A-LEAGUE enthusiast Will Dyer (@W2Dyer) talks us through the best bets from this weekend’s quarter-final action Down Under.
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar | Friday 10.37 | BT Sport 1
I liken this fixture to Arsenal v Swansea. Two teams that try to play the perfect possession game so it should make for an intriguing match-up. Adelaide earned home advantage for this quarter-final by finishing fourth in the final standings but that advantage is somewhat reduced as this tie will actually be played at the Adelaide Oval rather than the Reds usual home, Cooper Stadium.
Last year’s A-League Champions, Brisbane Roar looked like they would be unable to defend their title just two months ago but controversy broke out and Perth Glory were banned from the finals for breaching the wage cap. Brisbane automatically qualified to take their place as they finished seventh, one place outside the play-offs.
So, reading that you’d be forgiven for thinking this would be straightforward for Adelaide. Brisbane shouldn’t be here and Adelaide finished a whole 12 points higher than the Queensland side; in a 27-game league that’s quite a sizeable margin. But, write the Roar off at your peril, they have a terrific record against United.
Since 2007 Brisbane have a W10-D2-L3 record in the league in Adelaide. They won both league away games against them this season, which made it six consecutive league victories in South Australia. Also worrying for United is the fact that both league defeats at the hands of the Queenslanders came off the back of good form.
Adelaide were unbeaten in eight in all competitions at home before losing to Brisbane in December and it was deja-vu when they lost at home to them earlier this month having been unbeaten in four prior to that game.
Brisbane’s involvement in the AFC Champions League has been a distraction for them this season with huge distances to travel to places like Beijing and can partly explain their poor season. Roar’s next game in that competition comes four days after this tie and thankfully for them, it’s at home so don’t expect that to have too much effect on this.
For me, the real reason for Roar’s decline has been the loss of Bersat Berisha to Melbourne Victory. He top-scored for Brisbane last season and in his absence Henrique Silva and Jean Carlos Solorzano haven’t been able to emulate his goal-scoring record.
United’s Argentine playmaker Marcelo Carrusca is expected to return just in time for this tie and that’s a huge boost for them, he was absent in their defeat to Brisbane earlier this month and trying to replace him really upsets the balance of the team. He has a cool head and an eye for a killer ball.
I think goals are on the menu, Roar haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine A-League fixtures but equally Adelaide have kept just one in 16 versus Roar in league campaigns.
I also think Adelaide have to be opposed at odds-on quotes, they’ve been the better side over the course of the season but Brisbane are a big bogey team for them. Recent Brisbane defeats have both been to Melbourne Victory, winners of the Premier’s Plate, and with Roar fielding weakened sides.
I can’t see Roar keeping a clean sheet; any victory is likely to be an out-scoring job and with the crazy score-lines the A-League throws up Brisbane to win and Both Teams To Score makes a lot of appeal at a big price. It’s 7/1 with Bwin.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City | Sunday 08.07 | BT Sport 1
Sunday’s tie is well worth skipping morning mass for. Sorry church folk, football’s my religion. The A-League finals travel to New Zealand’s North Island and the capital city of Wellington. The Westpac Stadium is a cracking venue for such a game. Nicknamed the Cake-Tin, the stadium recently hosted England’s dismal defeat to the Black Caps in the Cricket World Cup and should be filled to the rafters.
Wellington have been a surprise package this season. They’ve a fearsome front three that’s been incredibly prolific. Between them, Roy Krishna, Michael McGlinchey and Nathan Burns have fired 27 goals. Well over half of Phoenix’s 42 in the A-League.
Melbourne City were hammered by Adelaide last weekend but City had nothing to play for with their final standings already decided whilst Adelaide needed the win to clinch fourth and home advantage in the Finals. City (formerly Melbourne Heart) have won just one of their last 11 meetings with Wellington. They lost here 5-1 back in November but returned in February in much better shape and held out for a bore draw.
Melbourne are quite a dirty team and in the three meetings with Wellington this season they have received more cards in every game and lead with an aggregate of 11 to Wellington’s two. They have also had four red cards this season and one in each of their last two games. That poor discipline saw them concede penalties to Phoenix in two of the three meetings this season.
Wellington have conceded an average of two goals-per-game in their last six at home, prior to that they had conceded just five in their opening seven home games. Wellington are definitely out of form at the back and I think John van ‘t Schip’s side will take advantage of that.
Melbourne City started the season in a joyous mood. David Villa was on loan for a few weeks as Melbourne are owned by City’s Sheikh Mansour but he never really got going and was later moved on to their latest asset New York City FC. There’s no hiding from the fact that Phoenix are considerably better both at the back and going forward.
Wellington might have lost three of their last four at home but they were all to Victory and Sydney FC who finished first and second respectively. Their only other home league defeat was their opener against Perth Glory who were very quick out the blocks.
I think Phoenix will edge this but it’s a knockout game and that pressure could get the better of them. I can also see City scoring at least once so a safer bet is probably Wellington to score two or more goals. In such a high scoring league it adds that bit of security and it’s a bet that would have won in 12 of Phoenix’s 14 league victories this season.
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar – Both Teams To Score (7/10 Ladbrokes)
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar – Brisbane Roar to win and Both Teams To Score (7/1 Bwin)
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City – Wellington Phoenix to score Over 1.5 Goals (1/1 Bet365)
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City – Wellington Phoenix to score a penalty (13/2 Paddy Power)