And then there were 4. Brisbane, Central Coast, Adelaide and Gold Coast are the remaining survivors as we get closer to Australian football’s biggest day. There are only two matches this weekend, the second leg of Brisbane versus Central Coast headlines the action with the winner over the two legs through to the grand final. The other game this week is a cut-throat knockout final between Adelaide and the Gold Coast with the winner earning a preliminary final spot and the loser off for a long holiday.
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners
(AEDT 2000 – Fox Sports 2)
Brisbane did the business in the first leg of this A-League major semi final. The Roar return to Suncorp Stadium for part two of the clash with a 2-0 lead. Barring a calamity, Brisbane will qualify for the Grand Final and earn the right to host it. If they succeed on Saturday night, it will be the last game for the Roar before the season decider and that means it could be the last chance for the players to press for selection in the starting XI for the final. Central Coast are not a bad side at all, but by the time the final whistle was blown at Bluetongue Stadium last Saturday night, the Mariners players seemed to have already thrown in the towel.
Brisbane even have the luxury of calling upon their joint leading scorer Jean Carlos Solorzano to resume his place in the team. He will partner Kosta Barbarouses in attack and that spells danger for the Mariners defenders. If Brisbane can quell the Central Coast aggression early in the match, I think they are a good bet to go hunting for goals with the aim of doing some psychological damage to a potential grand final opponent.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 1.70 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win to nil @ 2.88 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide United v Gold Coast United
(AEDT 1730 – Fox Sports 2)
The two United’s will do battle in a twilight showdown on Sunday after both clubs won their elimination final clashes 1-0 last weekend. Adelaide, crucially, will host the match by virtue of a higher league position in the regular season. The hosting rights are important because Gold Coast have been victorious travelers only once in their last 8 away fixtures, while the reds have won 11 times from their 16 matches at home this campaign. When I look at the two line ups, I think Adelaide have too much creativity for a Gold Coast side missing star player Jason Culina. During the week Culina agreed to a deal that will see the midfielder leave Gold Coast for Newcastle in the off season. Without Culina, God Coast’s star power rests with strikers Shane Smeltz and Bruce Djite. The problem for those two will be the type of service they receive. I’m anticipating that my favourite player in the A-League, Reds midfider Marcos Flores, will be stroking magical passes around to his Adelaide teammates. Adelaide have the A-League’s top scorer Sergio van Dijk, and Travis Dodd, 3 goals in his last 4 games, to shoot them into a preliminary final.
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win @ 2.15 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Adelaide to win by 2 or more goals @ 4.50 (Sportsbet)