The Finals series in the A-League gets underway this weekend, as the four lowest-ranked sides left in the competition fight for a place in the semi-finals. Melbourne City and Sydney FC lie in wait for the winning teams this weekend, but which soccer predictions should be made on the Elimination-finals?
Central Coast Mariners vs Macarthur FC
The highest-ranked side in the Elimination-finals is the Central Coast Mariners, and they will be looking to overcome Macarthur FC to set up a semi-final showdown against Sydney FC.
The Mariners ended the season in strong form to secure their place in third. However, they were still five points behind Sydney FC, who could be their potential opponents in the semi-finals. Central Coast won 12 of the 26 games that they played in the regular season, which was just a single victory less than the tally recorded by Sydney FC. However, they were far easier to beat throughout the regular season, as they lost eight games, which was three more than Sydney and two more than Melbourne City.
They come into the Finals Series with the third-worst defensive record of the remaining teams involved, as they conceded 31 goals during the regular season. Their form in their last three league games was fairly consistent, as they won twice and were beaten on just one occasion. The Mariners brought a close to their season with a 2-0 victory at home against Western United, with Jack Clisby and Marco Urena scoring the goals in the win.
Macarthur FC just about made it into the finals, as they finished in sixth place of the league standings. That finish means that they will have a more difficult route to the Grand Final, as they will need to come up against Melbourne City in the semi-finals if they beat the Mariners.
Macarthur will be considered the massive outsiders to win the competition, as they lost the joint-highest number of games during the regular season, and scored the fewest goals. Only the teams in the bottom three places scored fewer goals than Macarthur during the regular season. Macarthur also come into the finals series in terrible form, as they have lost two of their last three games. They were hammered on the final day of the regular season by Wellington Phoenix, as the travelling side picked up a 3-0 win.
Macarthur come into the Finals Series with no momentum behind them, and that could be pivotal against a team like the Mariners, who have been in decent form. We would expect the Mariners to get the win they need to set up a showdown with Sydney FC.
Brisbane Roar vs Adelaide United
There will be an interesting eliminator in the other game in the Finals Series, as the sides that finished the regular season in fourth and fifth meet for a place in the semi-finals. The winners of this game will come up against Melbourne City if the Mariners beat Macarthur.
The Brisbane Roar finished just ahead of Adelaide in the regular season, as they finished the campaign with 40 points from the 26 games that they played. They won eleven times during the regular season, and were beaten on eight occasions. The Roar also scored 36 goals in the games that they played, but have an excellent defensive record, as they have the second-best record of the teams still in the Finals Series.
Brisbane endured an indifferent end to the campaign, as they won just two of their last four games. They were beaten on the final day of the season by Sydney FC, while they also suffered a defeat against the Western Sydney Warriors. Their only two wins to close the season was a victory against Melbourne City, and an unconvincing 2-1 victory against Perth Glory.
Adelaide United finished a place below the Roar in the league standings. There was just a point separating the two sides, which could prove crucial, as Adelaide could have had home advantage should they have finished above their rivals. Like Brisbane, Adelaide also won eleven games in the regular season, but were beaten on one more occasion.
They were among the highest scorers in the league out of the sides left standings, as only Melbourne City scored more during the regular season. However, defensively they were extremely vulnerable. No team remaining in the Finals Series conceded more than the 41 that Adelaide did in the regular season. That would be a slight concern ahead of the big games that they have upcoming. Adelaide won just once in their last four league games, while they conceded eight goals over this run of fixtures. They ended the season with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Western Sydney, with Craig Goodwin getting his name on the scoresheet.
This fixture could go either way, as neither side are consistent enough to know whether they will turn up. However, the slight preference is for Brisbane, as they were tougher to beat near to the end of the season. They come into this game in better form, and they should have the quality to get over the line and make the semi-finals.