City matched their 4th place finish of last campaign but it could have been even better for John van 't Schip’s side as they lost their final two games of the season, at Perth and at home to Adelaide. Few would have thought that Perth would be in the Finals when they were down in 9th after 15 games, but 10 wins in their last 12 saw them surge up to 5th, though they suffered a disappointing defeat of their own on the final day of the season as they were beaten 4-0 at Sydney, who recorded their first win in 12 games.
City were certainly the most exciting team to watch through the regular season with their games seeing 107 goals (4.0 gpg) as they were comfortably the division’s top scorers, but only the Mariners and Phoenix were worse defensively. Their home record was W9-D2-L3 and they scored at least twice in 12 of their home games, but managed just two clean sheets. As a result 13 of their home matches saw more than two goals and nine had more than three and it’s also worth noting that City led at the break in nine of these games. When hosting fellow top-half sides they were W3-D0-L2 as they lost and failed to score against the Wanderers and Adelaide, but beat Brisbane, the Wanderers and Perth.
That defeat was early on in the season prior to Perth’s excellent run of form but closer inspection of the teams they played during that run makes for interesting reading. Only three of their last 12 games were against top-half sides, one of which they lost against the Wanderers and the other two were home wins over Brisbane and City. Indeed, Perth’s away record this term was W5-D1-L8 and all five of those wins came against bottom-four sides and they lost all six of their trips to top-half teams, failing to score in half of these games and also trailing at the break in half.
With 67% of home teams since 2012/13 winning in the play-offs, City look an appealing price in this one, particularly with doubts over the strength of Perth’s form. Since City have led at the break in nine of their 14 home matches while Perth have trailed at the break in half of their six visits to top-half teams, City to be ahead at half-time and full-time is also worth consideration at 3.45.
Recommendation: Melbourne City to Win at 2.05
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