The A-League will reach its semi-final stages this weekend, as only four teams are left standing. Both games look set to be entertaining affairs on paper, but which teams should be included in gamblers soccer predictions to make it through to the Grand Final?
Sydney FC vs Adelaide United
It has been a long season for both Sydney FC and Adelaide United, but both will be looking to find the extra energy from somewhere to ensure that their season doesn’t come to a close at the semi-final stage.
Sydney FC will be the clear favourites in the betting for this huge semi-final on Saturday, as they finished higher in the league standings than Adelaide United. Add to that the fact that they hammered Adelaide 4-1 on the penultimate round of fixtures in the regular season; many will consider that Sydney will have more than enough to get past their rivals. Sydney have all the experience at this stage of the season, as they famously won the Grand Final last year courtesy of a goal in the 100th minute by Rhyan Grant against Melbourne City.
Sydney only narrowly finished below Melbourne in the regular season, as they were two points below the premier champions. However, Sydney lost fewer times and had the best defensive record in the A-League. Their form couldn’t be much stronger coming into this fixture, as they have won their last five games. Their most recent win came in the last game of the regular season, as they beat Brisbane Roar 2-0, with goals being scored by Kosta Barbarouses and Harry Van Der Saag.
Adelaide United stumbled into the Elimination Final last weekend, as they won just once in their last four fixtures. That victory came at the end of May against Melbourne Victory. However, they produced one of their best performances of the season in the Elimination Final to edge past the Brisbane Roar. United did the damage early in the game, with both of their goals being scored in the opening 20 minutes by Tomi Juric. They were holding on slightly in the closing stages, but few would deny that they deserved their place at this stage in the competition.
Adelaide and Sydney have played on 56 previous occasions, with Sydney holding the narrow advantage, having won on 23 occasions compared to the 22 wins recorded by Adelaide. However, despite a narrow head to head record, it looks pretty clear that Sydney are the side with all the momentum being them coming into this fixture.
Melbourne City vs Macarthur FC
The side that finished the regular season at the top of the league table return to action this weekend in their semi-final against Macarthur FC. Melbourne have certainly looked irresistible throughout the season, as they look to finally avenge the defeat that they suffered against Sydney FC in the Grand Final last season.
Melbourne City will be looking to finally get their hands on the Grand Final title this season after coming up short in the last two campaigns. They were beaten in the Grand Final by Sydney last season, while they were beaten by Adelaide United in the elimination finals the season before. This has undeniably been the best season in their history, as they topped the regular season table.
However, they were beaten on seven occasions in the 27 games that they played. Regardless, no team won more games during the regular campaign, as they picked up 15 wins. It was their talent in the attacking third that was so often the difference between them and their rivals. They scored 57 goals in the 26 games that they played. However, there are a team that can look defensively vulnerable, as they let in 32 goals, which is greater than a goal against every game.
Macarthur have enjoyed an excellent season in the A-League this term, as they have reached the playoffs in their very first season in the league. However, Melbourne City may be one of the few sides that they would have been keen to avoid in the post-season, as they are one of just two sides that they have failed to beat this season.
Macarthur finished the regular season in sixth, which meant that they just snuck into the eliminator finals. They won eleven games during the regular season, but were beaten on nine occasions. Macarthur were the lowest-scoring team to qualify for the post-season, as they hit the back of the net on just 33 occasions. Only three sides in the league scored fewer.
However, they would have taken a lot of positives from their performance in the elimination final, as they saw off the Central Coast Mariners in extra time. They were forced to play the whole additional period with ten men after the sending off for James Meredith. However, Charles M’Mombwa opened the scoring three minutes into the extra period. They wrapped up their famous win at the very end of the game, with Michael Ruhs scoring in the 121st minute.
There is no doubt that Macarthur have enjoyed an excellent debut campaign in the A-League. However, this will be a big challenge for them to overcome. Melbourne have had the additional rest period, and it looks likely that they will set up a Grand Final rematch against Sydney FC.