June 25, 2024

As we approach Gather Round, all attention is squarely focused on the Adelaide Football Club. The round’s marquee matchup sees the Crows taking on Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night, setting the stage for a crucial clash.

Starting the 2024 season at 0-3, the Crows have been a major disappointment, especially considering the high expectations placed on them. Facing a red-hot Demons team riding two consecutive wins, Adelaide’s season hangs in the balance.

According to Fox Footy pundits, no team is under more pressure or has more at stake than Matthew Nicks’ side. A loss would push them to an 0-4 record, effectively ending their hopes for the year, particularly given the teams they would have lost to.

The significant changes made by Adelaide, with three players omitted, compared to Melbourne’s forced change, highlight the contrasting positions of the two clubs.

The winless Crows need to respond (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

This time last year, Adelaide was in a much different position, entering Gather Round after two straight wins and delivering a dominant performance against Carlton. However, football fortunes can change drastically in a year.

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley reminisced about Adelaide’s impressive showing in last year’s opener and highlighted the challenge they face against a resilient Melbourne side this time around.

For Adelaide, the stakes are immense as they aim to kickstart their season and uphold the pride of South Australia.

In a way, the upcoming match presents an ideal opportunity for Adelaide to rebound. With their backs against the wall against a formidable opponent, the Crows may rise to the occasion, fueled by the support of their 50,000-strong fanbase.

For Adelaide, Gather Round is more than just a regular round of football; it’s their stage, their weekend, akin to a grand final for the state. The sense of pride and responsibility that accompanies this moment could provide the emotional lift needed, much like last year’s impressive performance.

As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and Adelaide finds itself under scrutiny after a disappointing start to the season. Former Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall expressed his disappointment with the team’s performance and emphasized the importance of their upcoming clash with Melbourne.

Despite narrowly missing out on finals last year, Adelaide’s fortunes have shifted, and they now find themselves under pressure from all angles. Coach Nicks acknowledges that the team’s systems have faltered, adding to the urgency of the situation.

Ultimately, the team’s success hinges on the performance of its star players, many of whom are currently struggling for form. Against Melbourne, Adelaide will be counting on these players to step up and deliver a much-needed boost.

David King highlights the significant responsibility resting on Jordan Dawson’s shoulders after a less than stellar start to his season as the Crows’ captain.

“Jordan Dawson, the club captain, had an impressive start to his career at the club. He’s known for his tenacity and precise ball use. However, for some reason, his form has dipped,” King remarked.

“He’s working hard to regain his form and needs to lead by example on the field. It’s not about being the best player but ensuring everyone plays their role effectively. When he has possession, it needs to result in impactful plays, which we haven’t seen lately.

“Despite his current status as the lowest-rated kick in the competition, his talent level is far beyond that. We’re hoping for a quick turnaround because the Crows rely on him.”

On the other hand, Leigh Montagna believes Taylor Walker is under immense pressure, given his recent struggles despite his consistent performance in previous seasons.

“Taylor Walker, or ‘Tex,’ has been exceptional in recent years. However, the Crows desperately need him to step up against Melbourne,” Montagna expressed.

“With just two goals from two games this year, there’s mounting pressure on him, especially considering his age. As the main figure for the Crows, he needs to deliver in this crucial game.”

Facing their toughest opponent yet this season and with significant stakes on the line, the outcome of Thursday night’s match will undoubtedly spark discussions. Whether the Crows emerge victorious or not, their performance under such intense scrutiny will be the focal point, potentially defining their season’s trajectory.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 03: Alex Neal-Bullen of the Demons, AFL CEO Andrew Dillon, The Hon Peter Malinauskas MP,Premier of South Australia and Jordan Dawson of the Crows pose for a photo during a 2024 AFL Gather Round Media Opportunity at the Adelaide Oval on April 03, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

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