Tuesday night’s FFA Cup Final will be contested by two teams that have enjoyed excellent upward trajectories this season, though for somewhat different reasons.
The acclaim for Josep Gombau’s side stems from an acknowledgement of his long-term project to give Adelaide a clear identity, a job few could argue has not been achieved. Everyone now knows Adelaide will dominate possession, play short, neat passing football and attack down the flanks – it’s ‘Barca-lite’, but it also has a distinctively Adelaide feel to it. They sit third in the ladder, but in terms of the praise from both media and fans, they’re top of the league.
The real league leaders, though, are Perth, who haven’t undergone as much of a stylistic revolution as simply an attitude overhaul. Kenny Lowe’s mantra throughout pre-season was about signing “blue collar players,” ones that will “work hard and give their all for the shirt”. It sounded somewhat cliche, but it seems to have worked. Perth have been defeated only once so far this season – that, as fate would have it, was against Adelaide.