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FINALS: Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix preview

The first of the knockout finals of the 2010/11 A-League season begins tonight with Adelaide United hosting the Wellington Phoenix.

The New Zealand club got one up on the Reds just two weeks ago with a 1-0 win at Hindmarsh Stadium which is the venue for this encounter.

Admittedly, the Reds were off the boil in that fixture and I expect them to put in a much more confident display, especially after the impressive performance to defeat arch rivals Melbourne Victory last Friday.

Sergio van Dijk and Cassio return to the line-up tonight - two massive ins for Rini Coolen - after midfielder Paul Reid walked out on the club yesterday.

In the Phoenix camp, skipper Andrew Durante will slot straight back into central defence as he returns from suspension whilst star striker Paul Ifill will likely come off the bench when a goal is needed and midfielder Vince Lia could also be included.

A potential key for Wellington is teenage winger Marco Rojas, who has been supplying the delivery frequently in the past couple of months, so it will be interesting to see how he handles finals pressure.

Ricki Herbert has instilled a confidence in his playing group but I feel that record on the road will be their undoing and Adelaide will edge a victory and move into the next phase of the playoffs.

Verdict: Reds 2-1

Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix - Knockout finalDate: Friday, 18 February 2011 Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Local kick-off: 7:30pm (8.00pm AEDT) Referee: Jarred Gillett Head-to-Head: All matches (played 12): Adelaide United wins 5, Wellington Phoenix wins 3 (4 draws) Match facts: - This will be Adelaide United's 12th Hyundai A-League final series match, a new record for most finals matches for any team. MOST FINALS MATCHES leading in to 2011 finals series 11 Adelaide United 11 Newcastle Jets 11 Sydney FC 9 Central Coast Mariners 9 Melbourne Victory

- While the Wellington Phoenix have won just one of their past eight away matches, that victory was against Adelaide United, a one-nil win on 5 February 2011.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD and Sky Sports 2 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is ABC Digital Adelaide and The Radio Network Wellington. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au

Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andy SLORY, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Dario BODRUSIC, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 19.Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR In: CASSIO (returns from injury), Sergio VAN DIJK (returns from injury) Out: Paul REID (omitted) Unavailable: Daniel MULLEN (knee - season), Joe COSTA (knee - season), Joe KEENAN (leg - season), Fabian BARBIERO (ankle - season)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3 Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15, Jade NORTH, 17 Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC, 20. Reece CROWTHER, 21, Marco ROJAS, 22, Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER In: Paul IFILL (returning from injury), Vince LIA (returning from injury), Andrew DURANTE (returning from suspension). Out: James MUSA (omitted), Mirjan PAVLOVIC (omitted). Unavailable: Leo BERTOS (groin - season), Mark PASTON (leg - season), Oscar Roberto Cornejo (groin - 3 weeks)

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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