FANCY some early morning action this weekend? Ooo er! Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) gives us his best bets from the Australian league.
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City | Friday 10:37 | BT Sport 1
These two Neighbours have more history than Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan (sorry that was a howler I know but I promised I’d drop Kylie in this week’s article)! It’s a short history, granted, but they’ve racked up 15 meetings in Melbourne City’s five year history and are developing quite the rivalry. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
City were known as Heart last season but they shook that namby-pamby name off under their new Sheikh owners at the beginning of 2014/15 and that looks to have had an immediate impact with this just their second appearance in the A-League Finals and a rosier record to boot after their Quarter-Final success in New Zealand last weekend.
I didn’t see them winning in NZ but all credit to them, they did a job on Wellington Phoenix and in fine fashion. The Victoria derby has been quite evenly fought with six wins for Victory, five for City and four draws since 2010 so head to heads are pretty meaningless here.
Both sides play the majority of their games at AAMI Park but this being a derby and a semi-final it will be played at the stadium in the Docklands. That won’t bother Victory though as they’ve won eight of 11 games at Etihad and call it their own and with a 45,000+ crowd expected and the majority in their navy blue colours they’ve every right to be confident.
Victory ended the season in fine fashion winning five of their last six games; a run that won them the Premiers Plate. They lost just four games in the 27-game regular season and were by far the best team in the competition but one of those four defeats came at the hands of their rivals, and today’s opponents, Melbourne City so they should not be complacent.
Victory have the best front three in the A-League and in their two wins over City this season they scored a total of eight goals; seven of which were scored by the front three of Archie Thompson, Besart Berisha and Kosta Barbarouses.
Archie Thompson is getting on a bit but remains the A-League’s top ever scorer and has that poacher’s mentality. Combine him with the pace and trickery of Kostas Barbarouses on the right-wing and last season’s top scorer Bersat Berisha leading the line and you have a formula for success Down Under.
I wrongly sided with City’s opponents last weekend but I’m willing to give it another bash here. Victory are the best side in this league and I think that will shine through. At Even money I’m keeping this simple with the two-time A-League Finals winners Melbourne Victory to win.
Sydney FC v Adelaide United | Saturday 10:37
This is a tricky one because whilst Sydney’s second place finish granted them home advantage in the Semi-Final it doesn’t really look to be much of an advantage for the Sky Blues.
Sydney were the best away side in the A-League this season; 10 of their 14 wins came on the road where they were incredibly unbeaten all season. To go unbeaten away from home in a division with such vast distances between some clubs is really impressive. They also scored 33 of their 52 league goals away from home.
Adelaide were decent on the road too and they took firm advantage of Sydney’s poor home form in the regular season winning twice in New South Wales without conceding a goal. Sydney won just four of their 13 home games and with that head to head record against United the 5/4 on the home win is a big swerve.
Adelaide United are unbeaten in seven against Sydney FC but they have an inferior finals record; in six appearances in the post-season the Reds have never won the trophy and finished runner-up twice whereas Sydney FC have won it twice from six attempts and never lost in the final.
Sydney haven’t played at home since 4th April when they lost to Adelaide 1-0. That score-line completely flattered Adelaide though as they were on the back foot for pretty much the whole game. It’s six games since Adelaide scored more than once away from home and even with playmaker Marcelo Carrusca back in the fray I’m not expecting them to end that run.
I think this is going to be a tight one. Interestingly all three meetings between the sides this season were 0-0 at half-time and that’s the best bet at Allianz Stadium for me.
I’ll also have a small play on Marc Janko to score the opening goal. He’s a big powerful forward with a clinical touch. Janko’s 16 goal season thrust him to the top of the A-League goal scoring chart and I can’t see Adelaide making it four clean sheets in a row against the Sky Blues in such a big game atmosphere.