Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Gamba Osaka 1-0 Adelaide
Well, it was a loss, but definitely a noble one in comparison to the meek capitulation away to Gamba in the first leg of the ACL final. Adelaide played very well from the outset, and in fact, despite the eventual result, it was some of the best football I've ever seen from Adelaide. Despite the fact that Diego and Cassio were still obviously far from 100%.
Viddie went back to the formation that Adelaide used so effectively against the Phoenix, and got Adelaide playing exactly how they should, given the players at theur disposal. Endo got on the end of a swift counterattacking move to get the only goal of the game, but Adelaide definitely had their chances, most of which belonged to Dodd: a shot just wide after a surging run on the counter, a looping header that hit the underside of the crossbar, and a glancing header just wide with 30 seconds left in the match. Cassio also had a near miss with a goalmouth scramble, and subs Younis had a decent long-range pop at goal near the death.
There were plenty of positives, including Jamieson's performance (once again) and the general hunger that the team showed, which was a vast improvement from the game against Waitakere. Our centre midfield of Diego, Reid and Barbiero were a little off their game, though, and failed to really contain Gamba's obvious class in this part of the park.
The only real criticism I have of Vidmar's performance is that Hitman Younis should have come on much earlier than he did. Although he hasn't had much time on the field he's been starting to show a bit of what he can do. In this match he injected a presence and hunger into the forward line that was sadly missing from Cristiano.
The substitution of Osama Malik at the expense of Cassio was an interesting one. Interesting, because it speaks volumes that Viddie was willing to take a punt on an 18-year-old that hasn't even played an A-League game, putting him on in a high-pressure environment in front of 40,000 mostly hostile fans rather than going for the more experienced Spagnuolo or Sarkies. And Malik held his own well enough with a couple of forward runs, a long-range crack at goal and no mistakes. Sarkies is goneski at the end of this season, one would think.
So, no game against Manchester United, which is a bit of a disappointment (THAT would have been huge), but a great performance and one that the players can be proud of. Next up: Egypt's own Red Devils, Al Ahly, in the fifth-place playoff.