It is without doubt the game of the year. It is the money game with real consequences for both teams. Whoever wins the grand final will have less consequence. It may be the biggest game the A-League has had in terms of consequences.
For the Roar, they are at this point for the second year in a row. The ACL in Melbourne and Brisbane could generate the interest to make the A-League. This year they have a much, much better team and they are playing the type of game that the FFA is endorsing for the next generation of Socceroos. Whether they could do three in a row to give themselves another shot if they loose tomorrow is a real question mark. However, next years increased competition is a 2 edged sword. It reduces the overall odds of success. But the 36 (23 - 5 foreign x 2) new 'Australian citizen only' spots have weakened virtually all teams except the Roar and Melbourne. And there is some chance that these two will now dominate. Unless Gold Coast win everything - I'd sign up for that not happening right now.
The Roar men have not won a significant trophy. They and their fans know that. However, they have only lost one of their last 10 games and that was to Melbourne. This is a very different side to the one that struggled in the first half of the season with Reinaldo playing injured up front with Tim Smits.
For Adelaide, it is possible that the fate of the club hangs on the result of this game. Given that the owner has publicly stated that the club is for sale, and we know the impact that the financial crisis is now having on the construction market, I am surprised that the Adelaide sale is making little more than minor throw-away lines in A-League coverage. If Adelaide qualify for the ACL the club is worth substantially more than if they do not. All players and coaching staff will be concerned about what a new owner may mean.
The players who are already leaving Adelaide will be desparate to leave on a high. Sasa Ognenovski in particular has been tackling very much like Danny Tiatto. And has been lucky to only have 2 cards to his name. In the last 2 games his assignment has been Kevin Muscat. I wonder whether tomorrow his assignment will be Danny Tiatto. Are we heading for a really ugly outcome? Jonas Salley is playing too. He doesn't mind a bit of biff and his lack of match fitness may lead him in that direction. Interestingly, the Roar played last week better without Tiatto, with Seo putting in his best game for a long time - he even forced a save from one of his legendary long shots. Sadly, Frank Farina's claim that Danny is targeted by refs and can not do or say anything, is starting to lead to the conclusion that there may be other options. Surely any blow-up in this match would be the last straw. Yet in the games where he has been calm he has also seemed to disappear. Still, if you go a goal down it is Danny that gets the team back up.
The meetings between the teams this year - the only relevant match-ups - are a win to Adelaide and two draws. The Roar had the better of the last 0-0 at Hindmarsh. The Roar will have to do plenty to win against a partisan crowd and a team that is still the best in the A-League at their game - the defensive grind-out-a-result that John Kosmina taught them.
Both teams will be desperate to win. Desperate not to lose. Perhaps the more desperate will blow a fuse, cop a red and lose? The ref, Strebre Delovski, will have a say on how it all pans out. How quickly will yellow cards be handed out? What do the press reports of the Roar prepared to win ugly mean?