City and Wanderers pleased the audience with a very nice spectacle. Their football philosophy at the moment is very well supported by the quality of the players. No matter what system or philosophy you have, if the players aren’t capable of transforming it in football, it will fail. And City and WSW have a handful of players above the average of australian football.
Melbourne’s side decided to face WSW with a bold 343. I don’t know if Van’t Schip philosophy is too score as many goals as possible and don’t care about defense but that would be an audacious assumption. The fact is that their football is all attack at the moment and it shows in ther impressive 35 goals scored in the season, nothing less than 13 ahead of the second topscoring team, Brisbane Roar. On the other hand they are the second most fragile defense, with 24 goals conceded, only topped by bottom-of-the-table Mariners.
City decided not to concede WSW the space to play from the back and the Sydney side wasn’t intending to change their strategy and the circumstance favoured the home side. WSW struggled to start their plays. If you’re pressed that high you need to play back to your goalkeeper and they don’t seem to be confident about Andrew Redmayne’s outfield play at the moment. The result was that City was able to steal the ball really high during the entire first half. The dominance resulted in a 2-0 scoreline before the 24′ mark, the second one a marvellous old school counter: In 10 seconds the ball went from the goalkeeper to the back of the net, in another brilliant finish by the goal-scoring machine Fornaroli.
However the 3-4-3 assembled by City proved suicidal against the super-smart red-and-black attack, which had inumerous chances to score. And at 28′ Wanderers finally got there using their most lethal weapon: Mitch Nichols, easily one of the best players of the tournament so far, participating in most of WSW goals and featuring in the top-10 play makers of the league.
In the second half the visitor managed to get a hold of the game and the higher quality of its central midfielders dictated the pace. City still managed to threat under the guidance of Aaron Mooy but WSW could have turned it into a 4-2 easily as chances poured in. Romeo Castelen replaced Fornaroli and turned City’s life into a nightmare, using his pace to be found at the back of the enemy lines a handful of times. And he shot the ball who was deflected into the home side’s net to tie the game.
From then on it could be anyone’s game, even though WSW was always more dangerous. It’s hard for any team to press for 90 minutes and the visitors started to find solutions to play from the back. And they could have been in front if it wasn’t for a confusing decision of the referee.
But football is really amazing and once again the dominant side got punished in a chance created by Mooy and powerfully finished by Novillo.
However fragile the defences may have been, the solutions both coaches tried to find were in terms of how to attack as much as they could while keeping some balance at the back. It all should revolve around attacking. And both teams should be cheered for the excellent football provided Saturday Night.
The picture shows WSW trying to play out from the back. In this situation, where the pressing is effective, you either have a plan to play long or start again with the only free man available: The goalkeeper.