This game had a scintillating start and, despite the heat, the tempo remained high throughout. Adelaide’s 4-2 win saw them momentarily return to the top of the A-League table, although Central Coast overtook them after their win over Newcastle Jets.
This match was won and lost in the first half, and in particular in the wide battles. Melbourne Victory, as they have done throughout the season, looked to keep Rojas and Nabbout high up the pitch to exploit the spaces in behind the opposing fullback. When going forward, Adelaide exploited the fact Rojas and Nabbout stayed high, and targeted the fullbacks (Sam Gallagher in particular) in 1v1 and 2v1 situations.
Adelaide United’s Wide Players
The early Adelaide goal, within the opening 2 minutes, was an example of a continual pattern throughout this match. The ball was frequently played early to Fabio Ferreira, enabling him to attack the fullback, supported by Cam Watson.
The pass from Boogaard found Ferreira who was in a 1v1 duel with Gallagher. Franjic was guilty of not stepping across to close the space in behind Gallagher and when Ferreira rounded the fullback, he was able to cross for Kostopolous to score.
This pattern continued frequently throughout the match, with Boogaard repeatedly playing early diagonal passes to isolate Ferreira 1v1 with the fullback.
(Note: 10 of Boogaard’s 34 forward passes were towards the right wing.)
Adelaide’s second goal was another example of this, with a pass from Boogaard towards the right leading to the goal.
On this occasion, Bru was able to move across to assist Gallagher in closing the wide areas. Franjic again failed to slide across to close the spaces in behind the fullback. Melbourne was able to clear the ball for a throw-in, however this space was then exploited.
From the throw-in, Carrusca was able to dart into this space and flick a pass onto the onrushing Ferreira, who finished neatly.
The main cause of this pattern was the lack of tracking from the Victory wide players. Postecoglou prefers Rojas and Nabbout to stay high up the pitch for the counter attack, although this requires the holding midfielders, Bru and Celeski, to cover across the pitch to defend in wide areas.
This graphic demonstrates the lack of defensive duties for Rojas and Nabbout. Comparatively, Ferreira and Kostopoulos regained possession on 18 occasions, with 9 occurring in their defensive half.
Melbourne Victory’s Wide Players
Melbourne’s equalising goal, after 5 minutes was a clear example of their tactical set up this season. The ball was played in behind the fullback (Cassio) to Rojas, with the opposite winger (Nabbout) charging into the box for the square ball.
This is the main reason why the Victory wide players don’t track back when possession is lost; instead they look to remain in positions to initiate similar attacks. An example of this occurred again after 17 minutes and was so nearly Melbourne’s opportunity to take the lead.
Melbourne regained possession and a ball in behind was immediately played. Nabbout and Rojas attacked the space in behind the fullbacks (circled red) and looked to combine, however Boogaard retreated just in time to clear the ball for a corner.
Shortly after this goal scoring chance, Adelaide was able to score 3 goals in 11 minutes to secure a 4-1 lead going into half-time.
Despite Melbourne scoring a second within minutes of the restart to take the score to 4-2, the game dropped in quality, and Adelaide was more content with defending their lead. This allowed Victory to dominate possession; with 59.4% possession in the second half vs. 49.6% in the first 31 minutes, as Adelaide was content to remain compact.
They again had chances to score, with the Rojas-Nabbout combination.
Despite this, the game became scrappy with possession frequently being turned over. In the first half, possession was turned over on 103 occasions; this increased by 47% in the second half, with the turnover rates swelling to 151. Adelaide and Melbourne’s turnovers increased by 53% (51 increasing to 78), and 40% (52 increasing to 73) respectively.
Noticeably, after 70minutes, Adelaide United began to press high up the pitch to force turnovers.
From the second half until the 70th minute, Adelaide only regained possession on 6 occasions in their attacking half (16%). However, from 70 minutes onwards, this increased to 38% (14/37).
There was two clear examples of this intent to press after 70 minutes. The first example occurred in the 73rd minute and the second just two minutes later.
On this occasion, from a goal-kick, Adelaide’s forward players (Kostopoulos, Djite and Ferreira) actively pressured the goal-keeper and central defenders. When Coe passed to Leijer, Ferreira was able to force Leijer into the corner. Adelaide’s midfielders then pinned them back by closing down his immediate options.
This second example resulted in Adelaide winning back possession. In part 1, Leijer passed to Jeggo who was immediately closed down and forced to give the ball back to Lejier. Leijer then passed to Celeski who again was immediately closed down, and again Leijer received back the ball. Leijer then distributed to Finkler in a congested midfield area, and Fyfe pressed from central defence to dispossess Finkler.
An all-action first half, with 5 goals in 31 minutes allowed Adelaide to take a 4-1 win into half-time. These goals occurred by exploiting wide areas – with Adelaide outnumbering the Melbourne fullbacks when Rojas and Nabbout didn’t track back. Melbourne exploited the space in behind defenders with Rojas and Nabbout remaining high up the pitch for the counter attack.
The game’s quality dropped, and Adelaide allowed Melbourne to dominate possession. With the score 4-2 and 20minutes to go, Adelaide actively pressured Melbourne, resulting in numerous turnovers.
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