Adelaide United Ready For Major Melbourne Test

Adelaide United FC has no better opportunity to take an advantage over its fierce rivals Melbourne Victory, when the sides lock horns tomorrow night at Hindmarsh Stadium in the 1st leg of the Hyundai A-League Major Semi Final.
United has had a fortnight to refresh and prepare for its 2008/09 finals tilt, and with the opening leg at home against the newly crowned Hyundai A-League Minor Premiers, The Reds are hoping to make it count heading into the 2nd leg at the Telstra Dome on Saturday week. 

Despite Melbourne taking all nine points from the teams’ previous encounters this season, United Coach Aurelio Vidmar believes it stands for nothing coming into a finals series.  

“The finals bring different things forward, and everyone starts thinking a little bit different because of that word,” Vidmar said.  

“We’ve had three pretty tough games with them (this season), albeit losing games, but I think we’ve certainly learnt a fair bit from those three games and we’ll tweak a few little things tomorrow and hopefully we can get on top.”

Talented defender Scott Jamieson shares Vidmar’s views and says any past results against the Victory have been forgotten. 

“It’s a different ball game now, it’s finals football. The past doesn’t matter and we’re very confident that we’re going to do a job and get to the Grand Final,” Jamieson said. 

With the two sides featuring in a Major Semi Final for the second time in three seasons, the history of Adelaide and Melbourne encounters is set for another enticing chapter over the next week.

Vidmar admits the matches always prove to be exciting and fiery battles and he expects tomorrow night’s to be no different.  

Melbourne Victory Captain Kevin Muscat has been a central figure in the history between the two sides, but Vidmar is not being drawn into any Muscat intimidation factor.  

“There’s eleven versus eleven and Muscat is not the only one in the team,” Vidmar said.

“He (Muscat) doesn’t just talk to the opposition players, he talks to his own, he talks to the referee, he talks to the linesmen, he probably talks to the fourth official and the people in the stands as well. He’s been around for a long time and he’s just on the ball with a lot of things.”  

Reds defender Robert Cornthwaite will miss the game as he serves a one match suspension, but United welcomes back key centre back Sasa Ognenovski after he missed the final minor round game against the Central Coast Mariners for the same reason.  

Vidmar has hinted that veteran Michael Valkanis will partner Ognenovski in the centre of defence, the 34 year old with a wealth of finals experience having been part of The Reds’ previous two Hyundai A-League finals campaigns. 

New midfield signing Rostyn Griffiths has been included in an extended United squad, while Qantas Young Socceroos defender Daniel Mullen is back in full training after a knee injury and could also come under consideration to make the final 16 man squad, which Vidmar is expected to finalise after training this afternoon.

Despite falling just short of finishing on top of the table in the final round of the season, Adelaide created numerous chances in its last outing and Vidmar believes if his team can make its opportunities count, The Reds have the potential to cause the Victory some problems. 

“I was really encouraged by the performance of our team against the Central Coast a couple of weeks ago and we could have scored three or four goals but the ball just didn’t want to go in,” Vidmar said.   “But I’m very confident that we’ll continue to create chances.”  

The Victory are at full strength, but United will approach the game confident it can handle the pressure and perform in the big occasions due to their experience in the AFC Champions League Final. 

“Leading up into these finals, it probably puts us in a pretty good position that we’ve actually been able to taste a final of that magnitude so I’d say it certainly puts us in good stead,” Vidmar said.