2015-16 A-League Season Preview: Adelaide United

They lifted the FFA Cup and just missed out on the Grand Final last season, but, with Josep Gombau gone, how will Adelaide fare this season? A-League expert Joey Ratcliffe takes a look.

Adelaide United

Manager: Guillermo Amor
Captain: Eugene Galekovic
Ins: Iacopo La Rocca (Western Sydney Wanderers), George Mells, Mate Dugandzic (Melbourne City), Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar)
Outs: Nigel Boogard (Newcastle Jets), Miguel Palanca (Gimnástic), Cameron Watson (Newcastle Jets), Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland), Paul Izzo (Central Coast Mariners)
Last Season: 3rd

2014-15 was… A steady season after winning the inaugural FFA Cup and finishing just one game away from the Grand Final.

In the semi-final they were pummelled 4-1 by a relentless Sydney FC, which could been seen as payback after the Sky Blues were bundled out of the Cup competition by Adelaide.

The Spanish revolution under Josep Gombau continued as compatriots Pablo Sanchez and Miguel Palanca, who earned La Liga caps with Real Madrid, replaced Argentine Jeronimo Neumann and Portugal’s Fabio Ferreira.

In 2013-14, Gombau’s new style of football was criticised as Adelaide struggled to win games, but by season’s end the players were executing the coaching to perfection.

With the addition of Craig Goodwin and the form of Tarek Elrich, Adelaide became more versatile in attack. With an extra year under his belt, Sergio Cirio thrived and new signing Sanchez slipped in effortlessly.

The powerful Bruce Djite and nimble Awer Mabil added various dimensions to their play.

2014-15 will be…  A new learning curve after the departure of Gombau to the United States. Adelaide’s technical director and Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor took the reigns, however, he faces the challenge of continuing Gombau’s revolution and also adding his own touch.

Led by arguably the best goalkeeper in the league, the addition of La Rocca to the defensive line and deeper-lying positions will strengthen their spine.

Without Mabil, Adelaide lack the x-factor that the youngster brought to the site. Dugandzic, on the other hand, will bring his own abilities to the side on the right-wing.

Adelaide have a very strong side and the flair of Marcelo Carrusca will again drive them to any success they may have.

There is little wrong with their attractive style of play, but goals will always be an issue for Adelaide. Will they be able to profit enough from their system on the scoreboard? Only time will tell, but it appears there are a too many teams ahead of them for Adelaide to make a true challenge at the title.

Key Player: Sergio Cirio. On paper, Carrusca would be picked by many others, but it is Cirio who is often the true architect and finisher for Adelaide.

He can score a lot of goals but his hold-up play and adept ability to transition into attack is so crucial to the way Adelaide play. Cirio is also one of the more versatile players in the league.

Primarily played out on the left, he is more than capable of sitting deeper in the middle or playing up top.

When the Spaniard is in-form, his darting runs from the left-side are some of the some of, if not the most dangerous runs in the League.

Spaniard Sergio Cirio is one of the league's most technically proficient players.
Spaniard Sergio Cirio is one of the league’s most technically proficient players.

What, or whom, do Adelaide United need? Someone who can score a lot of goals. Possession and control are just one part of winning football games.

Every team still needs a dominant striker to be successful. Last season, Melbourne Victory had Besart Berisha, Sydney had Marc Janko and Wellington had Nathan Burns.

Berisha was also the main man for Brisbane for many years in a team cherished possession in a similar way to Adelaide.

That’s not to say Adelaide pass all the time; they can also be very quick in attack and play many long passes, which is where the strength of Djite is needed. However, he hasn’t scored as many goals as he needs to in Adelaide’s system and their are doubts surrounding Eli Babalj’s pre-season form after a tough time in the Netherlands.

The Reds need a striker who can push for the Golden Boot if they’re going to push for the Championship and Premiership titles.

The Blog FC Predicted Finish: 5th

About Joey Ratcliffe 32 Articles

Joey is a journalist that specialises in online sports content ranging from football to golf. Currently working full-time as a Digital content coordinator on the editorial page of Golf Link (www.golflink.com.au), the Sydneysider has also worked freelance with The Roar (www.theroar.com.au) writing news stories and creating highlights packages for AFL, NRL, A-League, the football World Cup and cycling.

Often referred to as T-Rex on the football field due to his fast, yet strange technique of running, Joey prefers to dribble than pass or shoot.