The final round of regular-season games in the A-League takes place this weekend, as teams will be looking for vital points to book their spot in the Finals Series. Melbourne City have already booked their place in the semi-finals as the Premier winners, but the spaces below them are still very much up for grabs. But, what soccer predictions should fans make on games this weekend?
Brisbane Roar vs Sydney FC
The biggest match this weekend will have huge implications on playoff positions in the A-League. Sydney FC will need one final win to secure their second-place finish and an easier route through the finals. Meanwhile, Brisbane Roar will also need a positive result on the final matchday to ensure that they qualify for the finals series.
Sydney FC could still finish the season as low as third, which would mean a more challenging route to the Grand Final. There is a huge difference between the two positions when it comes to the finals series. A second-place finish would mean that Sydney will enter the post-season in the semi-final stages, while a third-place finish would mean that Sydney would need the qualify for the semi-finals by winning an elimination-finals match-up against the team that finishes in sixth. That means that this weekend’s regular-season fixture could be a dress rehearsal for the match that we see potentially next week.
Sydney will be aware that the sides below them are closing in, which means that only a win will do. However, their recent form has been extremely strong, as they are the in-form side in the A-League over the past five matchdays. They have won four of their five games, which includes four straight victories coming into this fixture at the weekend. Sydney’s most recent win was a comprehensive 4-1 success against Adelaide United, with Adam Le Fondre bagging a brace, and Bobo and Patrick Wood also getting on the scoresheet.
Brisbane Roar will feel as though they deserve a place in the finals series this season, as they have been competitive throughout the season. They were as high as second in the league earlier in the season, but a run of negative results saw them drop down the standings to as low as seventh. They have been able to rediscover some positive form over recent weeks, but a run of two defeats in four means that their place in the finals series is still not assured.
Defeat for Brisbane this weekend could leave the door open for either Wellington Phoenix or Western Sydney to pounce. Brisbane were beaten in their last A-League fixture by Western Sydney, as they suffered a 2-0 loss.
The stakes are huge for both teams this weekend, but the form of the two sides could be the biggest indicator that Sydney should take the win. The travelling side has been excellent over their last five fixtures, and that momentum could be key going into the finals series.
Macarthur FC vs Wellington Phoenix
One side that will have a very close eye on the outcome of the game between Sydney and Brisbane this weekend will be Wellington Phoenix. Any kind of slip up from the Roar would open the door for Phoenix to steal the final finals spot in the A-League.
The Phoenix are currently two points behind Brisbane, but have a far superior goal difference. A draw for Brisbane coupled with victory for Wellington would mean that the Phoenix will steal the sixth and final spot in the finals. Phoenix have been one of the most difficult teams to beat in the A-League over the past couple of weeks, as they haven’t lost in five league games.
However, they have won just twice. Wellington could only draw last time out, as they were held at home by Perth Glory. Phoenix had to strike back late in that game through Jaushua Sotirio, who netted the equaliser with just ten minutes remaining. Things had been going very well for Phoenix earlier in the game, as they led through Tomer Hemed, before Perth turned the game on its head in the space of 13 second-half minutes.
Macarthur FC have already booked their place in the finals. However, it is still to be decided which position they will finish the regular season in. They could finish the season as high as third, which would mean a potential showdown with Sydney FC if they can make it through the first round of the finals. However, defeat this weekend against Wellington, as well as results going against them in other fixtures, could see them drop to as low as sixth. That outcome would mean an eliminator match against the team that finishes in third, before then potentially coming up against Melbourne City if they can get past that eliminator.
Phoenix will have the bigger incentive to get the win this weekend, as they could face missing out on the finals. However, Macarthur will also be keen to avoid a difficult run of fixtures in the finals. Both sides will need to try and claim maximum points, which could make for an entertaining game. However, we believe that the travelling side will continue their fine form by claiming a third win in four games.