We pick the seven most influential players who’ll bring glory to their club when the Reds host City on Friday night in what will be a fiery, intense yet skilful and tactical battle in the Hyundai A-League Semi Final at Coopers.
7: Bruce Djite (Reds)
Brucey epitomises Adelaide’s success this season. Hard-working, physical, ruthless with a good sprinkling of quality. He has found his mojo in front of goal of late, and it’s goals that win you games, while his imposing frame and strength will be crucial in bringing his attacking team-mates into the game.
6: Osama Malik (City)
There was plenty of feeling last time these two met and former Red Malik knows that won’t let up on Friday night. Malik needs to keep his composure because he will be key in screening and disrupting the flow of the Reds in and around Djite, whilst in possession providing a platform for his attacking midfielders to do their thing.
5: Aaron Mooy (City)
Undoubtedly City’s main man. If JVS’s side is to make their first GF, it’s some more Mooy magic which is likely to make it happen. A genuine box-to-box midfielder, with 11 goals and 20 assists for the season. The best Aussie player in the A-League? You bet! And given time and space, can win the game for City.
4: Marcelo Carrusca (Reds)
The Reds’ creative hub, this is the time ‘Chelo’ will want to step up. Has the class to unlock any defence with his deft touch and vision for a pass. Adelaide will be a threat the more the Argentine can get on the ball. Shut him down, niggle him, have him face his own goal as much as possible will be the message from JVS.
3: Craig Goodwin (Reds)
There’s not a better sight for Reds fans than seeing Goodwin in full flight. His direct running and positive approach is massive for Adelaide on the left flank. Possesses a wicked crossing ability as well both from set-pieces and open play.
2: Iacopo La Rocca (Reds)
Very little gets past the versatile Italian centre back. Playing in these big games and overcoming this type of challenge is in La Rocca’s DNA. He never takes a backward step and will implore his teammates to follow suit. But if he’s the man to stop Fornaroli, then his influence will be absolutely key.
1: Bruno Fornaroli (City)
Best import to the Hyundai A-League this season? It’s impossible to say anything else given the Uruguayan’s stunning campaign. 25 goals in 28 games and the majority of them absolute stunners. Is there any stopping brilliant Bruno? If he’s allowed to turn, if he’s allowed to drift deep and create, if he’s given space, he’ll be the biggest influence on this game.