A-League Round 1 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2016/17 A-League season.

Friday, 7 October

Brisbane Roar

Brisbane v Melbourne Victory

7:50 PM AEDT, Suncorp Stadium

Melbourne Victory

In what is known as the longest off-season in world football, both sides have had a lot of time to reflect, rejuvenate, and strengthen their respective playing groups for the 12th edition of the Hyundai A-League. It is often said that mental scars are often more difficult to overcome than those of the physical variety. Brisbane’s dramatic semi-final collapse against Western Sydney, letting a 3-0 lead slip to eventually lose 5-4 in extra time, will live long in the memory. Victory also suffered end of season heartbreak, at this very venue against the Roar, when Berisha’s 86th minute opener was cancelled out when Matty McKay leveled matters on 88 and then German maestro, Thomas Broich, completed the turnaround with virtually the last kick of the game.

Following their early round exit from the FFA Cup, losing 2-0 to Perth, Brisbane’s sole focus over the past month has been the season opener against the Victory. The visitors have been slightly busier in recent months/weeks with Asian Champions League, glamorous ‘exhibition matches’, and FFA Cup progress filling up their calendar. Following last week’s 2-0 win over Victorian NPL side, Bentleigh Greens, the 3-time A-League and reigning FFA Cup champions will face city rivals Melbourne City in next week’s huge semi-final clash.

Last season’s H2H: Brisbane 2 wins, Victory 1 win, 1 draw.
Prediction: Brisbane -0.25ah @2.06 (Pinnacle Sports)

Saturday, 8 October

Wellington Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City

5:35 PM AEDT, Westpac Stadium

Melbourne City

In his fourth season at the Nix, Ernie Merrick will hope that his side can go some way to replicating the form of season 14/15 rather than that of 15/16. The departure of Socceroo Nathan Burns coinciding with the loss of form of Fiji international, Roy Krishna, left the Scot in short supply of goals last campaign. An ageing backline did not help their cause either as Wellington conceded at an average of 2 a game, eventually finishing 9th just above the dismal Mariners. Despite smashing all manner of A-League scoring records, thanks mainly to the magnificent trio of Fornaroli, Novillo and Socceroo Aaron Mooy, Melbourne City bowed out at the penultimate stage to eventual champions Adelaide United. Dutch manager, John Van’t Schip, will hope he has recruited well enough to replace two of the aforementioned (Mooy and Novillo) who are no longer at the club while some much needed reinforcements are required on the defensive end.

The capture of Melbourne Victory duo, Guy Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses (the latter returning for a second stint at the club), should help grease the wheels of the Nix machine going forward. Italian centre-back and former Perugia man, Marco Rossi, should offer some much needed defensive nous but one wonders whether he alone is the solution for last season’s second-leakiest backline. Melbourne City roll into town led by Socceroo and Aussie sporting icon, Timmy Cahill, who has finally returned home to finish off an illustrious playing career in front of his many adoring fans. Following the retirement of ‘captain courageous’, Patrick Kisnorbo, Cahill seems like the perfect replacement to drive this ambitious club to their first title. Winning the FFA Cup would be a start with a semi-final to contest next week, but till then, it will be a mistake to overlook a much-improved Nix (on paper at least) in their own backyard.

Last season’s H2H: Wellington 1 win, Melbourne City 2 wins
Prediction: Over 2.75 goals @1.75 (SBOBET)


Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney v Sydney FC

7:50 PM AEDT, ANZ Stadium

Sydney FC

Losing 15/16 finalists, Western Sydney, will hope to go one better this season after falling 3-1 to deserving champions, Adelaide United. Following on from the most remarkable comeback in A-League history, the 5-4 win over Brisbane, winning against a red hot United outfit proved to be a mountain too high. Overall, it was a satisfying season for Tony Popovic’s men after finishing one off bottom in season 14/15. In the other dugout, Graham Arnold would most certainly of endured several sleepless nights as his side failed to even the make the finals. Goals were at a premium for the Russian-backed club as marquee men Filip Holosko and Alex Brosque (season interrupted through injury) failed to find top form. Finishing 7th, seven points behind sixth-placed Melbourne Victory, had most people thinking that Arnold was a done deal at the Sky Blues. Unless there have been late developments that we are unaware of, we can safely report that Arnie is still the top man at the SFS.

What better way to open the season in front of a packed ANZ Stadium? A win for either side will be a major confidence booster moving forward whilst defeat, although not terminal, could take some getting over. The Wanderers have not won a Sydney derby in almost 3 years. If last week’s 4-1 FFA Cup defeat to Melbourne City is anything to go by, then Sydney FC could well extend that record. To make matters worse for the home side, captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley was sent off in that game and will miss this fixture through suspension. In contrast, Sydney FC go into this with a spring in their step after they progressed to the cup semis following a convincing 3-0 win over NSW NPL outfit, Blacktown City.

Last season’s H2H: Sydney FC 2 wins, 1 draw.
Prediction: Sydney FC 0ah @1.99 (Pinnacle Sports)


Perth Glory

Perth Glory v Central Coast

10:00 PM AEDT, NIB Stadium

Central Coast Mariners

In one of the many remarkable stories to come out of last season, Perth Glory’s mid-season resurgence and Andy Keogh’s record scoring feat were up there with the best of them. After flailing in the bottom reaches of the A-League table for over half a season, Perth managed to win 10 of their remaining 13 games and finish comfortably in the Top 6. It was not coincidence that Andy Keogh’s eligibility to play from January onward (completing his transfer from Thai club, Ratchaburi) rocketed the Glory up the table. The Irishman’s leadership and goals, breaking the A-League record for number of consecutive matches scored (he managed 8), was a great personal achievement but the team’s momentum petered out going into the finals. What can we say about the Mariners? Perhaps, “one of the worst sides in A-League history” is apt. Led by a clueless manager in Tony Walmsley, the Central Coast were a train wreck from start to finish, ending the season on a sorry 13pts and goal difference of -37.

Thankfully, for all concerned, Walmsley has now been replaced by Mariners club legend and last season’s assistant manager, John Hutchinson, in a caretaker capacity. Hutchinson has little managerial experience but can at least instill some grit and determination to make up for the obvious lack in quality within the group. In contrast, Kenny Lowe’s men will be aiming high. The Englishman is a passionate man and you can be sure that his side will show no mercy if the visitors are as generous as last season.

Last season’s H2H: Perth 2 wins, Central Coast 1 win.
Prediction: Over 3 goals @1.89 (SBOBET)

Sunday, 9 October

Newcastle Jets

Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United

5:00 PM AEDT, Hunter Stadium

Adelaide United

It was a season to forget for the Jets with off-field problems, low attendances, injuries, and major squad changes grabbing the headlines in 15/16. Despite operating in these trying circumstances, young manager Scott Miller did a fine job in getting everyone pulling in the same direction – guiding the Novocastrian club to a creditable 8th spot. It would also be amiss not to mention the man between the sticks, Mark Birighitti, who was a standout performer for the majority of the season. Speaking of standout performances, Adelaide United did the double as they were crowned Premiers and Champions of season 15/16. After a dodgy start to life after Josep Gombau, fellow Spaniard and Barcelona FC legend, Guillermo Amor, steadied the ship and got the Reds playing winning football. After going nine games into the season without a win, home victories over Perth and especially Sydney FC (Carrusca scoring from the spot in the last kick of the game) really got their campaign under way.

There’s good news and bad news coming out of Newcastle in the shadows of the 12th A-League season. The good is that the Jets are now in a more secure financial position with a Chinese firm taking over the reins of the club. The sad news is that Scott Miller was sacked last week with Adelaide United W-League gaffer, Mark Jones, taking over as head coach. Adelaide United have kept the core of their squad together so should fight for top honors again with Amor recruiting well in the off-season. The match at The Hunter will be no walk in the park with optimism and the feel good factor returning to Newcastle, at least for now. The sides met 3 times last season, featuring two scoreless stalemates and a one goal win for Adelaide United. An upset on the cards, perhaps?

Last season’s H2H: Adelaide United 1 win, 2 draws.
Prediction: No bet.

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