The following are previews with betting tips for the semi-finals of the 2020/21 A-League season.
Saturday, June 19
Sydney FC v Adelaide United
7:05 PM AEST, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Sydney and Adelaide head into this clash in extremely similar form with each side having won once, as well as there being two draws over their past four games against one another. Sydney’s latest match was a 2-0 victory vs the Roar at Dolphin Stadium, whilst Adelaide’s was also a 2-1 victory, vs the same team, at the same venue. And at home throughout the regular season the Sky Blues came up with 15 goals, while for the Reds on the road that number is 21.
Numbers however aren’t the only thing interesting about this clash as throughout the years these two teams have developed a real hatred for one another. In 2017 at the SFS the Sky Blues claimed a dramatic 2-1 ET win in the FFA Cup final to hoist aloft the prestigious trophy. This came after Bobo came up with what proved to be the 111th minute winner, whilst Marrone was sent off in less then acrimonious circumstances just four minutes later in what was an incredibly heated finish to the clash. Prior to that in 2015 also at Allianz Stadium Sydney came up with a big 4-1 victory in the finals sending the Reds back to Adelaide with their heads held low. With two quick fire goals to Brosque in the 46th and 47th minutes of the match it was all but over given Ibini had also found the back of the net before ‘Brosquey’ as well. There is no doubt going to be another memorable, yet intense chapter added to their history come Saturday evening!
As per Tomi Juric via A-League Live “Finish this season on a high and that’s definitely what we want to do as a team”. He was speaking after his sides elimination final win vs the Roar last Sunday in which his two massive goals helped his Adelaide achieve a semi-final berth vs Sydney. Those were his 8th and 9th goals of the campaign and if anybody is going to guide the Reds to glory in this one then it will be the 41X capped Socceroo. Despite battling various injury ailments this year he remains Adelaide’s best shot at a victory with Goodwin missing this clash due to his own injury issues. The man who once scored 12 strikes over two seasons at the Wanderers is more then capable of facing up to the task at hand.
As for Sydney they come into this match-up without Andrew Redmayne, Ryan Grant and Ryan McGowan who are all on Socceroos duty currently so that leaves some pretty big holes to fill in their defence. 2X K-League winner and A-League veteran Alex Wilkinson will be absolutely massive for the Sky Blues in that department with his 372 games of Australian Football experience to call upon. Paulo Retre will be another that will be no doubt be called upon by Steve Corica to try and help out the more inexperienced players in the back line. However all of the focus in this one will be on the starting keeper Thomas Heward-Belle. He has played just one match all season long as Redmayne’s apprentice of sorts despite being 24 years of age. This will be the most difficult proposition of his career so far but if he can live up to the task then ‘Redders’ will have a fight on his hand next season to retain his starting position. But a lot of his performance will depend on whether or not he can handle the intense pressure that comes with playing finals Football.
Ultimately this will be no walk in the park for Sydney despite Adelaide missing Goodwin. However Carl Veart’s side boasts a lot of young and somewhat unpredictable, yet extremely talented players which will make it a harsh encounter for the Sky Blues. Some of those younger lads include the likes of 21 year old Pacifique Niyongarbie and Al Hassan Toure who is also aged 21. They are the players that have the potential to make life hell for the home side. However Sydney’s front three of ‘Alfie’ Le Fondre (3 goals from 5 games this season = TS) Bobo (11 from 21 TS) and Barbarouses (8 from 25 TS) should be to classy and just to much for Adelaide to handle. Sydney should take this one in what should be a tightly contested affair.
Betting tips: Pick Sydney to prevail at $1.75 (UniBet)
Also pick there to be a goal in both halves at $1.53 (UniBet)
And pick Sydney to open the scoring at $1.44 (Bet365)
Sunday, June 20
Melbourne City v Macarthur FC
4:05 PM AEST, AAMI Park
When City and Macarthur last went head-to-head they produced a brilliant 1-1 affair at Campbelltown Stadium. It was Metcalfe who opened the scoring in the 59th minute for the away side before much to the delight of the home crowd it was Ruhs who equalised in the 77th minute. Here’s to hoping for more of that sort of high octane action right here! And with Derbyshire (14 goals this campaign) going up against Noone (six goals and eight assists this campaign) we might just get it. And when you throw the attacking brilliance of Nabbout into the mix as he continues to work his way back from injury as well as Loic Puyo returning from a red card suspension this becomes one hell of a match-up!
All eyes will be on Noone in the lead-up to this clash and whether or not he can return on time from injury to face up against a difficult Macarthur side. And with FTBL recently reporting that he’s signed a 2-year deal with the Bulls a defeat here could be his last appearance in a City shirt. He’ll have some motivation of his own to leave Melbourne with an A-League Grand Final trophy as well as wanting to show his future team mates what they’ll be getting from him next year.
While Nabbout as well will also be a big part of Melbourne’s game plan for this encounter. The former Victory turned City man has produced 2 goals this season, as well as 5 goal assists in what’s been an injury interrupted campaign for the ex Urawa Red Diamond. But with this being City’s biggest game of the season to date the lethal attacker is no doubt primed for a five-star performance, especially in the absence of the 25-goal Maclaren. He will draw Bulls defenders away from their posts which will help free up space for his teammates. If Nabbout is good enough then his ability with the ball could be potentially match changing for Melbourne inside of AAMI Park.
When you asses form you can’t have anything else other then praise for the Bulls as per their difficult but willing 2-0 ET Elimination Final win over the Mariners in Gosford last Saturday night. With a goal disallowed to Derbyshire due to offside early on, that was one of their few legitimate chances throughout the regular period. And with 15 minutes left before ET their task became 100X more daunting with James Meredith seeing red. Yet in the 93rd minute of ET they somehow took the lead after M’Mombwa headed in the deflected effort to get the travelling away fans in absolute raptures. And then on the 121 minute mark the most unlikeliest of victories was secured as Ruhs scored the run away goal which all but sealed their semi final berth. Considering this is their maiden season in the A-League it is just WOW what they have done so far! And there’s still so much more to come from them as well.
If you’d had asked me two weeks ago who I thought would prevail in this match-up I would’ve said City 100%. Buy given City’s shaky form recently and the absolute poise and courage that Macarthur displayed in their win over the Mariners I’m just not to sure anymore. Both sides have their obvious merits which is their attacks, while both sides can also over come the odds when their backs are placed heavily against the wall. A packed out crowd in Melbourne should certainly work in City’s favor, however the Bulls have also won 8/14 on the road this season so they clearly don’t mind travelling to other teams venues. But City without Maclaren may struggle so I’m picking Macathur to win by the absolute tightest of margins here. Don’t be surprised if the game goes into ET or perhaps even all the way to a penalty shootout.
Betting tips: Pick Macarthur to prevail at $6.25 (UniBet)
Also pick each team to score at least once each at $1.70 (Bet365)
And look for Derbyshire to find the back of the net anytime throughout the match at $2.87 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Pick Bobo to score anytime vs Adelaide at $1.80 (Bet365)
Also do the same for Le Fondre vs Adelaide at $1.57 (Bet365)
And pick their to be at least 1+ goal in each half of City vs the Bulls at $1.53