Five things we learned this week in the A-League

Sydney FC are flourishing post Del Piero

It would be unfair to say that Alessandro Del Piero held Sydney FC back in his time at the club but there can be no denying that they look much better now than they did in either of his two years at the club.

Of course, a change in manager with Graham Arnold replacing Frank Farina has helped massively and the Sky Blues are currently enjoying an unbeaten start to the campaign.

Overturning a 2-0 deficit to beat Western Sydney Wanderers last week did their confidence the world of good and two superb goals from Marc Janko and Milos Dimitrijevic gave them a Friday night victory over Brisbane Roar.

Their high pressing tactics worked superbly against last season’s champions, and in a now fully fit Terry Antonis they have one of the league’s most promising central midfielders.

Melbourne’s appetite for football continues to soar

A crowd of 43,729 packed into Etihad Stadium on Saturday night to witness the first Melbourne Derby between Victory and City since the latter was re-branded from Heart.

Victory fans stoked a few fires before the game, displaying a banner that read “Change your name, change your colour$, this city will always be ours!”, but once the game got going it looked like that could be up for debate as City twice went ahead in the first half.

However, a Besart Berisha hat-trick and a double from Archie Thompson saw title favourites Victory run out comfortable 5-2 winners in the end.

As football continues to grow in popularity in Victoria, the passion in the stands was there for all to see throughout and there have been no reports of any major incidents involving either set of supporters.

Following the successful visit of Liverpool to the city in 2013 where more than 95,000 watched them take on Victory, the talk is that Manchester City are one of a number of big clubs who could play the MCG next winter.

 

Winning ugly is still winning

While not exactly an A-League talking point, the Western Sydney Wanderers’ run to the final of the Asian Champions League after only two years of existence is quite remarkable and deserves a mention.

Tony Popovic has built a solid unit who defend extremely well and have developed a habit for beating much more fancied opponents, however they are regularly very hard to watch.

Indeed, in their 1-0 first leg win over Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal on Saturday night, the Wanderers failed to muster a shot on or off target in the entire opening 45 minutes.

Despite being the away side, Al Hilal dominated possession but failed to make it count and they were duly punished when substitute Tomi Juric converted a superb cross from Antony Golec.

It’s fair to say that we can expect an even less pretty showing from the Wanderers when they travel to Riyadh for the second leg on November 1 but if they can take home the trophy will anyone care?

 

Wellington’s front three could fire them to the finals

Questions over the Wellington Phoenix’s continued participation in the A-League have been raised over the past few weeks but while they are still part of the competition they’re becoming very easy on the eye.

The attacking trio of Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey and Jeremy Brockie destroyed the Newcastle Jets 4-1 on Sunday in a dominant performance that saw plenty of free-flowing counter attacking football.

Burns grabbed a brace against his former club, while McGlinchey has now scored in three successive games since joining from the Central Coast Mariners.

Throw two very competent midfielders, Albert Riera and Roly Bonevacia, into the mix and you have a very solid base on which to build.

Adelaide United could be the best team to watch this season

Perth Glory travelled to South Australia full of confidence having won their opening two games of the season, but they were brought back to earth by a scintillating Adelaide United side whose brand football continues to earn praise.

Argentine Marcelo Carrusca picked the pocket of Glory full back Scott Jamieson before playing a perfect through ball for the in-form Cirio to score the opener, and substitute Awer Mabil bagged the second before giving us a contender for Miss of the Season.

Coach Josep Gombau comes from a background of coaching at Barcelona and his players are looking comfortable with his philosophy of playing out from the back.

The Reds have also developed a ruthless streak when it comes to punishing the mistakes of their opponents, making them a very dangerous prospect for any opposition.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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