The following are previews with betting tips for the elimination finals of the 2018/19 A-League season.
So, we say goodbye to another fantastic season of normal-Football as we head into the finals. And in particular we bid our goodbyes to Newcastle, Western Sydney, Brisbane and the Wooden Spooners, the Central Coast Mariners. However, despite those four teams now gone, six teams are still in contention for the Hyundai A-League Championship, the games ultimate prize. They are the Diego Castro led Glory, the Adam Le Fondre led Sky Blues, the Honda led Victory, the Goodwin led United, the Maclaren led City and the Phoenix led by the ‘Fijian Flyer’ Roy Krishna. So, to all those six highly-skilled and amazing teams, best of luck in the finals. Some teams have a better chance to take it out then others, but all of them are in it to win it!
Friday, May 3
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
7:50 PM AEST, AAMI Park
For the Victory their last game was a tight but not fairly convincing 1-0 win over the struggling Wanderers. Ola Toivonen opened the scoring in the 22nd minute of the match in what was his 13th goal of the campaign. The Victory, while they dominated possession with 58% of the ball, couldn’t do much with it as they shot just 3/11 on target. However, luckily for them their opponents were just as bad going 3/12. In credit to Melbourne though, they did complete a fantastic 85% of their passes, 523/616. And they also won 54 duels to the Wanderers 46. That as well as 18 aerial duels to their 13. They also conceded only 11 fouls. That being a particularly good number just on its own but even better when paired against the Wanderers 16.
As for Wellington they put out a weakened side in Perth and it most definitely showed as they were humbled five goals to nil in the game affectionately nicknamed the Distance Derby. The Phoenix conceded strikes in the 24th, 31st, 51st, 65th and 83rd minutes of the game as the opposition had four different names on the score-sheet. Wellington while they went alright attack wise, they were good for 3/7 on target, were absolutely hapless defensively. Perth owned 64% of the ball as they shot 17/37 on target. Yep, you saw that right, Wellington conceded 37 shots! However, the Phoenix did complete 77% of their passes. In addition to that they also won 49 duels against the Glory. As well as 20 aerial duels to their 14. Not so good though was their 15 fouls conceded, that while Perth gave away only four.
When these sides last played each other, it ended as a 1-all draw. Krishna scored one as did Honda and the two goals were within 10 minutes of the other. Wellington took a huge 18 shots that game, but the Victory bettered it with 20. And their last match in Melbourne was a hugely entertaining 3-3 result. Toivonen opened the scoring in the 5th minute, however, Williams got one back for the Nix just two minutes later. Troisi and Barbarouses also scored for Melbourne that game. While Krishna also proceeded to bag a double. Melbourne shot a good 8/17 on target that game as did Wellington going 7/16. And their first and final encounter before that this season ended 1-all, just like the first game mentioned. Neither one of this sides have been able to beat the other this campaign. Also, notably neither side has also been able to keep a clean-sheet in the games in which they’ve versed each other. That makes attacking oriented players such as Barbarouses (14 goals this season), Toivonen (13 goals this season), Krishna (18 goals this season, the best in the A-League) and Williams (11 goals this season) very, very relevant in this game, if they weren’t already.
The key player in this match is the ‘Fijian Flyer’ Roy Krishna. The 31-year-old Fiji international has 18 goals already this season from 25 games. That’s good for 1st in the A-League and two ahead of the second-placed finisher. He also has four assists to his name as he’s averaged a huge 87 minutes per game. He is a big, big game player and consistently turns up when it matters the most. You have to look no further then Wellington’s recent Round 26 game against City where he scored three goals including the 94th minute winner in the 3-2 victory. And to think he already improved upon his lethal form from last campaign where he scored six and assisted on three from only 16 matches. He has also won 70% of his tackles this season, good for 21 out of 30. If Wellington are going to claim the upset away win, then Roy will be a huuuuuuuuuuge part of it!
All in all, this will be a close game and one that won’t have much margin for error. However, for everything that the Nix can throw at the Victory. Melbourne can throw it right back at them in the form of Honda, Barbarouses, Toivonen, Antonis and possibly Troisi depending on whether he features in this match or not. And to see just how truly good the Victory can be you only need to look at their recent ACL draw which ended 1-all against Guangzhou Evergrande. They got the point despite fielding a massively depleted line-up and with having nothing to play for but pride in that game. Melbourne also won 15 games this season, four more then the Phoenix. While the Victory’s GD of +18 is the second best in the competition and significantly better then the Nix’s +3. The Victory should prevail here, but in all honesty don’t be surprised if Mark Rudan’s men take the game and the win of them.
Betting tip: Pick the Victory to claim the win at $1.73 (Ladbrokes)
Also pick both teams to score at least once at $1.75 (Bet365)
Choose Barbarouses to score anytime against his former side at $6.00 (Neds)
Sunday, May 5
Adelaide United v Melbourne City
7:00 PM AEST, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide won a crazy, crazy game against Brisbane last time out as they eventually claimed the 5-3 result. Adelaide had five different names on the score-sheet and they were Mileusnic in the 4th minute, Blackwood in the 51st minute, Goodwin in the 71st minute and Diawara in the 75th minute. Although facing Brisbane isn’t exactly the best preparation heading into the finals, a win is still a win! Adelaide held 58% of the ball and kept the opposition to only 42%. And to their credit Adelaide shot a very solid 6 of 13 shots on target. They also completed a very strong 85% of their passes. Good for 449/531. They also outmuscled the Roar, winning 48 duels to their 46. However, they lost the aerial duels 16 to 12. Back to the positives again and they conceded only 10 fouls. One of which was a penalty though and one in which Paul Izzo will be kicking himself for not saving given the slow, passing-like nature of the attempt. But five goals, Adelaide will be pretty contempt with that headed into their match-up against City.
Just like their opponents for this game, Melbourne also scored five goals in their last match as they routed the bottom-placed Mariners 5-0 in a thumping performance from the rejuvenated City. Harrison scored a double as he scored in the 35th and 55th minutes of the game. McGree, Vidosic and Najjarine also all featured among the goal-scorers. That was McGree’s seventh goal of the season and Vidosic’s third. Melbourne dominated possession with 56% of the ball and they kept the Mariners to just 44%. City also shot a wonderful 6/10 on target, while keeping the Central Coast to just 2/8 on target. City also completed an awesome 84% of their passes, 458/543. While they also won 59 duels and 11 aerial duels. Of a slight concern to them though will be their 16 conceded fouls. Doing that to players like Craig Goodwin within a decent range could prove costly for the Sky Blue side from Melbourne.
When these two sides last faced off, it ended in a 0-0 draw. This game had a sour taste to it as both sides shot the ball horribly despite their abundance of chances. Melbourne went 3/21 on target! While Adelaide went a slightly better 6/16. In all fairness to both sides though, City had three shots come of the woodwork and Adelaide one. The passing was one strong aspect however from both sides in this game. But the fouling game as not as a combined 31 fouls were given away. The game before that was also in Melbourne as both Jamie Maclaren and Craig Goodwin got goals in the 1-all draw. And the last time these two teams featured in Adelaide, was their first fixture between each other this season as City claimed the 2-0 victory. Jordan Elsey scored a OG in the 25th minute, while Luke Brattan secured the three points for his side with the match-deciding goal in the 50th minute. So, based on this, this encounter should be a pretty tightly contested one and one with not much room for error and that’s exactly how it should turn out. Both sides play hard and will give it their all!
Harrison will be the key player of this game. Yep you read that right. The English forward scored a double last game and, on the season, has four goals and an assist from only 10 matches played. That’s a goal contribution once every two games. Pretty impressive stuff from the 21 year old! Adelaide will already know what to expect from Jamie Maclaren and Riley McGree, but Harrison is more of an un-known quantity and could help add a massive surprise up-front to Melbourne City’s attacking line. He can play in his fellow team mates well as evidenced through his current 12 shot assists, so if Maclaren and Co can convert, then City will have a huge chance of advancing to week two of the finals. Harrison is a very talented prospect and could prove to be a huge player for City at the pointy end of the season. Afterall, there is a reason his parent club is none other than Tottenham!
Expect City to just ever so slightly claim the away victory and move on, thus knocking Adelaide out as a result. Maclaren being backed up by Wales, McGree, Brattan and Harrison is a dangerous prospect. Especially so considering Maclaren got some much-needed rest against the Central Coast. If these guys play to their natural games and don’t try to force to much, then Melbourne could very well rack up five like they did last round. Adelaide are very solid with Goodwin at the front and Izzo at the back, but besides their captain, no one else really is able to back up Goodwin consistently in Marco Kurz’s side. Maybe his star individual brilliance is enough, but pick City to just prevail in the end here.
Betting tip: Pick City to advance to the 2nd week of the finals with a victory at $3.00 (Ladbrokes)
Also pick both teams to feature on the score-sheet at $1.75 (Bet365)
Choose City to also score first at $2.25 (Neds)
Best Bet of the Round
My favourite/best bet of the round is for the Victory to claim the win at $1.73 (Ladbrokes). What will be vital here is their experience in the big stages, something that the Phoenix lack, generally speaking. That should help Kevin Muscat’s men to eventually prevail in the end.