FFA Cup Match Preview: Floreat Athena v Adelaide United

After holding the FFA Cup for longer than anyone has before, Adelaide United head west to finally kick off their title defence against Floreat Athena. 

In the second NPL versus A-League contest of the 2021 Final Rounds a historic first will take place, as E & D Litis Stadium hosts the first ever Round of 32 fixture taking place on a weekend.

With kick off scheduled for 1pm local time (3pm AEST) on Sunday, a healthy turnout is expected to help inspire a home side who will need to pull off a 'Cupset' for the ages, if they are to secure their first taste of the Round of 16. 

How to watch the FFA Cup in 2021

There is no doubting Adelaide United's label as Cup specialists. 

They stand alone as three-time winners, including the inaugural tournament in 2014 and previous two editions in 2018 and 2019. 

Having made four finals out of six, the Reds' expectations are set naturally high heading into the new campaign. 

Still in the midst of pre-season, Carl Veart's side will be without a few key figures from the side that finished within 90 minutes of the A-League Grand Final last time out - with the likes of Tomi Juric, Jordan Elsey and Ryan Strain all having departed. 

In their place, return some familiar faces in George Blackwood and club legend Isaías Sánchez - who knows exactly what it takes to achieve Cup success. 

Isaías has two FFA Cup trophies to his name, including the first in 2014, and will be hoping to hit the ground running as he commences his second stint for the club he has already made 181 appearances for. 

Isaisas brushes aside Wayne Brown of Jets in the Reds' 1-0 win at Marden
Isaías in FFA Cup action for the Reds back in 2017

While taking on the Cup holders in the Round of 32 is a frightening prospect, they have once been on the receiving end of a memorable boilover - when Redlands of Queensland knocked out the Reds back in 2016. 

Their feats are exactly what Floreat Athena will be looking to replicate on the weekend, as the NPL Western Australia outfit enter the Final Rounds for the third time in their history. 

Both attempts previously have ended in defeat: 4-3 to Adelaide Olympic in 2019 and 2-1 to Melbourne City in 2016.

But just a few weeks after the club officially celebrated their 70th anniversary, their squad will give everything to mark a new occasion for the history books. 

Floreat Athena, Melbourne City.
Floreat Athena's first Round of 32 encounter in 2016 saw them suffer a narrow defeat to Melbourne City

Athena recently finished as runners-up on the NPL table, and in the Grand Final, so will be out to give their fans a knockout fixture to remember. 

This season, Christopher Saldaris led the way in attack with 10 goals, and shapes as an important part of their plans to take down the Reds, while at the other end of the park his older brother Jason, formerly of South Melbourne, will be looking to put on a show between the sticks. 

While it won't be the easiest afternoon of their careers, the duo and their teammates, will step out onto their home turf determined to seal a place in club, and FFA Cup history against a juggernaut who have achieved more success in the competition than anyone else. 

So for the first time, sit back, relax and be sure to tune in for some Magic of the Cup on your Sunday afternoon: live and free via 10 play. 

Floreat Athena v Adelaide United
Sunday 26 September, 1pm local, 3pm AEST
Venue: E & D Litis Stadium, Perth
Broadcast: Live & free via 10 play
Tickets: Buy here