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Tough tasks for Melbourne and Newcastle

This weekend will see the second legs of the A-League major and minor semi-finals and the home teams this time around Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets, know that only victory will be good enough to progress to the grand final and preliminary final respectively.

Newcastle lost 2-1 to Sydney FC in the first leg and the positives on their part are that they played very well in the second half and scored the all-important away goal and should they pick up from where they left last weekend and score another goal then they could see themselves in the preliminary final.

Newcastle's away goal means a 1-nil win will do but on the other hand Sydney only need a draw to advance or if they lose by a one goal margin after scoring more than one goal then they will still be okay using the away goals rule. This means a 3-2 or 4-3 loss for Sydney FC will still be good enough to carry them through for example.

On the other hand Newcastle need to win and should Sydney FC score only a two goal winning margin will give passage to the next stage with a 2-1 victory resulting in a penalty shoot-out. Not so long ago Sydney FC went to Queensland only needing a draw and they got it and I think they will do so again on Friday.

Turning now to the Melbourne/Adelaide match, Adelaide should have scored given the numerous chances that they had at Hindmarsh Stadium in the first leg. Melbourne decided to play an ultra defensive game and had very few attempts on goal but at the end of the day they had no choice because the team lacked creativity and penetration even when they had the ball.

The worrying thing for Adelaide though is that despite all their dominance both in territory and possession they had very few clear cut chances. Shots from outside the area were never going to give Michael Theoklitos, the Melbourne goalkeeper, a problem.

Adelaide got so many corner kicks as a result of their pressure but they failed to get any mileage from them. None of them caused Michael Theoklitos problems and I expected them to change the way they took them but they never did and Theoklitos just easily clutched the ball before any of the Adelaide attackers got their bodies to it.

Despite all that, Adelaide for me will go into the second leg as favourites because Melbourne will have to change a lot of things in order to make an imprint in the second leg. The Melbourne midfield was easily overrun by Adelaide and the few counter attacks that were launched didn't cause many problems for the astute Adelaide defence and Archie Thompson and Danny Allsop were lone figures upfront lacking supply.

I don't think Melbourne wanted to play a defensive game because in that case Merrick would have gone with something like a 4-5-1 formation but he went for a 4-4-2 formation. I think it boils down to the fact that on the day Adelaide were far much better and easily outplayed Melbourne.

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