Loads of pundits, myself included, had the Crows returning to finals – and even the highest 4 – this season after the catastrophe that was 2018.
And whereas the primary of these issues seems to be seemingly, and the second attainable, this isn’t the Adelaide staff I used to be anticipating.
The free-flowing nuclear-powered Crows of 2017 are however a distant reminiscence. They’ve been changed by a staff that extra carefully resembles Neil Craig’s Crowbots of the mid-2000s.
They’re stodgy, disciplined and deliberate. All the enjoyment has been sucked out of them. Effectively, apart from Eddie Betts. You’ll be able to’t take the enjoyment out of Betts; he’s pleasure.
This Crows facet remains to be a superb one, it’s simply not very inspiring. They don’t really feel like a top-four staff – although, to be truthful – few do that yr.
These Cats really feel very very like a top-four staff and are the deserving premiership favourites.
Regardless of final week’s slip-up, which price them their second lack of the yr, Chris Scott’s staff is the highest-scoring staff this yr and has conceded the fewest factors.
Simply how they stack up towards the very best groups of latest instances is a debate for one more day, however they’re clearly the category of this season to this stage.
What they do extraordinarily effectively is create good pictures at purpose, whereas on the similar time forcing their opponents into powerful ones. Presently, 60 per cent of their scoring pictures are targets – you need to return to the 2004 Saints, who at 62 per cent are the final staff to complete the home-and-away rounds at 60 or higher.
The compound their benefit, their opponents are getting a purpose from solely 45 per cent of their scores. The web consequence, is that from 49 additional scoring pictures, Geelong have outscored their opponents by 393 factors. That’s rather a lot.
The Crows, too, are sturdy defensively. And just like the Cats, their opponents are getting a purpose from simply 45 per cent of their pictures. In truth, these sides are first and second in relation to conceding targets from inside-50s – Geelong are greatest at 18 per cent and Adelaide second at 19 per cent.
Port Adelaide confirmed the formulation to beat Geelong per week in the past. The Energy had been +36 in contested possessions, +16 clearances and +12 inside-50s – OK, I suppose that type of dominance is the formulation that beats most groups.
Nonetheless, the Crows must win the competition and territory battle in the event that they’re to be any likelihood tonight.
Rory Sloane and the Brothers Crouch will again themselves towards Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly and whoever else out of Joel Selwood, Cam Guthrie, Luke Dahlhaus and Brandan Parfitt finds themselves searching the footy in shut.
It’s on the surface although the place the Cats look extra harmful. Mitch Duncan, Gary Ablett and the aforementioned Kelly are all surgeons with the ball, and Tom Stewart and Zach Tuohy are sensible out of defence.
Ablett is at the moment averaging 20.eight disposals and two targets a recreation. It’s nice to see him enjoying nice footy once more in video games that matter.
He’s on monitor to develop into the primary participant since Steve Johnson in 2011 to common 20 disposals and two targets a recreation for a whole season – Michael Walters can also be trending that means.
Adelaide want the likes of Rory Atkins, Brodie Smith and Paul Seedsman to play effectively and be sensible with their kicks into assault on the slender GMHBA Stadium.
Geelong have made a pair of adjustments after their loss with Lachie Fogarty and Jed Bews coming in for the dropped Darcy Fort and concussed Gary Rohan.
They’ve named Mark Blicavs within the ruck, which is unlikely and can be an odd alternative contemplating he’s in All Australian type as a key defender. However there’s no apparent second ruck to Rhys Stanley, who’s been named to start out on the bench.
Why can we proceed with this charade?
Adelaide have made three adjustments to the staff that beat Richmond earlier than their bye.
Bryce Gibbs is again for his first recreation since Spherical 11, and is joined by Elliott Himmelberg and debutant Ben Davis. Out of the facet go three vital gamers in Josh Jenkins, Wayne Milera and the underrated Cam Ellis-Yolmen. With Tom Lynch already out of the facet, they give the impression of being very skinny for attacking choices.
It’s been 16 years since Adelaide gained in Geelong. They’ve misplaced their previous ten matches at Kardinia Park, and I can’t see that altering tonight.
Geelong by 5 targets.
That’s my Friday evening forecast. What’s yours?