Midfield dominance leads to Melbourne City demolition

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You didn’t need to be a genius to know that this was going to be a tough game for Perth Glory.

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Melbourne City are a perennial title contender looking to add to their collection of silverware whereas Perth on the other hand, last season’s wooden spooners are now at the beginning of a long rebuild.

But perhaps coach Ruben Zadkovich was not expecting that much of a drubbing from last season’s premiers. In the first half, Perth was able to maintain its structure in an effort to keep Melbourne City at bay. Nonetheless, City were always knocking on the door. They managed to hold onto 65% of the possession while firing away nine shots in the first half alone.

Putting that into perspective, Perth had one shot for the whole game. It was a rough game for Perth as they struggled to get out of their own half with the little possession they had and on the occasion they did they turned the ball over.

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This was mainly due to Melbourne City’s total control of the midfield, both Richard van der Venne and Aiden O’Neill were standouts.

Van der Venne making his first start for Melbourne City this season, fit right in with his ability to play the box-to-box midfielder role and link up with fellow import signing Valon Berisha. Van der Venne tended to drift into the left half space to create overloads with left-winger Mat Leckie, the Dutchman ended the game with a pass accuracy rating of 86%.

O’Neill also was a key part of City’s midfield, operating as a single pivot, he was a key aerial threat in Melbourne City’s half winning two out of three aerial duels. O’Neill also was accurate with his passing which certainly helped whenever Melbourne City were able to regain possession in their midfield. From there O’Neill or Van der Venne were ready to start a counterattack.

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When asked about Melbourne City’s midfield performance, Patrick Kisnorbo was quick to offer up his thoughts.

“I think if you look at our midfield, they work really hard, they get to where they need to be,” Kisnorbo said

“We talk about behaviours in our team and their behaviours are fantastic, so we are very fortunate to have them in our team.

“They work every day like that so it’s not by coincidence, it’s just by determination and hard work.”

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For Zadkovich, the mid-season World Cup break could not come at a better time for his squad.

Post-game he spoke about the need for a mental refresh having now lost four of the last five.

“When you have away games five times in a row, there’s a cumulative loading as well for the players – mentally, physically, emotionally. It starts to take its toll,” said Zadkovich.

“The care I have got for my playing group and staff is huge, they deserve to have a little freshen-up and a break for a week or so to recuperate their bodies and minds.”

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With Perth Glory not likely to have any players going to the World Cup they are able to treat this break as another pre-season to help work on what they want to improve for the rest of the season.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City

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Caydn Foley
Football Fanatic. Journalism student hoping to make this a career. Covering Melbourne City for the 22/23 A-Leagues season.

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