Monday, April 14, 2008
More Asian Observations
The Melbourne v. Gamba Osaka game was, above all, fantastic entertainment. It is a real credit to the Japanese side that they pushed up and played for the win throughout, even after they'd brought the scoreline back to 3-3 in the second half.
Melbourne, to my mind, actually played a lot better than they have been given credit for. With no Thompson, no Hernandez and no Brebner, and up against a side featuring a few internationals, they caused plenty of problems for the Japanese side in defence. At the other end it was a different story, but Michael Theoklitos, sadly, must bear a fair bit of responsibility for that. One of the A-League's best 'keepers managed to cram all the mistakes he didn't make during the regular season into one ACL tie.
A friend of mine who recently spent some time in Japan has commented to me that the speed of the J-League really takes one by surprise. Certainly, although the A-League has quickened considerably since its inception, the likes of Masato Yamazaki and the rampaging fullback Michihiro Yasuda made Melbourne look sluggish at times.
Yet in most other respects Melbourne were a match for Gamba, as Sydney FC were for Urawa last season (with the exception of Robson Ponte). I wouldn't be at all surprised if Melbourne were to snatch a point in the return leg, although a win is not all that likely.
As for Adelaide, they have been demonstrating the benefit of their experience in the competition this season. Against a fairly ordinary Vietnamese side, enlivened only by the presence of the South African Philani up front, they controlled the play impressively, paced themselves well, survived a shaky period in the second half, and got the goals they needed without much ado.
It was, in fact, the same strategy that Australia adopted in the only Asian Cup game in which they did themselves justice - the quarter-final against Japan. Sustained spells of possession (some might say shuffling the ball around aimlessly at the back) followed by brief, minatory periods of pressing. Minus the occasional pressing, the same basic game-plan was adopted by Pim Verbeek in Kunming.
And Adelaide managed to prevail despite a bizarre formation (Nathan Burns on the left? Travis Dodd as a lone striker?!?) and the indifferent form of several players. It appears that Adelaide are starting to become adept at winning ugly in Asia, a skill which will become critical for Australian sides in the years to come.
Also agree on Burns. He was hardly in the game. Still Adelaide are going to do what it takes, they have always tried to. Keen to see what there home crowds will be like now they have a chance to go through - but they almost have to win every game with only one to go through and sitting equal top.
Burns and Pantelis needed to swap, I don't know what Viddie was thinking but that was not the first useless game Pantelis has had centrally.
I can't help thinking Travis Dodd would look really good at right back when Alagich goes, I reckon he'd be a real contender for the NT if he made that spot his own.
Also what are your thoughts on Cassio? The more I see the less I like.
Hmmm...maybe. I think Dodd's first instincts are always to attack, not sure he could adapt to playing in a back four.
...Also what are your thoughts on Cassio? The more I see the less I like....
Really? For mine he's one of Adelaide's most consistent players, and the best of last year's Brazilian imports by some distance.
Caught out defensively once or twice on Wednesday, it's true, but he always offers plenty going forward.
You could say the same thing about Emerton a few years back. I just think Dodd has the speed and upper body strength to deal with that position and Verbeek has mentioned he likes attacking full backs.
"Really? For mine he's one of Adelaide's most consistent players, and the best of last year's Brazilian imports by some distance.
Caught out defensively once or twice on Wednesday, it's true, but he always offers plenty going forward."
Well being the best from Brazil last year is nothing to get excited about though.
My issue with him is that he gets regularly exposed for his lack of pace and height and I don't know whether you caught the game against the speedy Yatai team but he got beaten time and time again for pace.
I just think as a league we should be expecting much more from our import players, especially when you see the likes of Philani - love to see him at AUFC!
Also if you think I'm being harsh then consider that Alagich, a guy clearly on his last legs, has gotten forward and scored at least three good goals this year on the right whereas Cassio hasn't even looked like scoring.
And that's the really telling stat. Cassio had a good pre-season, and has looked out of depth since - and I saw all of Adelaide's home games...
You have to remember, Gamba Osaka had a grueling match schedule, travelled all the way to Melbourne and yet at times managed to totally outplay them.
Lets be honest, the first two melbouren goals were extremely lucky, the first goal a bad GK error, the second there was about 3 fouls in the box for that goal.
A-league teams need to learn how to play out from the back and to keep possession..
I dont agree with you at all about Australian teams learning to grind out results.... why don't we learn how to play good football and take it to the opposition?