Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC:
Could this have been scripted any better? The ninth edition of the finals in the A-League will be led off by one of the biggest rivalries in Australian sport at the moment in the form of a Big Blue. There is a clear disdain felt between these two clubs, so there is no better way to kick off the business end of the season by pitching these two bitter rivals head-to-head on Good Friday.
Sydney travel south of the border with the psychological edge over the Victory with two wins from there three matches this season, with the other being a draw. This is sure to play into the equation of this encounter. However, it is virtually a start-from-scratch scenario, with the league now rolling into the finals format.
Both managers have recognised this and will simply have to treat this like a cup fixture, with elimination staring both sides bang in the face. This is sure to spur both sides to lift their games and ensure this outcome is not reached at the end of 90 minutes – or the end of 120 minutes for all we know.
One thing is certain – this will be an epic occasion for all football fans around the country, in particular supporters of both clubs. Expect a classic but a tight one to pick. Sydney FC 2-1 AET.
Central Coast v Adelaide United:
This match on Saturday night will pit third and sixth against one another. The Central Coast stumbled their way to the finish line, but picked themselves up with their last round fixture in Brisbane, with a 2-0 victory coming to the surprise of many.
The Mariners were clearly out to prove a point to the rest of the league that they are not going to concede their crown easily and the rest of sides in the finals will need to lift their game to get past the champions.
The traveling side, Adelaide United, finished the league in sixth position, and could well have been in the scenario their opposition are in. Their inconsistency during the development of their understanding of the new game plan under Josep Gombau has been the primary factor, and they are a side that will only get better in the years to come – should Gombau remain at the helm.
The Reds have the necessary ammunition to bring down the reigning champions at Bluetongue, but their form in the last month would suggest otherwise.
However, don’t expect the Reds to cave in, in this elimination match. They will fight to the death that’s for sure. This will definitely be a tight encounter and I actually think it will go to penalties, in which the Mariners will prevail. CCM 1-1 (win on penalties).