For someone who not many would have known much about – or even heard of – we have come to expect many things from Josep Gombau and Adelaide United this season. They’ll play 4-3-3, they’ll try and dominate possession, and the emphasis will be on short, patient play: you can call it the Barcelona way, but a more appropriate, closer to home term might be Brisbane.
We can expect positive play out from the back – on which note, the distribution of Eugene Galekovic will be something to watch out for – as well as calm, intelligent distribution through midfield. That is, at least, in theory, but there’s nothing to discourage the feeling that Adelaide’s current midfielders should be well suited to the task, with new Spanish signing Isaías Sánchez expected to become a centre point of the new Adelaide.
He’ll drop in between the two centre-backs and help spread play, as well as allowing the full-backs to motor forward – in which regard, the arrivals of Tarek Elrich and Michael Zullo should prove very important signings, as a pair of energetic, attack-minded wingers-turned-defenders.
As a product of the Barcelona youth academy, Isaías is effectively Gombau’s foot soldier – the player who already understands what’s required of him in the system and can set the example for others to follow. Osama Malik could also theoretically play there, allowing Isaías to become the ‘second function midfielder’.
Marcelo Carrusca will be the most advanced in the midfield triangle, and after being shoved wide frequently last season, it’ll be fascinating to see how the clearly gifted playmaker goes in a more organised side – he might relish the freedom to dribble directly towards the final third from central positions.
Cirio is Adelaide’s other fascinating pre-season addition. Interestingly, despite being touted as a left winger when he signed, he’s been used through the middle in pre-season, often dropping into deeper, playmaking positions – the movement associated with a false nine.
However, he appears more of a wide player, more comfortable darting inside from the flank and making bisecting runs between the full-back and centre-back, which is the ideal movement to complement a false nine’s vertical movement. It’ll be fascinating to see whether the positional play was by circumstance or by design, and the use of Jake Barker-Daish, a midfielder, upfront in the last pre-season friendly against Adelaide United, suggests it could be the latter.
If Adelaide do play with a false nine, it’s so important that the central player’s movement away from the defenders is reciprocated by a teammate darting in behind said defenders, and it’s feasible that a high percentage of Adelaide’s goals will come from the wide forwards, as was the case with Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory last season. Jeronimo Neumann will cut inside from the left, while Fabio Ferriera tended to stay wide right under John Kosmina, but should also relish a new freedom to move inside.