After what feels like an eternity, the A-League Men competition is back for another season.
From wet weather to colossal collisions to great goals, the opening round had it all, and The Inner Sanctum is here to take you through the good and the bad.
Melbourne City vs. Western United
Good: A Berisha the entire league can cheer for
Valon Berisha has made an almost immediate impact on the A-League Men competition, standing out in a Melbourne City side that is absolutely stacked with talent.
His on-field performance was something to behold, and his post-match interview might have turned him into a cult hero.
Unlike Besart Berisha, who was much more of a divisive figure depending on whether he played for your team or not, Valon could very well be one of the most-liked players in the league.
Bad: Leo Lacroix headlines a poor Western United defence
A very poor defensive performance, headlined by an own goal for Lacroix, meant Western United’s championship defence did not get off to the best of starts, suffering a 2-1 loss to City.
Speaking post-game, John Aloisi emphasised that it was just one game.
If Western United want to go back-to-back, it needs to only be one game, or else it could be a very long season for Aloisi’s side.
Brisbane Roar vs. Macarthur FC
Good: Attacking talent was aplenty
Both sides were full of attacking talent at Suncorp Stadium, with a number of chances being created across the 90 minutes.
With the likes of Charlie Austin and Joe Knowles for the Roar and Anthony Carter, Al Hassan Toure, Daniel Arzani, and Daniel De Silva for Macarthur, it is no surprise this game was full of chances.
However, the number of chances created might have been amplified by our next point;
Bad: Poor defence on both sides
The defence on both sides left a lot to be desired, directly creating a number of chances for the opposition, including a shock miss from Carter, who had a completely wide open net to shoot at.
Both sides are going to be very dangerous on the attack, but they will need to tighten up the back-line to find success this season.
Otherwise, it could be a lot of needing to outscore the opposition to find victories, and that is all good until the goal scoring dries up.
Central Coast Mariners vs. Newcastle Jets
Good: The crowd who turned up
A spectacular crowd turned up to Gosford in an F3 Derby to kick-off the season.
Bad: They turned up for nought
Unfortunately, because of the torrential rain that has been battering Australia’s east coast, the game was postponed as the pitch was completely unplayable.
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Sydney FC vs. Melbourne Victory
Good: The Big Blue delivers on return to Moore Park
Despite the rain and a very slippery pitch, the Big Blue provided a fantastic five-goal thriller for Sydney FC’s return to the Sydney Football Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Sky Blues, it was a 3-2 loss after they took an early lead, conceded two, found an equaliser through James Donachie, then had to watch as ex-Sky Blue Joshua Brillante deliver the final blow. This was all while referee Chris Beath was finding his feet after colliding with Rhyan Grant.
The stadium provided for a fantastic atmosphere, and should be good for Sydney this season as the club looks to rebuild after missing the finals last year.
Bad: Fan behaviour
It is unfortunate that the end of the game was marred by a number of fans throwing bottles at Victory goalkeeper Paul Izzo late into stoppage time.
Thankfully Izzo was not injured, and he even decided to take a drink out of one of them (COVID is not a thing anymore right?)
The behaviour was rightly lambasted by leadership from The Cove, and hopefully this disgusting behaviour is not a regular occurrence this season across the league.
Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United
Good: All aboard the Waine Train
The Waine Train is back in full force for the Nix as they returned home to the ‘Cake Tin’, their home of Sky Stadium.
After being down to 10 men for a significant chunk of the match, the Phoenix managed to hit on the counter attack and make a wasteful Adelaide side pay despite the player advantage.
While Adelaide struck back late to equalise, costing Wellington the win at home to open the season, things look good for the Phoenix as they return for their first full season at home.
Bad: Yan Sasse’s red card
The tackle that had Sasse seeing red and being sent off in the 25th minute was very ugly and a textbook red card.
While not intentional by any stretch of the imagination, there should not be any complaints about it. Unfortunately for Wellington, a new signing will have to wait at least another week on the sidelines before being able to make an impact.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Perth Glory
Good: The optimism that comes with a new season
The Wanderers fans and the RBB had reason to cheer at the start of a new season.
With plenty of new signings, 14000 members, and a renewed sense of hope, those who made their way to the Western Sydney Stadium were rewarded for their efforts and support with a late victory.
If this side gets off to a good start under Marko Rudan, the crowds will return, and might help spur on the Wanderers to a season that they haven’t seen since leaving Parramatta years ago.
Bad: That first half
Neither side got off to a good start in that game during the opening 45 minutes. If you missed the first half, you did not miss anything of note.
Perhaps expected given the turnover of these squads and the fact neither side played in the Australia Cup, it was still a disappointment and hopefully a rare occurrence throughout the upcoming season.
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