Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United:
What a way to start the last round of the regular A-League season. Both sides have plenty riding on this match. One side with greater expectations than the other at this stage of the season. Whilst the other is praying for a miracle to be performed in the same echelon to that of Moses parting the Red Sea.
Adelaide United travel to Hunter Stadium on Friday night with so many permutations available to their finals campaign it is leaving everyone in a spin. If they lose they could fall to fifth and have to travel in the first week. Win and they could finish as high as second depending on the outcome of CCM and WSW matches later in the round. A win will guarantee the Reds a home final at Hindmarsh Stadium, is the definite target for Josep Gombau’s men.
As for the Jets it is plain and simple. Win and they throw their hat back in the ring, albeit dependent on other results in the league. Lose, and no finals beckon for another season. There is plenty riding on this fixture, with these respective scenarios sure to make it an epic encounter to start Round 27 of the A-League. Adelaide 2-1.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory:
It is a contrast in the attitudes that each team must take into this early kick off on Saturday. The Phoenix enter this last match of the season with nothing to play for but pride, as any chances of making the finals were evaporated in bleak and damp conditions in Sydney last week after their hiding at the hands of Sydney FC.
Ernie Merrick’s men will be looking to put in a respectable performance in front of the home faithful, who will feel that their side underachieved this season, especially with a two-time A-League winning coach at the helm.Some players are playing for contracts for next season.
The Victory on the other hand, have every chance of finishing between second and sixth, so a win is imperative to give themselves a chance of a second bite at the cherry at best, whilst a home final is a realistic outcome should they win and other results fall in their favour.
Kevin Muscat will be expecting nothing less, but the last time they travelled across the Tasman they had their pants dropped in front of the entire league with a 5-0 thumping dished out by the Phoenix. Muscat will hope that déjà vu doesn’t rear its ugly head. Phoenix 2-1.
Melbourne Heart v Western Sydney Wanderers:
We have a similar scenario down at AAMI Park when the Heart face the boys from Sydney’s west. The Heart are out of the running for the finals, but a win against the Wanderers will put the pressure on Perth to win and avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Heart manager John Van’t Schip will be expecting a lot from his players, with a handful of players off contract at season’s end and with plenty to play for in that sense.
The Wanderers are in the same boots as the Victory, with a win going to guarantee them second place in the league and a first week final match against the Premiers’ Brisbane. A loss and they could slip into the mix of sides behind them. Should all sides below them win, then the WSW will need to travel in the first week of the finals in an elimination scenario.
Tony Popovic will want his side to avoid that prospect and will be prepping his side as best as possible to ensure they don’t put themselves in that situation. They will have that little bit more class than the Heart, and will produce the goods to remain the second best side in the league at regular season’s end. WSW 2-0.
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners:
The Mariners travel to the Sunshine State with plenty of their season at stake. They have slipped away in recent weeks, and last week’s defeat in the west to the Glory was the tip of the iceberg.
They were convincingly beaten by Perth, and now face the uphill task to win in Brisbane to guarantee a home final in week one should WSW win. It appears the Mariners’ Asian Champions League campaign is beginning to take its toll on the reigning A-League champions, thus making it a tough ask against the Premiers of the competition.
The Roar rarely give you inch on their home turf, let alone an A-League competition point. They will want to show off their class one again in their last regular season game at home and show exactly why they are the competition’s best.
The Roar will finish the season with three points, and the Mariners will be made to travel once again in the first week of the finals, with elimination staring them in the face. Brisbane 2-1.
Sydney FC v Perth Glory:
The last game of the regular season will see the sixth-placed Sydney FC face off against the Perth Glory, who are coming off the high of knocking off the Mariners last week at nib Stadium.
For the Sky Blues, it is an interesting equation they face. The reason is that all could be out of their hands depending on results from earlier in the weekend, or in contrast, they could have everything to play for with regards to finishing somewhere between second and sixth.
This raises the issue once again of playing all fixtures in the last round at the same time, but that is another issue for another day. Should the four teams above them lose or drop points, they could very well finish with a home final when they nearly missed out on a final at all.
The Glory on the other hand must win to ensure that they don’t finish bottom of the league, especially if the Heart cause an upset against the second-placed Wanderers. There is plenty riding on this clash and what an intriguing conclusion we could have to the A-League’s ninth season. Sydney 2-0.