Westfield FFA Cup Final's tactical battle: Arnie v Kurz
It will ultimately be the players that will decide whether Sydney FC or Adelaide United win this year’s Westfield FFA Cup final but the battle of the coaches will be just as important.
In the Sky Blue corner there’s Graham Arnold, master tactician and excellent man-manager.
And in the red corner there’s German Marco Kurz, who has instilled a real mental toughness in Adelaide United and impressing in his first season in Australia.
While they are different in their approaches, there are plenty of similarities too.
Both leave no stone unturned in planning, love the tactical battle and are driven by winning big matches and trophies.
Given their record and performances over the last 18 months - and having home ground advantage – Sydney FC will start slight favourites on November 21.
The job Arnold has done moulding his side into the machine they are has been phenomenal. Every player knows their job and executes it every week.
With a solid base in midfield provided by O’Neill and Brillante, with the class of Ninkovic, Mierzejewski and Brosque, the Sky Blues love to build up their play through midfield and use their fullbacks to get forward and provide the width.
But Arnold is also tactically adaptable. If things aren’t working he’s not afraid to change things up.
It’s what makes the Sky Blues so tough to beat. And Arnold will be desperate to finish the job in the Westfield FFA Cup, having lost last year’s decider to Melbourne City.
He’s won everything as a manager in the Hyundai A-League, the only thing missing is the FFA Cup.
But what about his counter-part from Adelaide? Kurz has made an immediate impact in the City of Churches.
He has instilled a real discipline and physical hardness – thanks to a pre-season built on double training sessions each day – which has them at peak fitness and finishing games strongly.
His side’s style though is a little different to the way the Sky Blues play.
Utilising the speed and quality of his front three, Adelaide like to play the ball forward much quicker, especially in transition.
Kurz, who won promotion to the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern in 2009, has made them ruthless, direct and instilled a never-say-die mentality.
It’s a real contrast in styles but one thing you can be sure of is both sides will be ultra-prepared come kick-off at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday, November 21.
The clash on the pitch will be a cracker, but the battle of the benches will be just as absorbing.