The following are previews and betting tips for the 2012 A-League Grand Final.
SUNDAY (APR 22)
Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory (AEDT 1600)
Grand Final time is here! Another terrific season has come and gone, whizzing past in a blur of outstanding on-field action, big-name signings and feuding between league administrators and some club owners.
For Brisbane, it has been more of the same and Ange Postecoglou’s team again finds itself hosting the season decider at Suncorp Stadium. A Roar victory would cap off a remarkable two years for the club, adding another league title to go with last year’s trophy, while earlier in the season Brisbane broke an Australian top tier sporting record for most consecutive matches played without defeat.
Perth’s path to the showpiece final has been far less predictable and has been played out in 3 acts. A short opening scene saw Perth burst out from the blocks to secure maximum points from their first three matches. However, those with an allegiance to the Glory began to shift uncomfortably in their seats as the purple-shirted men could only win one of their next 11 matches, and even that was only against last placed Gold Coast. At one point, both fans and the media were calling for the sacking of coach Ian Ferguson, but the board stuck firm with the Scot and eventually the clubs fortunes turned, with the Glory charging to this Grand Final after occupying 9th place on the ladder at the halfway point of the season!
Brisbane have had the edge in the head to head meetings between the teams this season, with the Roar winning an early season fixture at Suncorp 4-0 and a late February match in Perth 3-0. An entertaining 3-3 draw was also played at nib Stadium in the middle of the season. Roar striker Besart Berisha has been particularly busy in those fixtures, netting 4 times against the Glory during the 3 regular season games.
Brisbane played a midweek Asian Champions League match on Tuesday night and normally I don’t like to bet on teams backing up after a short turnaround, but Brisbane should still be reasonably fresh as, with the Grand Final on Sunday, they’ve still got a five day break. Furthermore, the Roar had Preliminary Final off last weekend, so a Tuesday night tune-up against quality Asian Champions League opposition may even work in their favour.
A delicious subplot will also be played out between the opposing strikers. Brisbane’s Besart Berisha is this season’s main man, scoring 19 goals in 27 games en-route to the Golden Boot, while Perth Glory’s Shane Smeltz has been plundering goals with astonishing regularity for years, the Kiwi’s A-League tally now stands at a super impressive 65 goals in 100 matches.
Given the attacking talent on show, I expect this to be the most open Grand Final in recent memory and I’ll be cheering on the goals! Good luck for your punting and thanks for reading the column this season.
Andy’s Bet: Brisbane to win @ 1.72 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 1.82 (TAB Sportsbet)