Adelaide United will try to pass Melbourne Victory into submission at Coopers Stadium on Friday night with Josep Gombau’s Spanish revolution taking shape.
You’re going to hear the phrase “tiki-taka” a fair bit this season. And that’s all because of Adelaide and its new coach, Josep Gombau with his fresh game style.
Tiki-taka, as defined by the wondrous source of Wikipedia, is “a style of play in football characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels and maintaining possession.”
It’s a style typically associated with Spanish football, namely Barcelona, a club Gombau shares a special relationship with.
Josep Gombau’s aim is simple. He wants his side to play the same short-passing, possession-based game, whether it is at home or away, winning or losing.
If repetition brings familiarity and ultimately effectiveness, then the Reds, who have only had Gombau at the helm for a few months, are just a short way down the road their Spanish master hopes they will travel.
The 37-year-old turned his hand to coaching at the age of 16 after giving up on trying to make it as a player.
He went on to spend six years managing Barca’s youth team.
So it is no surprise that he has brought to South Australia a determination to transform the Reds in to a lean, mean, passing machine.
”Barcelona is the No.1 team in the world and it’s difficult to play like them because they have the best players in the world,” he says.
”But we will try to play that style, keeping the ball, passing the ball, with the players we have here. Our style will have to be Adelaide style. I want us to play every game the same way. It doesn’t matter if we are in front or behind, at home or away. If we do the right things we will get the results.”
And the results so far have been pretty.
In the last three games of its pre-season the club had two wins and a draw against A-League opposition which transferred in to a 3-1 opening round win over Perth at home.
Adelaide completed 311 passes to Perth’s 266. The difference between the two would have been even wider _ as would the 52-48 possession percentage _ had Adelaide not been reduced to 10 men with 14 minutes remaining and nine men three minutes later.
Interestingly Fox Sports stats reveal it was Victory who led the way in terms of completed passes for the first round with 524 (at an accuracy of 87.2 per cent) but that was largely to do with the way their opponents, Melbourne Heart, sat back and allowed them to hold on to possession.
Ange Postecoglou’s men will have no such luxury on Friday night as the Reds try to take hold of the midfield battle.
In doing so Gombau will ensure defender Jon McKain – who attempted 66 passes with a success rate of 83.3 per cent against the Glory – and left back Michael Zullo _-74 touches against the Glory – get forward to drive the Reds attack as much as possible.
The pair was instrumental in Adelaide’s third goal against Perth on Sunday, in which the Reds maintained possession for 43 seconds and passed the ball 11 times through five different players before Zullo took on a defender a swung in a pinpoint cross to Fabio Ferreira to score.
© 2013 Herald Sun | This article was written by Matt Windley and first appeared in the Herald Sun on 16 October 2013.