently. Joel Griffiths continues to be a threat, but he was a lone ranger on Friday. Bridge has been quiet of late and needs to come back from Olyroo duty on fire if the Jets are to stay in the four. D’Apuzzo continues to impress in midfield, but could do with the support of Musalik, while Laybutt is, well, laboured. While Durante should have done better in mopping up, the first goal was Laybutt’s, and the rot set in. As for Perth, some interesting work from David Mitchell, starting with Harnwell in central defence and Rukavytsya in attack. No doubt about it, Perth was happy to defend deeper and play on the counter, especially after they took the lead fro the second time, and it worked a treat. The other good work from Mitchell was his decision at the break to go to a back three and switch Downey over to the left. His, Bertos and Rukavytsya’s pace on the counter proved far too effective for a Jets side chasing the game.

CCM 2 v AU 0

The Mariners might be sitting atop the league, but they haven’t been flash of late, despite Lawrie McKinna’s protestations to the contrary. This was their best performance in some time, perhaps all season, controlling the driving Adelaide midfield through the tagging working on Pantelis, Burns, Dodd, Diego and Sarkies. Far too physical for a United side missing the formidable muscle provided by Salley, Djite and Costanzo, it was good to see that once the Mariners won the physical battle, the football followed, and some of it was a delight. At the heart of most of the good stuff was Pondeljak who dominated the centre of midfield along with Jedinak, outstanding in looking after both Pantelis and Burns. It provided the platform for Aloisi to prove he’s still a striker of note, at least at this level. Adelaide not only lacked a physical edge, but had little presence up front, and Aurelio Vidmar will be sweating on the return of Djite. Like van Egmond, it will be interesting to observe how Vidmar comes out of this rough patch.

MV 0 v SFC 0

After a relatively average first period, things livened up in the second, both teams having a real go, which was great to watch. Melbourne might have gone up early in the second, but Bolton, after his worst period in probably a decade, appears back to his best and was up for everything Thompson threw at him. Back came Sydney, especially after the introduction of Juninho, and it was Brosque, full of confidence, who might have given the visitors the lead, but for a combination of the post and some wonderful scrabbling from an undermanned Victory rearguard, lead superbly by Muscat. Back came the hosts, the addition of Caceres (far too late in my opinion), providing the spark that might have seen Thompson grab a late winner. In the end though, I felt a point each was a fair reflection of the match, but it was a result that appeared to suit the visitors, who’s fans appeared the happier of the two. But the carry on before and afterwards and the resultant hysteria does nothing for the image of our game, so whoever knows these kids/young adults, please pull them aside and tell them to pull their heads if they care for the game. If they don’t, tell them they aren’t welcome, which is pretty much the point made by fellow blogger Mike Salter, who was at the game.

QR 3 v WP 0

The Roar are flying and still have improvement in them. In truth though, this game turned on the red card to Elrich for a silly swinging elbow a third of the way in. While the Roar had looked the more dangerous up until then, suddenly they were able to relax and get their young wide men in the game, and once that happened, it was bad news for Christie and Lochhead. Some of the Roar build-ups were patient and easy on the eye, and one memorable one in the first half saw the ball knocked around from right to left and back to the right again for at least 10 passes until space was created for Seo to blast one across the keeper. Top stuff. Yet for all their domination, the Phoenix were holding on, scrambling well, until Farina took off his holding midfielder, McLaren, and brought on the direct Marchino. Suddenly the Roar had a player who could up the ante, and it was he who started driving forward, getting into the box and linking up with his compatriot Reinaldo, confidence booming after finally getting one last week. With the two midfield pocket-rockets (McKay and Murdocca) and the two wide pocket-rockets (Kruse and Zullo) lending support, it was a matter of time, and after the first came the flood. Marchino’s work in making the first and finishing the third were sublime, while Reinaldo’s Viduka-esque back-flick was that of a man on top of his game. Meanwhile, Kruse and McKay played a lovely hand in creating the second, while Zullo’s pace in creating the third was breathtaking. Indeed, the Roar are flying, but there are still plenty of tests ahead.


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

Goalkeeper; Bolton (SFC)
Defence; Seo (QR), Muscat (MV), Vidmar (CCM)
Midfield; Pondeljak (CCM), Colosimo (PG), Jedinak (CCM), Marchino (QR)
Forwards; Reinaldo (QR), J Aloisi (CCM), Rukavytsya (PG)

5 Comments:

Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks for the analysis once again Mr Round Ball. Much more sober than mine, and very welcome.

I'm overjoyed to see Reinaldo included in your lineup this week. As you know, even in the midst of his goal-missing rut this season I had begun to see a brilliant performer playing a crucial role (except for the Round 10 game against Perth where his confidence hit the all-time low). Well we know he's scored a lot of goals in the past, before coming to Oz, and I reckon his psychological rut, reinforced by each miss, has been broken. I'm tipping him for top goal scorer of the League this season.

Mon. Nov. 12, 11:07:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

....I'm tipping him for top goal scorer of the League this season....

Geez, that's massive Hamish, I might have agreed with you at the start of the season...definitely would have thought you were mad a couple of weeks ago, but only two goals off top, he's now a chance, but geez there's a bit of competition and Aloisi even comes into it...

It's kinda like the title race - you could make a case for many.

Mon. Nov. 12, 11:18:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Hamish said...

Well as I said Tony your analysis is much more sober than mine. I guess when it comes to emotional investment I'm a gambler - steep odds with the promise of very high returns. Comes with the territory of being a Roar fan I guess.

And I just read on the Courier Mail site that the big Brazilian not only wants to become an Australian, but has ambitions to play for the Socceroos! He's an emotional gambler himself it seems - hope he's not getting a bit to ahead of himself, but hell, good luck to him!!

Tue. Nov. 13, 08:38:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i recently departed brisbane for cold japan, and have been following the a-league through writing such as this, you-tube vids, the world game site and vids, and the SMH. i havent been able to see a full a-league game since i left oz (6 months ago). so my thoughts are based on highlights, which is a very flawed
way of looking at things i think.

seems the younger talent is performing at a higher level than they did in v1 and v2.

i`d appreciate your thoughts on how the youngsters are going ... their strengths, weaknesses, how they compare against each other.

of course, if this sounds really boring, please feel free to ignore ... i enjoy reading the weekly round up as is.

thanks

clayton

Tue. Nov. 13, 10:18:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

hi clayton, thanks for your comment and interest in my weekly wraps, it's great to know they warm you up in cold of Japan...nowhere near The Urawa Reds home of Siatama are you?? Gotta love that crowd, one of the best I've seen around the world, just love it and I cant wait to watch them in action tomorrow night (we get the game here)

Re the youngsters over here, I think you're always gonna get a scenario where this league has some strong performances from the kids, and that should continue to be the case as the best head o/s and are replaced by other kids..

I think in v1 there seemed a bit of a reluctance from managers - too safe some of them - to give the kids a run, but there were still a few that emerged like Timpano, Wikinson, Leijer, Milligan...but overall, managers were pretty conservative as they looked to protect their jobs (for many it didnt work)...

last season emerged the likes of Burns, Spagnuolo, Vidosic, Bridge, Topor-Stanley, Broxham and Musalik, and this year has seen even better, as I mentioned in my piece...seems managers are giving the kids more of a run, and they've been doing better than the so called established stars, and this crop of Olyroos is emerging just beautifully in my opinion.

i could write/talk about this all day (not the slightest bit boring) but heres a quick look at a few;

milligan - quick, strong and reads the game beautifully
Djite - quick, strong, brings others into the game, not the greatest technically, but finding his goal-getting touch (before the injury)
Burns - the modern day footballer; great technique combined with power and pace
Bridge - great feet, mobile and great awareness
Musalik - gun, a player ahead of his age, sees everything and has the range of passing and football brain to keep the ball

There's just a taste, I'll expand on it if I ever get the time

btw, If you end up doing some scouting for a J-League club, I'll expect a cut :-)

Tue. Nov. 13, 10:43:00 pm AEDT  

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