Victory coach Kevin Muscat should not go without recognition here either, but Friday’s match was football at its purest, primarily because of his counterpart.
As highlighted before the match, Rudan and Wellington embraced the risk involved in pressing Victory during the regular season, proving to be a viable ploy.
Muscat certainly adjusted to that formational susceptibility, moving Raul Baena to the base of Victory’s midfield diamond in possession and deploying Elvis Kamsoba on the left, while Carl Valeri and Corey Brown were left out of the starting lineup. In Brown’s place, Leigh Broxham started at left-back.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
Although Muscat avoided specifics on his own adjustments, they were at least acknowledged.
“Without going into too much detail, naturally, we made some changes to personnel,” he said post-match. “Based on how we wanted to play and analysing both ourselves and the opposition, we felt it was the right game and moment for him [Kamsoba].”
With Max Burgess starting for the Phoenix, however, Sarpreet Singh’s potential replenishment of energy and technical ability to decide a match loomed large as a second-half substitution.
Randomness had its inevitable say, though, and changed the match’s complexion. Williams heavy touch in the 42nd minute leads to a committed challenge, and despite getting the ball first, creates a situation where referee Shaun Evans can call for a foul.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
This leads to Niedermeier’s goal from a set piece on the stroke of half-time, enabling Muscat’s formation change at half-time to the 4-2-3-1 he knows and trusts in finals football. It was pragmatic and arguably more in line with the A-League’s tactical orthodoxy, but given the circumstances, justifiable.
Following Mandi’s cheap loss of possession, allowing the exceptional Ola Toivonen to assist Kosta Barbarouses for 2-0 in the 53rd minute, Rudan adjusted even further. Singh came on for the defensively-minded Mandi and shifted Burgess to deeper in midfield, creating a positive and necessary change in tempo for the Phoenix.
Despite Victory’s formation change, that variation of tempo in Phoenix possession was impactful, leading to Krishna pulling a goal back in the 64th minute. Toivonen’s class shone through on the counter, with a sublime chip over Filip Kurto in the 71st minute, eliminating any momentum the Phoenix gained.
It was another finals game where Victory’s individual quality took advantage in transition, but Muscat was arguably made to work much harder for it from a coaching standpoint. Even so, Rudan’s approach and adjustments put the Phoenix in best possible position to win the game and within varying complexions.