Gold Stars and Red Cards – Wanderers vs Melbourne Victory (2019/20 Rd2)

A-League 2019/20 Round 2 vs Melbourne Victory 18/10/2019 Marvel Stadium
2-1 Win

New season, new format to disassociate from shameless appropriators. Welcome to ⭐ Gold Stars (good) and 📕 Red Cards (bad) as I look at a historic night in Melbourne.

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Formation Changes
Apparently Babbel left it to the last minute to reveal the change in formation publicly, letting Victory believe we’d be playing the same formation as last week, as the graphic above suggests. Did this screw the Victory preparation? Did it give us an advantage? Who is to say. What it does mean though, is that Babbel is crafting a team that can adapt to different systems depending on the opponent. He has mentioned this in the weeks leading up to the season, but we’ve seen it now within the first 2 rounds. If the players can switch systems that quickly, it bodes well to us keeping the opposition on their toes and changing things up when required.
I don’t highlight them below, but again Schwegler and Lopar had great games and will be key all season for us.

Slow Start, But Grew Into Half
First 10 minutes was all Victory. We barely touched the ball or could string any passes together. It felt like it was going to be a long night and an all too familiar one in Melbourne. But then we started to slowly build momentum and confidence and started taking control of the match. Ending the half at 0-0 didn’t reflect some of the dominant periods we had and I’m sure many WSW fans were concerned we were going to see a similar results we saw for the last few years – dominate but have nothing to show for it.

Baccus Bomb
This kid knows how to score from outside the box. Asked to sit a little higher in the midfield he didn’t have the best first half but like the whole team, really stepped up a notch in the second. The entire lead up to the goal was great to watch. The ball over the top, Adam’s smart cut back to the open space for Baby Baccus to hit the ball under no pressure and curl it into the top corner. Awesome to see our young products combine to put us into the lead.

Meier was unlucky not to get a goal in the first half. It was obvious the defenders and Thomas stopped as soon as the whistle blew for a foul, but his technique was on show.
And he got to show it again in the second half with a great one touch chip from way out of the box. You’d think most other A-League players would opt for power in that situation but Meier used all his class to find the back of the net from that distance. There’s definitely more to come from him but to see him get off the mark so early in the campaign can only be a good thing. He also played the entire game, so his fitness should get up to speed soon.

📕New Handball Rule
I know it was to our benefit last week. But this new handball rule is going to mean so many penalties throughout the season. What is McGowen to do in that situation. Point blank header into his hand. The penalty changed the momentum of the game completely. Prior to it, Victory didn’t look like scoring at all. But the penalty gave them a lifeline and they pushed us back into our box for the last 15 minutes.

Desperate Defending
This was old school Wanderers. Players putting their bodies on the line, scrambling like crazy to keep the opposition out. Its was nervy as anything for us but the players dug in and fired each other up after every successful defence of the goal. Last season we lose that game. This season the #mentality was there to see. This is a different Wanderers collective, one that will work for each other to the bitter end. Its what we’ve been lacking for years.

Drought Broken
Six and a half years. February 2013. That was the last time we won in Melbourne vs Victory. It was in our Season 1!! La Rocca and Ono scored in front a massive away contingent. How the hell we haven’t won in Melbourne since then, in a salary capped league is astounding. It was a ridiculous stat and one that I’m glad we can see the back of. We deserved to win this game. We were the better side for most of it and only the penalty brought Melbourne into the contest. We held them out for a historic win and didn’t the players know it. Their celebrations highlighted the feeling amongst the group. This team can go places this season. And we still have a few players to come into the squad. We can only get better. First time ever we’ve won the opening 2 games.
Now do it again and win next week in another fixture we’ve been lacking in for years.

See you space cowboy…

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