Season Preview: Adelaide United

Team: Adelaide United 

Manager: Josep Gombau

Stadium: Coopers Stadium

Last season finish: 4th

Predicted finish: 3rd at the completion of the regular season, Grand Finalist

Inclusions:  Isaias Sanchez (RCD Espanyol, Spain), Sergio Cirio (CE L’Hospitalet, Spain), Tarek Elrich (Western Sydney Wanderers), Michael Zullo – on loan (FC Utrecht, Netherlands), Steve Lustica (Hajduk Spilt, Croatia)

Star signing: Michael Zullo

After signing for FC Utrecht, Michael Zullo arrives back in Australia on a loan deal eager to impress. It is a move considered as one of the best signings thus far. With Brazil 2014 in his sights, Zullo wants to play as much football as possible as he attempts to impress coach Holger Osieck.

After a spell with FC Utrecht alongside former Brisbane Roar players Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota, Zullo only made 34 appearances for the club in what was an injury plagued spell. Subsequently, Adelaide United jumped at the chance to sign the left-sided player on a season long loan. With much at stake, Zullo has spoken optimistically at having the chance to play regular football at the Reds and has spoken highly of new Reds manager Josep Gombau.

With Gombau implementing some major changes at the club, Zullo is a signing which could flourish under Gombau and provide pace, technical ability and European experience to the squad. Although, a question remains: will Michael Zullo remain fit and live out his footballing potential with Adelaide United? Reds fans certainly hope so!

“So I need to try and force myself back into that side [FC Utrecht] and the only way I can do that is by playing week-in, week-out in the A-League,” Zullo told Goal Australia.


“Speaking to the coach on the phone, you could tell straight away that he has a fantastic understanding of football but also a great ideology of how he wants to play and that fits in with my game perfectly, I think.”


“He wants to play a fast passing game with a lot of movement, fluid movement between players and, most importantly for me, two attacking backs.”


“So it was a huge part in why I decided to come back to Adelaide.”


Departure lounge: Iain Fyfe (released, signed for Mes Kerman, Persia), Iain Ramsay (signed for Melbourne Heart), Tomi Juric (signed for Western Sydney Wanderers), Evan Kostopoulos (released), Dario Vidosic (released, signed for FC Sion, Switzerland), Fabian Barbiero (released, signed for Croydon Kings, FFSA Super League), Sergio Van Dijk (released, signed for Persib Bandung, Indonesia)

Key loss: Dario Vidosic

The loss of Dario Vidosic to Swiss side FC Sion in pre-season is an untimely matter for the Reds. After a stellar 2012/2013 A-League season, Vidosic searched for greener pastures in Europe to cement his place in the Socceroos squad for Brazil. Losing Vidosic, who is a natural technician, has left many Reds fans upset and disappointed heading into the upcoming season. With Gombau attempting to implement Barca’s footballing philosophy, Vidosic was expected to develop further at the Reds and become one of the A-League’s elite attacking midfielders.

What to watch out for: A more attacking Adelaide line-up

New manager Josep Gombau has a mission and direction for Adelaide United, and he is determined to showcase his philosophy. Gombau wants the Reds to play with a set style of football, with the aim of teaching the players the “‘way he was taught” in his native Catalonia. So all eyes with be on the ‘4-3-3’ formation which focuses on a possession based game with clever movement between passes. This change of footballing philosophy is something Adelaide United; from the board, to the coaches, players and fans are all emphasising.

The biggest challenge the team face is adapting to the aforementioned philosophy in a short space of time. Pre-season has seen a focus on each defender learning to play out from the back. Every player has to execute each pass with efficiency. The ‘long ball’ is something of the past and defenders are the first attackers. Positive and risk taking football is complemented with short passing and patience. The midfield partnership of Steven Lustica and Marcelo Carrusca could indeed equate to the Barcelona duo of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Both midfielders will need to execute short and efficient passes, whilst looking for that gap to unlock opposing defences. Bruce Djite as the ‘false 9’ provides a medium through which the Red’s can penetrate the defence.

Indeed, changing the Red’s style of play is risky, however if pre-season form is anything to go by, Adelaide may be in for a successful season. No matter what happens, it’s an exciting season ahead for Adelaide.

The key player: Eugene Galekovic

It has become a formality for fans to expect club captain Eugene Galekovic to be a key player for Adelaide United this season. It takes a great goalkeeper to win silverware in football and the Reds are blessed to have one of the best between the sticks. Galekovic’s leadership and ability is second to none. The 4-3-3 formation under Gambau will see Galekovic become the first to turn defence into attack and his distribution will be vital for the success of the Reds.

The X-factor: Marcelo Carrusca

The Argentinian flavour at Adelaide United has and continues to provide some flare and excitement. Marcelo Carrusca is a technician who orchestrates the central midfield of the Reds. Building on from last season’s consistency, Carrusca is expected to thrive under the Gombau at Adelaide United. His balance, distribution, dribbling skills and his ability to score makes him the X Factor for the Reds.

What’s he still doing here? Cameron Watson

The 26-year-old has served the Reds well since signing initially as an injury replacement. However, it will be hard to see Watson featuring much in midfield this season. A proven right back, Watson will also face stiff competition to maintain a position in the starting XI.

Extra time:  It’s a big season ahead for Adelaide United: a new manager, a new footballing philosophy, new signings and a few big losses sees the club in an exciting position. For a club that has often under achieved at domestic level, season 2013/14 could be the season to seriously challenge for the A-League Championship. If the squad can maintain consistency and build on last season’s 4th position, Adelaide United could live up to its fans expectations.

Coopers Stadium should remain a fortress and consistency away from home is a priority should the team become a top three side. The two Spanish signings Isaias Sanchez and Sergio Cirio will provide European experience and technical ability. Tarek Elrich is a proven footballer at A-League level and can shore up the defence. Both Steven Lustica and Michael Zullo provide pace and creativity to an already skilled side.

The club has made these fantastic signings with an eye for silverware. However, the loss of Dario Vidosic will have a huge impact.

Financially, Adelaide are in good hands, having negotiated a deal with Veolia. All in all, this upcoming season promises so much. It’s now up to the club’s performances to do the talking.