x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Adelaide are living with the big spenders

Australian side are the surprise package and coach Vidmar gets the most out of his limited resources by using "controlled aggression".

Aurelio Vidmar, the Adelaide United coach, has taken his side to the last 16 of the ACL.
Aurelio Vidmar, the Adelaide United coach, has taken his side to the last 16 of the ACL.

The Pohang Steelers are the reigning champions of Asia and the salary of Mota, their Brazilian striker, is greater than that of the Adelaide United squad combined. Yet, it is the Australians who are leading Group H of the Champions League (ACL), ahead of their richer rivals and they have booked a place in the last 16 with a game to spare.

The man responsible for inspiring the team to their second foray into the knockout stages of the tournament in three attempts is Aurelio Vidmar - with a little help from Jose Mourinho. "Obviously, there is a much higher calibre of players [at other clubs]," Vidmar told goal.com. "But you have a look at Inter [Milan]: they were camped in their own half for the last 20 minutes with [centre-forward Samuel] Eto'o defending in front of his own box [in their 3-1 semi-final first-leg victory in Europe's Champions League last week at home to Barcelona].

"They made it very difficult for Barcelona to play in any open space and then hit them very quickly on the break. A coach like [Jose] Mourinho does that very well, whereas Barcelona are a completely different side who want to take the game to you and press high up the park. "But Inter denied them the space and it's not that dissimilar to the way we try to play in this competition. "They [the other clubs] have massive squads and even their second or third eleven can do a fantastic job. When you look at things like that it really puts it into perspective. What we've done, what we've achieved in getting into the round of 16 has been tremendous."

The Australian manager, who moved up from his role as assistant manager in 2007, has been able to get the most out of his limited resources by using "controlled aggression" with the 2008 finalists hitting opponents on the counter attack. This year, they boast a win and a draw against the Steelers, and a victory over both Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan and China's Shandong Luneng. Adelaide host the Chinese side in their final group game today while the Steelers are away in Japan, and there is every chance of Vidmar's men finishing top of their group.

"We do a lot of tactical sessions up against what we think the opposition are going to play and we've done that throughout every campaign and have been pretty spot on," added Vidmar. "We haven't gone into one game saying 'Oh, they've changed the formation', we're pretty much on top of it and prepare accordingly. "We haven't been surprised with any of the games. I think the second campaign we had the opportunity to get there a day earlier and we watched Pohang live, video-taped it as well, showed the team.

"Now what you get from the DVDs is pretty much spot on: we know every player, we know formations, we know what they're doing at set pieces and rarely from our experiences have they changed. "You can't make too many mistakes because in the Asian Champions League if you do make a mistake, nine times out of 10 you'll get punished. "So we had to be a little bit more clean in terms of what we're doing with the ball, in terms of possession and making sure the passes stick in the right spots. Sometimes you can get away with that in the A-League [Australia's top division], but unfortunately in the ACL you can't."

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi, with agencies