Tactical Analysis: How the Western Sydney Wanderers defeated Adelaide United

The Western Sydney Wanderers’ emphatic win over Adelaide United in the Australia Cup 2023 Round of 16 was more than just a fluke performance. 

While the 5-1 scoreline may have flattered them slightly, they outplayed their opponents both in terms of individual quality and tactical cohesion, with Marko Rudan’s side putting up an immensely impressive, thoughtful performance. 

Both with and without the ball, the Wanderers remained in control of the match throughout the opening hour which saw them net all five goals and march onto the Quarter Finals of the Australia Cup. 

Wanderers’ domination without the ball

It is a common misconception that the team with the most possession is the team that controls the game.

But it is perfectly plausible to have command and dominance without possession, particularly when setting up such a cohesive, clever defensive structure to expose your opposition’s weaknesses, whether structural or individual.

The Wanderers did just this, exploiting the narrowness of Adelaide’s deep build-up play and cleverly setting pressing triggers to not just stifle Adelaide’s ability to move the ball forward but create chances of their own. 

Adelaide predominately operated in a 2-3 or 3-2 build-up structure, looking to move fullbacks inside.