It’s time! And no, we’re not watching a Gough Whitlam election ad from 1972, so that can only mean one thing. The Hyundai A-League finals are here!
The matches will now take on a different complexion. Rather than the end of season feel accompanying the last few weeks, these games are going to be frenetic and red hot from the off. But before you break out in a cold sweat at the prospect of gambling on such cut throat matches, take a deep breath and relax because we’ve got you covered with a preview of each match, plus the regular suggested bets that have returned a 40% profit this season.
Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix (AEDT 2000 – Fox Sports 2)
I can’t quite fathom what has been unfolding over at Hindmarsh this week. Adelaide have been anything but united as first choice midfielder Paul Reid has sensationally walked out on the club on gameday eve. In a bizarre chain of events, Reid had requested a transfer to Sydney FC to participate for them in their upcoming Asian Champions League campaign. Reds boss Rini Coolen rejected the request and that has prompted Reid to make himself unavailable for Adelaide’s finals matches. This will have a large impact on the tactics. Reid normally plays in a central midfield role, sitting quite deep and doing the grunt work to allow the creative influences of Marcos Flores and Travis Dodd to go to work. As well as Flores and Dodd, the Reds have the league’s leading scorer Sergio van Dijk. The dutchman hasn’t scored in Adelaide’s last 4 matches, so is overdue for a goal. Wellington had to make the finals the hard way, but now they are there, they’re a big chance to do some damage. The Phoenix have good finals pedigree too, the kiwis won 2 knock out finals last year before being humbled by eventual champions Sydney. Wellington talisman Paul Ifill is returning to fitness from a serious knee injury he sustained in December. Due to his lack of match practice, Ifill will only play a second half cameo. Both teams have a settled central defensive partnership, so I expect this to be tight and low scoring.For me, Marcos Flores is the key to this match. If last weekend’s passionate game with Melbourne is anything to go by, the Argentinian won’t shy away from the big stage.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 1.60 (Luxbet)
Andy’s Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.95 (Centrebet)
Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar (AEDT 1900 – Fox Sports 2)
Brisbane Roar were the team of the home and away season. Will they be able to step up to the expectations for the finals series? Of course. I have really enjoyed watching Ange Postecoglou’s team play this season and can’t wait to see them perform under the finals microscope! They play with such unrelenting and attacking enthusiasm. This is the brand of football league chiefs would have envisaged when the A-League was formed. The Roar are unbeaten in their last 25 matches and come into week 1 of the finals on a 4 game winning streak. The Mariners will have to pull out something special to beat Brisbane. They are on a good run themselves, unbeaten in 9, and I think they will come at the Roar early, but are going to be too vulnerable at the back as the game opens up. In 3 games against the A-League yardstick this season, the Mariners have lost 2 and drawn 1. Two of those matches were played at the Bluetongue Stadium and in those games they conceded 5 goals and 3 goals on their home patch. During the week an A-League team of the year was announced and 7 of the 11 names in the line-up were Brisbane Roar players. Enough said.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 2.60 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win 2-1 @ 10.00 (Centrebet)
Gold Coast United v Melbourne Victory (AEDT 1730 – Fox Sports 3)
The Gold Coast are wobbling coming into the business end of the season. They have not beaten another side in the top 6 in any of their previous 5 matches against quality opposition. In their last 2 fixtures they suffered heavy defeats to Central Coast and Brisbane. United’s dip in form has coincided with the loss of marquee man Jason Culina. Culina was often controlling the tempo of matches in his central midfield role and Gold Coast have rather been chasing tails in his absence. Melbourne’s injury concerns contrast that of United. In the second half of last weekend’s game against Adelaide, the Victory had their golden triangle back in formation. The golden triangle comprises strikers Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse at the base, playing off creative midfielder Carlos Hernandez at the tip. Melbourne boss Ernie Merrick has confirmed Thompson will start, but stopped short of guaranteeing a place for Hernandez. Danny Allsop will also start up front in a potent Melbourne line up. In their 3 previous games this season, Melbourne have won 2 and Gold Coast 1, but amazingly only 4 goals have been scored. Melbourne won the most recent encounter 2-0 and Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg was scathing in his criticism of Melbourne’s ‘brutal’ and ‘dirty’ tactics. Bleiberg is essentially waving the red flag to the bull and his players should expect to cop more physical punishment.
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win @ 2.75 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Melbourne to win by 2 or more goals @ 6.25 (Centrebet)