Words by Taylor Harvey
Campbelltown City v Adelaide Blue Eagles
Fri 22, Steve Woodcock Sports Centre, 7.30pm KO
Adelaide Blue Eagles return to the South Australian top flight will see them match up against reigning National Premier League champions Campbelltown City on Friday night.
The Blue Eagles have bolstered their squad during the off-season, with the signing of former Serie A forward Emanuele Testardi, a clear signal of intent that the club isn’t looking to make up the numbers in 2019.
Campbelltown City, on the other hand, will go into the new season as the ‘hunted’, with the rest of the competition looking to knock them off their perch.
The club has added to their already strong list and looks poised to mount a strong title defence after signing former Adelaide United defender Daniel Mullen from A-League club Wellington Phoenix.
Adelaide Comets v West Adelaide
Sat 23, Jack Smith Park,5pm KO
Adelaide Comets will look to improve on their third-place finish in last year’s standings as they host West Adelaide on Saturday afternoon.
Comets perhaps made one of the biggest signings of the off-season, with Spaniard Jon Aurtenetxe joining the club, with the defender bringing over 70 appearances of La Liga experience to the club.
Adelaide Comets aren’t the only team to make big-name signings, as West Adelaide has significantly strengthened their midfield with the addition of former Adelaide United legend and playmaker Marcelo Carrusca.
Para Hills v MetroStars
Sat 23, The Paddocks, 3pm KO
Para Hill Knights face a tough match-up for their opening game of the season as they host potential title contenders MetroStars on Saturday afternoon.
After finishing six points away from relegated Sturt Lions, Para Hills will be looking to improve and steer clear of a potential relegation dogfight.
A lack of recognized signings in the off-season will see the club rely on Best & Fairest Matthew Marchioro and leading scorer Andrew Butler.
On the other hand, MetroStars will be looking to go one step further in 2019, as they are set to challenge reigning champions Campbelltown City for the National Premier League title.
The club has been quiet when it comes to off-season signings, with the Klemzig based club looking to rely heavily on the squad that reached the Semi-Finals in 2018, which includes the likes of Golden Boot winner Christian Esposito.
Raiders v Adelaide United FC
Sat 23, Croatian Sports Centre, 3pm KO
Recently promoted Adelaide Croatia Raiders will look make an instant impact on their return the National Premier League, as they host Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon.
2016 was the last time the Raiders featured in the National Premier League and after a strong season in State League 1, the club will be looking to cement themselves as a competitive club in the top flight.
Aaron Acton was the leading goal scorer for the club last season with 12 goals, with the attacker looking to replicate his output at top-flight level.
Adelaide United is coming off a strong season in which they finished fourth and gave plenty of opportunities to their youth products, with players like Carlo Armiento featuring at A-League level.
Adelaide City v Croydon Kings
Sat 23, Adelaide City Park, 7pm KO
2018 runners-up Adelaide City will look go one step better in 2019 as they look to get their season off to a strong start when they host Croyden Kings on Saturday night.
The addition of former Adelaide United midfielder and Johnny Warren Medallist Marcos Flores will provide an instant improvement in the attacking third.
Deployed as an attacking playmaker, Flores will hope to improve the output of the players around him, with players like Anthony Costa looking to improve on his 17 goals last season.
Croyden narrowly missed relegation on goal difference and will look avoid the drop again this season.
The Kings brought in some much-needed reinforcements during the off-season, with former Adelaide United goalkeeper John Hall likely to make an immediate impact.
Olympic v South Adelaide
Sat 23, VALO Football Centre, 7pm KO
To conclude the first round of competition, Adelaide Olympic will look to improve on a season which saw them reach last year’s finals series, as they host South Adelaide on Saturday night.
Olympic has made a couple of smart signings over the off-season to improve the overall depth of their squad, with players like defender Paul Espina from Club Atlético Huracán young striker John Karatzas from West Adelaide and Matt Halliday from Adelaide City.
South Adelaide languished at the bottom half of the National Premier League table in 2018, but the loss of their leading scorer, David Thornton, will hurt the team’s chances of staying in the top flight.
The Panthers will be hoping that the signing of attacker Liam Wooding from MetroStars will be able to improve on his 3 goals last season and club Best & Fairest Sam Carmichael can produce a similar attacking output as he did last year.