A-League preview: Western Sydney Wanderers v Adelaide United
They are among the league's most in-form teams, and have also built their season around impeccable defences. So which side will blink first at Parramatta Stadium?
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Polenz, T-Stanley, Beauchamp, D'Apuzzo
Mooy, Poljak, La Rocca, OnoGibbs, Hersi
Watson, Fyfe, Boogaard, Cassio
Vidosic, Malik, CarruscaFerreira, Djite, Kostopoulos
Both sides come into the match buoyed by back-to-back wins, with the Wanderers beating local rivals Sydney FC 2-0 last Saturday while the Reds were too strong for Wellington on Sunday.
There was nothing between the sides in the first clash this season, with a Jeronimo Neumann goal settling the issue.
This encounter should be just as tight.
Tony Popovic has the benefit of having all his key players available for selection. Newly capped Australia international midfielder Aaron Mooy started the Sydney derby on the bench but could force his way into the starting side, with either Mateo Poljak, Shannon Cole or Iacopo La Rocca making way.
There is no doubt Mooy has been among the Wanderers' best this season before his trip away with the Socceroos, but the combination of La Rocca and Poljak did the job in his absence and may be favoured in an attempt to stop the Reds' midfield stars Marcelo Carrusca and Dario Vidosic.
There are pros and cons for whatever Popovic decides to do, but he will need to make the right call if they are to stop the Adelaide juggernaut. Mark Bridge - a first-choice forward for the Wanderers before being struck down by injury - is back in the hosts' squad and Popovic must also decide what, if any, role he may play.
The Reds are also at full strength and are likely to stick with the same squad that edged the Phoenix.
Striker Bruce Djite has been rewarded for his strong recent form with a new two-year deal, and will be eager to start getting in on the goal-scoring exploits of his teammates. Fellow striker Sergio van Dijk returns to the Reds squad, but is likely to have to settle for a spot on the bench at best.
This game marks the beginning of a busy festive schedule for all teams with four matches in just over two weeks.
Given the tight nature of the league, a run of wins or string of defeats can see any side move far up the ladder or free-fall right down it.
What all that means is plenty of matches that should be tight, tense and extremely hard-fought, with this one no exception.
Both sides' strong recent form will ensure each fancy their chances of coming out with all three points, but the well-organised and structured defences of both might just cancel each other out.
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Top 3 Predictions
Western Sydney Wanderers 0-2 Adelaide United
- 18.18 %
Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Adelaide United
- 18.18 %
Western Sydney Wanderers 1-3 Adelaide United
- 13.64 %
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||19/01/2014||Adelaide United 1 - Western Sydney Wanderers 0|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||01/11/2013||Western Sydney Wanderers 2 - Adelaide United 1|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||03/02/2013||Adelaide United 2 - Western Sydney Wanderers 4|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||21/12/2012||Western Sydney Wanderers 6 - Adelaide United 1|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||12/10/2012||Adelaide United 1 - Western Sydney Wanderers 0|
|Western Sydney Wanderers|
|08/03/2014||Sydney FC 3 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1||AUS1|
|02/03/2014||Western Sydney Wanderers 0 - Newcastle Jets 2||AUS1|
|26/02/2014||Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i 3||ACL|
|22/02/2014||Perth Glory 0 - Western Sydney Wanderers 2||AUS1|
|07/02/2014||Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - Brisbane Roar 1||AUS1|
|-||Adam Leonard D'Apuzzo||Defender|
|-||Iacopo La Rocca||Midfielder|
|6||José de Abreu Oliveira||Defender|
|8||Marcelo Adrian Carrusca||Midfielder|
|11||Bruce Jose Djite||Striker|
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed