Finals is upon us in the A-League (also known as playoffs, depending where you are from), with third place Adelaide hosting 6th placed Wellington Phoenix in the Friday night fixture.
Adelaide will be desperate for redemption after a bitterly disappointing 1-4 loss at home last week, which saw them surrender the highly sought second place to Central Coast Mariners.
After looking like genuine title contenders a month ago, Adelaide have managed just 2 points from their last four matches.
Wellington have also been stuttering, only last week confirming their finals place with a gritty 1-0 away win to Macarthur, their first win in six league games.
A lot of Adelaide United’s fortunes surely rest on the shoulders of Craig Goodwin.
He’s continued to show the kind of form which saw him in the Socceroos starting squad in the World Cup, and has become just the third player in A-League history to record 10+ assists and 10+ goals in a season.
Naturally Adelaide will turn to his big game experience for inspiration.
Wellington aren’t short of stars though. Polish striker Oskar Zawada is having a terrific season with 15 goals from his 24 matches, and is a proven match winner.
Given both teams recent form - with the added intensity of a do-or-die finals match - it might be more tepid affair than the odds indicate.
We’ll play it safe and predict this match won’t have anything above 3 goals in it.
Betting Prediction: Under 3.5 goals @ $1.72
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Sydney FC
Another sudden death finals match, with the extra spice of a cross-town derby.
Unlike the first match contenders, both teams here are enjoying good recent form.
Surprisingly this is the first time the Sydney Derby will be played as a final.
Brandon Borello is the obvious key player for West Sydney, with an outstanding return of five goals in his last four starts.
Sydney have their own form player in Adam Le Fondre who has scored in each of his last three games, which coincides with Sydney’s winning run.
Another interesting player watch will be on Milos Ninkovic who will likely start in the middle of the West Sydney midfield, against the team where had previously won two titles (plus a best on ground in Grand Final medal) and had previously enjoyed cult status.
Interesting to note that in their three previous clashes this season, the away team has won on each occasion.
However we think this game will break that recent trend and we’re going a straight up win to West Sydney.
They’ve been the more consistent team during the season, and with the enthusiasm of their first finals appearance in six years Wanderers should win when it matters.