Eventually, and somewhat surprisingly, the 2021 A-League season looks like it will be completed on time with the Elimination Finals kicking off this weekend.
The A-League, like many competitions, has been forced to endure border closures, weather postponements and a whole lot more but we are finally here.
What has been arguably the most entertaining campaign in the last few seasons will draw to a close over the coming fortnight as the six remaining A-League teams battle for the coveted Championship.
It’s a wide open field that will be reduced to four teams following this weekend with Melbourne City and Sydney FC awaiting the winners.
Read on and see who we are backing in this weekend’s A-League Elimination Finals here.
Central Coast Mariners
Saturday 12 June, 7:05pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast 0 – Macarthur 2 (A.E.T)
After a seven year absence, the Central Coast Mariners are back in the A-League Finals and will host their first postseason game since a 1-0 win over Adelaide United on April 19, 2014.
The Alen Stajcic project has paid huge dividends in Gosford with the Mariners enjoying their best finish since 2014 and unearthing some of the most exciting young prospects in Australian football.
While the initial hype of the Mariners winning the Premiership might have died off around the midseason mark, they are still a very strong squad even with some players away on international duty.
Not to mention the Mariners will take plenty of confidence having defeated Macarthur on all three occasions that the teams met during the season.
The Bulls had a horrid run in to the finals getting pounded by Wellington 3-0 in their final regular season game which also saw Frenchman Loic Puyo sent off.
Macarthur deserves plenty of credit for starting their life as an A-League club in the middle of a pandemic and making the finals but their debut season will come to an end here.
I’ll back the Mariners to get home in 90 minutes and make it four from four against the A-League’s new boys.
Back Central Coast to Win (90 Minutes) @ $2.02
Sunday 13 June, 3:05pm, Moreton Daily Stadium
Brisbane 1 – Adelaide 2
Finals football returns to Brisbane for the first time since April 2017 as they host Adelaide in an A-League Finals match for the first time in their history.
The three previous meetings were in the City of Churches with Adelaide winning the 2008 Preliminary Final 1-0 before Brisbane claimed the 2013 Elimination Final 2-1 in a spiteful encounter.
In the 2015 Elimination Final a late goal from Awer Mabil decided a back and forth match.
Not that those matches will have bearing on what we see this coming Sunday with both teams plagued by inconsistency over the course of the season.
For the Roar they will be in the luxurious position of having eight days rest before this match after needing to play 11 times in the final 38 days of the season to catch up on all of their postponements.
That rest could prove to be a huge boost for a Roar side that has managed to maintain plenty of depth across the pitch, even when injuries took hold.
As for Adelaide they showed that they have one of the most dynamic attacking teams in the competition on their day but have stumbled to the finish line, winning just two of their last ten matches.
It was only four weeks ago that the Reds took full advantage of a depleted Roar team grinding out a 1-0 win at home.
However this looks like it will be a very different scenario with the Roar back on their home turf, well rested and raring to put on a show.
Brisbane never does it easy come finals time but the fact that they will be fresh is the difference for me here.
Back Brisbane to Win (90 Minutes) @ $2.35
It’s been a long journey but after over 10 months we are finally ready to kick off the 2020 A-League Finals.
Premiers Sydney FC and Melbourne City have a bye through the first round this weekend and will be waiting in Wednesday’s Semi Finals with every match taking place at Bankwest Stadium.
Facing off in the win or go home contests this weekend will be Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory on Saturday before Brisbane and Western United renew hostilities on Sunday.
We’re previewing both matches right here so read on to see who we are backing.
Saturday 22 August, 5:00pm, Bankwest Stadium
Wellington 0 – Perth 1
It is nothing short of phenomenal that after last season’s effort, the massive turnover at the club and having a rookie manager, the Nix managed to finish the season in third place.
While we all would have loved to see them host Perth in Wellington, this will have to do for Ufuk Talay’s men.
Wellington isn’t exactly in great form heading into this match, winning just once since the competition’s restart, but they have shown a battling quality which is hard to ignore.
Perth on the other hand have not looked at all interested at times, despite defeating Central Coast and the Wanderers in the hub, they have also managed to give up 12 goals in their last four matches.
There’s value to be had on Wellington in 90 minutes so that’s the play here.
Back Wellington to Win (90 Minutes) @ $2.50
Sunday 23 August, 6:00pm, Bankwest Stadium
Brisbane 0 – Western United 1
In their first A-League season, Western United have formed a decent rivalry with the Roar, with the clubs clashing on multiple occasions during the season.
Their most recent dispute has been resolved however with Roar striker Scott McDonald eligible to play in this contest after not being allowed to play in their most recent meeting in February.
Not that the strikers for either team will have a whole lot of opportunities in this match, everything about this one points towards us being treated to a defensively dominated contest.
Brisbane conceded the second lowest number of goals in the league, allowing just 28 goals in 26 matches, a far cry from the 71 in 27 last season while Mark Rudan is always a manager that prioritises a clean sheet, especially in matches such as this.
The first meeting finished 2-0 to Western United before the Roar took the second one 1-0 in Ballarat, so don’t be at all surprised if this is a case of first team to score wins.
As such, there’s decent value in backing a low scoring match that could go either way.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $1.85
After 27 rounds it’s now win or go home time as the A-League Finals Series gets underway this weekend.
Premiers Perth and Sydney FC await the winners of this weekend while the losers are left to deal with an earlier than ideal end to their season.
The Victory and Phoenix have played out some classic games this season while Adelaide and City are very familiar with one another thanks to plenty of player movement.
Check out our previews and plays for both A-League Elimination Finals this weekend.
Friday 3 May, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 3 – Wellington 1
Thanks to a massive final round goal difference swing, the Phoenix dropped down to sixth spot and booked a trip to AAMI Park to face the defending champions.
You haven’t been able to separate these two teams so far this season with all three meetings ending in draws.
Even before the Phoenix confirmed Mark Rudan was leaving the team at the end of this season, there were some worrying signs about their away form in the run home.
With just one win from their last eight away games and three straight losses in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, it’s hard to see the Nix being able to match Melbourne’s intensity here.
The Victory haven’t been lighting up to scoreboard in the league lately with two or fewer goals in every game since February 2.
After last season though, it’s hard to count them out and Kevin Muscat has the better squad at his disposal.
With the likes of Honda, Barbarouses and Toivonen on hand, the Victory should be able to break the deadlock and pick up a win.
To add a bit of value to this play though, you can also throw in the Both Teams to Score Market which has hit in six of Wellington’s last seven games.
Back the Victory to Win and Both Teams to Score @ $3.30
Sunday 5 May, 7:00pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 1 – Melbourne City 0 (A.E.T)
Thanks to a 5-0 thumping of Central Coast and Wellington’s no-show in Perth, City jumped up to fifth place and arguably got a better matchup, while also denying us another Melbourne Derby.
There’s been plenty of player movement between these two sides which will add a little bit more intrigue to this fixture.
It’s been seven straight games against City without a win for Adelaide with four losses and three draws but their form going into this game is undeniable.
Three wins and two draws helped catapult them up to fourth place and earn hosting rights for this final.
They did put five past Brisbane last Thursday but that does come with the caveat of Brisbane being the worst defence in A-League history.
Outside of their games against Brisbane, they have only scored more than two goals in a game once since November 30.
With Adelaide’s goalscoring woes, the nature of finals football and quite honestly the fact this game really could go either way, I’m steering clear of the 90 minute result market in this game.
Instead the play for this game is to back a low scoring encounter with just one or two goals getting the job done.
Under 2.5 Goals @ $1.87
Another A-League regular season is in the books and the six teams competing for the Championship are ready to go.
Premiers Sydney and runners up Newcastle will be enjoying a well earned weekend off as they can scout their next opponent.
Brisbane and Melbourne City will meet in the finals for the first time in their history however there is a long history of hostility between the two clubs with several fractious encounters in their history.
In the other semi-final it is a rematch of the 2007 and 2009 Grand Finals as Melbourne Victory and Adelaide face off Sunday night.
Read on for our A-League Finals preview and picks for both matches.
Friday 20 April, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 2 - Brisbane Roar 0
It came down to the final half hour of the regular season but the Roar have scraped into the finals.
As their reward they get a trip to face coach John Aloisi’s former employers Melbourne City at a venue where they do not enjoy playing at all.
The Roar’s run to the finals has been built on solid away form and springing teams on the counter and you would expect them to have their share of chances as City will look to go onto the attack.
Despite City losing to Wellington last weekend their star striker Bruno Fornaroli is looking in ominous form and would be drooling at the prospect of facing an injury depleted Roar defence.
Under John Aloisi, the Roar are 0-2 away from Suncorp Stadium in finals play and I am backing City to get the job done in 90 minutes this Friday.
Back Melbourne City to Win in 90 Minutes @ $1.85
Sunday 22 April, 6:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 2 - Adelaide United 1
An evenly split season series will be decided in the second match of the Finals series.
Victory won the last meeting with Adelaide at this venue 3-0 but they did suffer a 2-1 loss in December across town at Etihad Stadium in December.
Since losing to the Roar in early February, the Victory have won four straight at AAMI Park and the crowd will be right behind them.
Adelaide enter the finals on a high note after eliminating Western Sydney in Sydney last weekend so they will not be too worried about having to do the job on the road.
As winners of four of their last five, they will be feeling very confident and their coach Marco Kurz will be making decisions to win this game, rather than just survive.
This has the makings of a tight, low scoring battle that will be decided in extra time so I’m going to back the 90 minute draw.
Back the Draw in 90 Minutes @ $3.40
The 2017 A-League Finals get underway this weekend and we are set for two highly competitive elimination-finals.
The Brisbane Roar were eliminated from the A-League Finals by the Western Sydney Wanderers last year and they have the chance to eliminate their rivals in 2017, while Melbourne City and Perth Glory do battle for the second weekend in a row.
We have closely analysed both A-League elimination finals and below you can find our recommended betting plays for these crucial clashes.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 21 April, 7:50pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Roar 1 (6) - Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (5)
The Brisbane Roar finished the A-League season in third position and they will go into this clash with the Western Sydney Wanderers as clear favourites.
Brisbane came from 3-1 down to beat the Wellington Phoenix 4-3 and they have now won three of their past four games.
The Roar have been very tough to beat at Suncorp Stadium this season and they have won seven of their past 11 games as home favourites this year for a clear profit.
Western Sydney have struggled for consistency this season, but they have found a semblance of their best form at the right time and have not been beaten for almost two months.
Winning away from home has been an issue for Western Sydney and they have won just two of their past 11 games as away underdogs.
Brisbane have been the more reliable side in the A-League this season and they should be able to progress to the semi-finals.
Back Brisbane To Win @ $2.10
Sunday 23 April, 7:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 0 - Perth Glory 2
Perth Glory scored a thrilling 5-4 victory over Melbourne City last Sunday, but it is Melbourne City that will start this clash as clear favourites.
Melbourne City are a different team in front of their home fans at AAMI Park and they have won seven of their past ten games as home favourites for a clear profit, while they are 6-2-2 on the back of a loss.
Perth head into the finals on the back of two impressive wins over A-League Finals rivals, but they don’t have the benefit of home ground advantage in this clash.
The Glory have won only two of their past ten games as away underdogs and winning back-to-back games has also been a problem.
Melbourne City will start this clash as deserving favourites and should be able to keep alive their hopes of a maiden A-League Championship.
Back Melbourne City To Win @ $1.91
The 2016 A-League Finals get underway this weekend with a pair of what should be two very exciting semi-finals.
The Brisbane Roar blew a golden opportunity to claim the Premiers’ Plate when they failed to beat the Melbourne Victory last weekend, but they can gain revenge on their rivals in the first Elimination Final.
Melbourne City and Perth Glory both suffered disappointing losses in the final round of the A-League regular season and they will do battle in the second Elimination Final on Sunday afternoon.
Friday 15 April, 7:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Roar 2 - Melbourne Victory 1
The Brisbane Roar were unable to break down the Melbourne Victory when they played at AAMI Park last Saturday night, but they will still start this game as clear favourites.
The Roar created enough opportunities to win a couple of games last weekend, but they failed to take their chances and they can’t afford a repeat of that again on Friday night.
Brisbane have been outstanding in front of their home fans this season and their record of 12-2-1 as home favourites this season cannot be ignored ahead of this fixture and they are clearly the team to beat.
The Victory fell away in the second half of the A-League season and just over a month ago they were beaten by the Roar 5-0, but this is a side that has a big game pedigree and they will be buoyed by the fact that Besart Berisha will return for suspension.
Melbourne have been far from a profitable betting team away from home this season – they have won five from 15 games away from AAMI Stadium – and they have won only a single game as away underdogs this season.
I don’t expect the Roar to make the same mistakes that they made last weekend and I am confident that they will get the job done on Friday night.
Recommended Bet: Back The Brisbane Roar To Win @ $2.05
Melbourne City FC
Sunday 17 April, 5:00pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 2 - Perth Glory 0
This is set to be an outstanding game of football and it would not surprise me if the winner of this fixutre made it all the way to the Grand Final.
Melbourne City looked as though they would make a run for the Premier’s Plate after their dominant win over the Brisbane Roar on March 18, but they head into the finals on the back of losses to both Perth and Adelaide United.
They still go into this elimination final fixture as clear favourites and they are another side that has proven hard to beat in front of their home fans this season, with the side going 8-3 as home favourites this season, but their record against the Perth Glory is very poor.
Perth have been a highly profitable betting team across the majority of metrics this season and they have won more than half their games as underdogs this season, while they are 4-1-6 as away underdogs.
The Glory beat Melbourne City earlier this month and if you forget their incredibly poor performance against Sydney FC they have been the form team in the A-League in the past six weeks.
There really is not a great deal between these two teams and the market should be far closer than it currently is, which makes the Glory excellent value at their current odds.
Recommended Bet: Back The Perth Glory To Win @ $3.40