A-League Best Bets & Multi - Round 25
Finals race is on like donkey kong!
Brisbane Roar vs. Wellington Phoenix – Friday 7:50pm – Suncorp Stadium
The Finals Series has come early for three clubs with Wellington Phoenix, Adelaide United and Melbourne City all vying for a pivotal fourth-place finish.
The Nix were knocked back down to earth following a tough away loss 3-1 to Adelaide United and this is their chance to strike back.
Brisbane is at home but they have very little to play for and still don’t know who their coach will be next season, with players still uncertain of their futures when a boss is appointed.
It finished all square the last time Phoenix travelled to Suncorp Stadium back in Round 2, while the Wellington club enjoyed a 4-1 triumph when the sides met in New Zealand's capital in late December.
Roy Krishna still leads the golden boot list with 15 goals to his name, equal with Sydney FC’s Adam Le Fondre. This means one thing – expect Roy to make his way onto the scoresheet at least once.
The Roar have conceded 59 goals this campaign, the second worst rate in the league and just three goals behind Central Coast Mariners. If the Phoenix is ruthless enough, Brisbane could top this ugly list.
Melbourne City vs. Adelaide United – Saturday 5:35pm – AAMI PARK
Last round we saw 20 goals scored, some season-defining results and some superb individual display so this clash provides an opportunity paramount to what we hope to see in the finals which aren’t too far away
Seven days can be a long time in football. Just ask Warren Joyce and his City players… this time last week they looked the side most vulnerable to potentially dropping out of the top six. Now they have destiny in their own hands in the battle for fourth spot.
There’s plenty of pressure piling on City but Ritchie De Laet stepped. The Belgian right-back not only emphasised his significance in defence, but he also produced a moment of magic to ice City's win.
De Laet now has seven goals for the season but none better than his 30-metre piledriver which scorched into the top corner of the net. This man can deliver big time in this clash and have a huge influence on the result.
Also, Florin Berenguer gets a mention - we've been waiting for much of the season to see the Frenchman's quality and he delivered in spades in the big win over Brisbane last round.
Melbourne City boasts an 80% passing accuracy rate – Berenguer is a key contributor to this stat and he might just be a bit of an x-factor for Warren Joyce's men.
The Reds moved level with the Wellington Phoenix in fourth spot with their well-deserved 3-1 win at Coopers Stadium, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men after two-goal hero Apostolos Stamatelopoulos was sent off. But this form will not be enough to see off City away.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Sydney FC – Saturday 7:50pm – ANZ Stadium
Ah, the Sydney derby… bring it on! Here’s what you need to know.
Of the 21 derbies that have taken place, the Sky Blues have won 12 of them and it is about to become 13. Skipper Alex Brosque is top scorer with five goals and likely to add a sixth this weekend.
In a largely disappointing season for the Red and Black, the form of the Aussie U-23 international Keanu Baccus has been a shining light. He was super impressive last week against the Jets but his presence and talent will not be enough to stop the Sky Blues.
No one epitomises the drive and will-to-win more than Rhyan Grant, who provided a great outlet down Sydney FC's right flank in the win over Victory last round. It was his pass that released Siem de Jong to set up Milos Ninkovic's winner, just one of numerous promising moments from the Socceroos defender. Sydney has a very stubborn defence – they’ve kept seven clean sheets this campaign, and have only conceded 26 goals which is pretty impressive.
Taking all that into account, Sydney lock this clash up and send out a statement ahead of finals.
Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners – Sunday 5:00pm – AAMI PARK
With a four-point gap ahead of them after defeat in last weekend's Big Blue in Sydney, nothing less than a win will do for Kevin Muscat's side as they chase second place in the ladder.
They currently sit comfortably third, and while they seem unlikely to be caught by the chasing pack, the boss will not be satisfied until everything is mathematically certain.
Victory have seven clean sheets to their name and this is a great chance to make it eight against the worst side in the league, who have conceded 62 goals this season. Making matters worse this season is they have bagged the least amount of goals too (27).
The reigning champs will be boosted by the news Terry Antonis hasn’t suffered a serious knee injury, so they will be extra motivated to win and keep pushing for him.
We are tipping Kosta Barbarouses to have a field day. He has 14 goals to his name, just one behind Golden Boot leaders Le Fondre and Krishna.
Taking all that into account, Melbourne Victory to stamp its authority thanks to Barbarouses.
Perth Glory vs. Newcastle Jets – Sunday 7:00pm – HBF PARK
Could Glory get their hands on the Premiership this weekend? The short answer is yes. With three games of the regular season to go, it seems a matter of when, not if, Glory will lift their first piece of silverware.
If the Perth side is to get their hands on the Premiers’ Plate this weekend, they would need the Sky Blues to drop points in Saturday night’s Derby against Western Sydney Wanderers. This is unlikely. If this pans out the way we have suggested, then the earliest Glory can officially claim the Premiership is in Round 26, when they travel to Sydney to take on Steve Corica’s side.
Glory's march towards a history-making first piece of silverware has been fairly relentless this season, with the hint of a wobble in Round 23's home defeat by Melbourne Victory quickly put back on an even keel with a ruthlessly efficient 3-0 win at Central Coast Mariners last weekend.
For the Newcastle Jets, the equation is as simple as it is difficult - they need to win all three of their remaining matches, and hope one of Wellington, Adelaide United or Melbourne City lose all three of theirs, to sneak themselves a sixth-place finish. But this will not happen.
Perth Glory wins this one comfortably.