Adelaide United captain Eugene Galekovic believes the next month of football will shape his side’s season as the Reds press for honours.
Kicking off with league leaders Central Coast Mariners on Friday night at Bluetongue Stadium, Adelaide squares off against three fellow top four opponents over the coming weeks.
The trip to Gosford is followed by back-to-back home fixtures against in-form Western Sydney Wanderers and rivals Melbourne Victory.
To round out a tough month ahead, United visits Allianz Stadium to take on Sydney FC who have not lost this year when the Reds trounced them 3-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on New Year’s Eve.
Galekovic admitted the next four matches would determine where the Reds finish on the table.
“The next month is massive. Our next three games are against the top four teams in the league,” Galekovic said.
“If we drop a couple (of matches) we would probably go down to fourth, if we win a couple we are probably in top spot, so it definitely shapes the season.
“It starts this week (against Central Coast) and it would be a good start for the run home to get a win and go equal top.”
United and Central Coast have met just once this season despite occupying the top two spots on the table.
The Mariners were victorious in that meeting back in early December when they came from behind to defeat Adelaide 2-1 at Bluetongue Stadium and knock the Reds off their perch to claim top spot.
Galekovic admitted United would have a fight on their hands to reclaim first position, but was confident the Reds could topple the Mariners who have dropped considerable points and won just twice in their last six matches.
“They’re in a similar situation to us where they haven’t got a few wins in the last few weeks, so their confidence will be a little bit down,” Galekovic said.
“They’re hard working team. All 11 players work hard on the pitch to get possession back and score goals too … but hopefully we come out in the first minute and put pressure on them and get the crowd on their back.
“It’s another chance this week to go top of the table. We will be up for it, we want top spot.”
Although a win would be ideal, Galekovic conceded a draw against the reigning minor premiers would be acceptable given how competitive the competition has been this season.
“I think any points away from home in this league are good,” Galekovic said.
“This league is so tight that if you don’t turn up you will get beat – it doesn’t matter who you play.
“You go into every game wanting to win, but it depends on how the game pans out.
“We are still going there to win the game, knowing if we do, we will be equal top.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Zenon Caravella has been released from his contract with Adelaide.
“Zenon has been a terrific club person but we understand his position and wish him well for the future,” Adelaide United Football Director Michael Petrillo said.
Caravella, 29, made 37 appearances with Adelaide.