Saturday, February 17, 2007


Grand Final Preview

You couldn’t ask for a better grand final match-up. The two teams which produced that superb game in Round 8 meet up again, at the same venue.

In their previous meeting, the major semi-final second leg, Adelaide simply allowed Ernie Merrick’s men to boss the midfield, particularly towards the close. Significantly, Adelaide were not able to use the wide avenues as much as they would have liked, due to the absence of Spagnuolo and Petta; as a result, Melbourne were able to make all the running.

It must be clear by now that playing Nathan Burns on the left simply does not work. If neither Spagnuolo nor Petta are fit to play tomorrow afternoon, John Kosmina should, in my view, look to stiffen the centre of midfield (perhaps by moving Costanzo up from the back, and slotting Kristian Rees in alongside Michael Valkanis), while keeping Travis Dodd as his wide outlet.

This would leave the left side empty, but it can probably be covered by a full-back as nimble as Matthew Ke…oh, wait a minute…

That’s right, Kemp is suspended. Possibly the chief cause of Kosmina’s colourful blast at Matthew Breeze last week, although there were surely other factors.

Who to play at left-back, then? Aaron Goulding is the obvious choice, but he has seen very little game time this season, and it’s far from certain that he would be up to a byline-to-byline role. Adam van Dommele, too, has been a cipher this season.

One other option might be to play the versatile Greg Owens there. It is far from his natural position, but he has occupied just about every position bar goalkeeper for Adelaide over the past year and made a reasonable fist of it. Alternatively, Owens could once again fill the right-back slot, with Richie Alagich switching wings.

Then there’s the question of Bruce Djite. He has proved a menace to opposition defences in his cameo appearances over the last couple of months; not a natural finisher by any means, he nevertheless uses his physical strength to commendable effect.

Is he, perhaps, worth a start? Melbourne possess strength at the back, of course, but Djite’s bullocking style has proved difficult for even some powerful centre-halves to handle. However, on such a big stage, Kosmina is likely to opt for experience once again.

Melbourne face few selection problems. It is likely that Merrick will start with the formation that has served him so well throughout, with Muscat and Brebner (if he can make it) shielding the back four and Fred drifting dangerously behind the front line.

If Brebner is unfit to start, Mark Byrnes could fill the breach, or even Kristian Sarkies, if he has recovered from his Olyroo knocks.

Around halfway through the season I was telling most of my friends that Adelaide were my pick for the title.

Well, they’ve made the grand final. But to be honest, I don’t think they’ll get there.

Melbourne will have a more settled team, massive home support, and the psychological edge, having defeated Adelaide the last time the two teams met.

In my opinion, it should be enough to see them over the line.

interesting that the teams with the big stadiums mv (after the move), roar and sydney have had more trouble pleasing their fans at home than away. maybe the away teams lift in the improved surroundings?
...maybe the away teams lift in the improved surroundings?...

Exactly what I suggested here.

Wasn't the case tonight, however. ;-)
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