Almost six months to the day after the 2021 A-League season began, Melbourne City and Sydney FC will face off for the right to be called Champions of Australia.
It is the same two clubs that competed in last year’s decider at Bankwest Stadium, however with restrictions easing in Melbourne, the premiers will be able to host the finale at AAMI Park with 15000 fans in attendance.
Sydney FC won that arm wrestle thanks to an extra time goal from Rhyan Grant, and they will be chasing a historic third consecutive Grand Final win on Sunday.
As for Melbourne City, they will make their second A-League Grand Final appearance and look to complete a season double having already lifted the Premiers’ Plate.
Sunday 27 June, 5:05pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 3 – Sydney FC 1
How They Got Here
Melbourne City responded to their defeat in 2020 by adding more quality to their already talented squad.
Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout, Portuguese defender Nuno Reis and even young gun Marco Tilio all proved to be valuable assets as City went on a tear this season.
After losing four of their first six, Patrick Kisborbo’s side won 13 and drew three of their next 17 matches which ended with the Premiers Plate being claimed with three games to spare.
It was hardly an ideal preparation for the finals with a pair of defeats and a lockdown forcing their Semi Final with Macarthur to be played in Sydney.
Despite missing a number of key players, including Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren, City held off Macarthur to book their spot in the Grand Final.
It feels strange to say that Sydney had a below par season but such are the lofty standards they have set during their dynastic run that losing just five games all season and finishing two points behind the Premiers is a disappointment.
However, it took until their 22nd match of the season for the side to show any consistency when Adam Le Fondre and Bobo were united up front following the former’s return from India.
Since their 1-0 win over Western United, the Sky Blues have been borderline unstoppable, claiming six in a row heading into this Grand Final.
They are chasing history as they seek to become the first side to win six A-League deciders and also the first to win three in a row.
Grand Final Stalemates
Historically, A-League Grand Finals have been full of drama and suspense, producing some of the most memorable footballing moments.
While they may have been dramatic matches, they also have been incredibly low scoring with 11 of the 15 played, including the last four, finishing with two or fewer goals after 90 minutes.
All bar one of Sydney’s Grand Final appearances have gone under 2.5 goals with the exception coming at the same venue as Sunday’s decider when they were dismantled 3-0 by the Victory.
Last season City had a goal disallowed in the first half as the match finished scoreless and went into extra time before Rhyan Grant’s chest gave Sydney its fifth championship.
The general expectation with these sudden death fixtures is that both sides will set out to play conservatively and avoid the sort of stupid mistakes that would cost them the match.
Consider that when betting this match.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $2.05
Back 0-0 Draw (90 Minutes) @ $12.00
The Difference Makers
At full strength the most dangerous player in this fixture would be City striker Jamie Maclaren who comfortably won the A-League Golden Boot for 2021.
Unfortunately for both Maclaren and City, he is unavailable having participated in the Socceroos World Cup Qualifiers in the Middle East earlier this month.
It will require a major rearguard effort, lead by the aforementioned Nuno Reis, to hold out Sydney’s normally potent strike force but has failed to show up in the big game in recent years.
The likes of Milos Ninkovic, Bobo and Le Fondre are all capable of producing a match winning moment of brilliance and are worth backing in our goalscorer market however it may not be worth going all in on them considering the history.
As for City, there are any number of potential goal scorers to back with youngsters Stefan Colakovski and Tilio scoring in last week’s win.
There is also a pair of proven veterans in Florian Beurenguer and Craig Noone that are more than capable of contributing, if the latter can overcome the injury that saw him withdraw last weekend.
I’ll take Le Fondre to score mostly as insurance against a Sydney victory.
Back Adam Le Fondre Anytime Goalscorer
Overall, there is not a whole lot between these sides with both more than capable of lifting the trophy come 7:00pm on Sunday.
On paper, Sydney is marginally the better side however I fully expect this fixture to go beyond 90 minutes just like it did in 2020.
However, with all of the intangibles pointing towards City, I’ll take them to get there in the end, but there is almost no chance they do it comfortably.
Back the Draw (90 Minutes) @ $3.45
Back Melbourne City to Lift the Trophy
History will be made in Sunday’s A-League Grand Final when Sydney FC and Melbourne City face off at Bankwest Stadium.
325 days after Sydney and Adelaide began the season at Coopers Stadium including a 117 day hiatus due to the Corona Virus, a champion of Australian football will be crowned.
The Sky Blues are looking to win back to back championships for the first time since Brisbane Roar’s dominant side of 2011-2012 and take sole possession of the “most Grand Final wins” with their fifth.
For Melbourne City it is a chance to end a decade of establishment in the A-League, from their beginnings as Melbourne Heart, claiming their first A-League silverware would complete the transformation.
We’re breaking down every important area of the big game so read on for our previews and best bets.
Sunday 30 August, 6:30pm, Bankwest Stadium
If there is one big takeaway from the A-League Finals Series to date, it’s that a lot of these sides are very closely matched and it tends to take a moment of brilliance (or madness) to split them.
All four finals to date have had two or fewer goals scored in them and despite the attacking talent on hand, it’s hard to see that trend being broken here.
When you add in the history of the A-League Grand Final, we are most likely going to be in for a low scoring 90 minutes with the last three and 10 of the 14 played having two or fewer goals.
Such is the case when you get to what is essentially a cup final as the two sides first and foremost set out not to lose.
1-0 is the most common scoreline, occurring in four Grand Finals and there is some value to be had either way if you feel strongly about either team.
To play on the safe side we’ll back a low scoring goal and follow the numbers.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ $1.80
Much like last season’s Grand Final, we have two of the finest strikers in the A-League facing off here and they will be critical to their relevant team’s success on Sunday.
Sydney FC have Adam Le Fondre who has done nothing but score goal after goal for the Sky Blues in his A-League tenure, proving to be a very popular play for punters.
The same story applies to Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren, the winner of the Golden Boot this season and a player who in all honesty should be looking for a move overseas after this game for a different challenge.
We’ll take the Melbourne City marksman to tally here based on his recent form.
Back Jamie Maclaren Anytime Goalscorer
Every way you look at it, it’s tough to find a winner in this match.
The market is having a tough time splitting them and quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with the prices for either team in the 90 minute result market.
Sydney has the big game experience but Melbourne City looks like a side ready to shake the monkey off its collective back.
We’ve seen extra time in five of the last ten A-League Grand Finals with four of those fixtures going to penalties, I’m happy to back this one going beyond the 90 minutes as well.
Back the Draw (90 Minutes) @ $3.25
Sunday 19 May, 6:40pm, Optus Stadium
Perth 0 – Sydney FC 0 (Sydney Wins 4-1 on Penalties)
For the 11th time in 14 seasons, the A-League’s top two from the regular season will meet in the Grand Final.
Perth will host its first national league Grand Final in 16 years and make their second appearance after going down in Brisbane in 2012.
Sydney is playing in its fifth A-League decider and third in the last five seasons and has been the best side over the last three years having completed the double in 2016/2017 and won the premiership last year.
There’s a whole lot to dive into for this game so without further ado let’s dive into some of the markets that are available for Sunday.
Cup finals tend to be low scoring, cagey affairs but with scoring at a premium but with the way these two teams set up, there could be quite a few goals in this one.
Two markets jump out right off the bat, Both Teams to Score and the Over/Under 2.5 Goals
This fixture averages three goals per game so right from the outset, Over 2.5 Goals market is the first A-League Grand Final play.
Four of the last five meetings between these sides have hit the over in that market and I’m willing to give a pass to that 1-0 game in Round 26 since Perth already had the Premiership wrapped up.
I’m backing in that market for two reasons, one it’s insurance against one keeper having the game of their life resulting in a clean sheet and also, it’s at a better price than the Both Teams to Score market.
Anytime Goalscorer Market
Both of these sides feature two superb attackers who can chance a game with a well placed strike.
Andy Keogh has scored 15 goals this season from 27 matches while Adam Le Fondre has scored 18 for Sydney FC, five of which came from the penalty spot.
Both of these players are certainly worth keeping an eye on in the Anytime Goalscorer market and it’s worth noting that Le Fondre is coming off a brace in the Semi Final.
He has also managed to find the back of the net in all three games against Perth this season so he is one of the few players that can say with confidence he knows how to score against Popovic’s stout defence.
Keogh has only scored in one of his last six matches and may wind up getting thrown into a playmaker role setting up his fellow attackers.
I do think both of these players will score in this one but for a single bet, I’ll take Le Fondre.
Back Adam Le Fondre as Anytime Goalscorer @ $2.30
As for a roughie bet, both of Perth’s fullbacks, Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic love to get forward and could find themselves in a shooting position.
I’ll even consider a small bet on Franjic to score what could be the pivotal goal in this game, it would be his second goal for Perth in a Grand Final, his first being an own goal when he was playing for Brisbane in 2012.
Back Ivan Franjic as Anytime Goalscorer @ $11
One more market jumps out as a value play here, the red card market.
On the competition’s biggest stage, nerves can sometimes take over and the red mist can descend.
There have been seven red cards in the 13 A-League Grand Final including a run where four players were dismissed in the three Grand Finals between 2007 and 2009.
Last year Roy O’Donovan was sent off in the closing stages as he kicked Lawrence Thomas in the head instead of kicking the ball.
Both of these teams feature plenty of combative players who love to niggle their opponents but have been surprisingly disciplined.
Grand Final day can bring out the best (or worst) in some of these players though and at that price, I’m happy to put a few dollars on this game finishing less than 11 a side.
Back a Red Card in the Grand Final
Now for the big question, who is going to win the Grand Final?
The last time these two sides played out a draw was November 2015 so chances are this will be decided in 90 minutes.
Sydney has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between these two but Perth have been head and shoulders above the rest of the competition for pretty much the whole season.
The Glory had a real scare put through them last week by Adelaide and know that Sydney won’t give them that same head start.
Nine times has the home side won the Grand Final and I’m backing Perth to make it ten here, they are just a better side that Sydney and I think that scare last week will be enough to get them focused here.
Back Perth to Win in 90 Minutes @ $2.32
A-League Grand Final Same Game Multi
After a semi-final weekend that delivered maximum drama, there is plenty to look forward to ahead of the 2018 A-League Grand Final between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory.
Seven months ago the thought of Newcastle making the Grand Final let alone hosting it would have been laughable but thanks to Riley McGree’s stunner and Jason Hoffman’s first time effort, they have the chance to claim their second title in A-League history.
Melbourne Victory meanwhile endured a rough start to the season, failing to register a win in their first six matches with many writing off their title hopes in early November.
They have finished strongly, winning both finals on the back of late heroics from Besart Berisha against Adelaide before Terry Antonis’s redemption effort in extra time against Sydney FC.
Read on for our preview of Saturday’s A-League Grand Final and match prediction.
Saturday 5 May, 7:50pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Newcastle Jets 0 – Melbourne Victory 1
This will be the first time that these sides have met in the finals, with the Jets making their first finals appearance since March 2010, where they lost to the Wellington Phoenix in extra time.
Melbourne on the other hand have plenty of finals pedigree playing in the end of season tournament in each of the previous five seasons, and making two of the previous three grand finals.
How the Victory bounce back from an emotionally and physically draining 120 minutes in Sydney a week beforehand will be a big question.
They have lost both matches at McDonald Jones Stadium this season and the Jets will have a huge crowd backing them home.
These are two sides with plenty of attacking talent on show so a dour 0-0 game is unlikely, between these sides they have only been held scoreless on six occasions in 57 games between them this season.
In a fixture such as this, the importance of playing at home cannot be understated with only two away sides raising the trophy, one of which was the 2008 Jets in the neutral venue F3 Derby Grand Final.
If the last two weeks are anything to go by we are in for an excellent game of football and I am backing the Jets to be the happier side at the end of the match, whether it be in 90 or 120 minutes.
Back Newcastle Jets to Lift the Trophy @ $1.80
It has been an historic season of football in the A-League and it will come to what is sure to be an entertaining conclusion on Saturday afternoon.
Sydney FC have been the dominant force in the A-League all season long – they have lost just one game – and they will go into this Grand Final with the Melbourne Victory as dominant favourites.
This is the third time that Sydney FC and Melbourne have done battle in the A-League Grand Final – with one win apiece – and both sides are packed full of players with big-game experience.
We have analysed the make-up of both sides and our 2017 A-League Grand Final tips can be found below.
Sunday 7 May, 5:00pm, Allianz Stadium
It is difficult not to be impressed with the way that Sydney FC have played during the 2016/2017 A-League season and they will go into the Grand Final as deserving favourites.
To only lose a single game in a competition that is often as even as the A-League is a huge achievement and it would be somewhat of an injustice if the Sky Blues were unable to claim the Championship.
Sydney’s success has been on the back of an incredible defensive record and they go into this clash having conceded only one goal in their past seven games.
They have won 11 of their 14 games as home favourites this season for a huge profit, they have not lost a game in this scenario and they have beaten the Melbourne Victory on three occasions this season.
The Melbourne Victory have been the second best team in the A-League all season long, but they have been nowhere near as dominant and consistency has been somewhat of an issue.
Melbourne go into this clash on the back of a fighting 1-0 victory over the Brisbane Roar, but this really is a much tougher challenge.
The Victory have won only two of their past seven games as away underdogs and they would really need to produce a stellar effort to be any chance of recording an upset victory.
Sydney FC would be fitting A-League Champions and there is still some value at their current price to get the job done inside of 90 minutes.
Back Sydney FC To Win @ $1.75
The A-League Grand Final is the biggest game in Australian domestic football every season and is always a big event on the Australian sporting calendar.
The team that finishes the regular season on top of the A-League ladder wins the Premier’s Plate, but it is the A-League Championship that is the most sort after prize in Australian football and you can only win that by winning the Grand Final.
Sydney FC (2006 and 2010), Melbourne Victory (2007, 2009 and 2015), Newcastle Jets (2008), Brisbane Roar (2011, 2012 and 2014) and Central Coast Mariners (2013) have all won the A-League Grand Final, but Adelaide United, Western Sydney Wanderers, Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix are still chasing their first title.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 1 May, 4:00pm, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide United 3 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1
It has been an incredible A-League in 2015/2016 and we are set for an outstanding Grand Final between Adelaide United and the Western Sydney Wanderers at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Adelaide United made an incredibly slow start to the A-League season and they were winless after almost two months of the competition, but they found form in a big way in the second half of the season and they head into the Grand Final on the back of a most impressive performance against Melbourne City.
The Reds have won four games on the trot heading into the Grand Final and they have been outstanding on both sides of the football in the past couple of months.
The Western Sydney Wanderers were not anywhere near as dominant as Adelaide United in their semi-final, but they were just as impressive.
Western Sydney went down three early goals against the Brisbane Roar – a couple of which were unlucky – but they showed their character to peg it back to three goals and after giving up a 4-3 lead they were able to rally back and take out the game in extra time.
The Wanderers have not been anywhere near as consistent as Adelaide United in the lead-up to the Grand Final and last Sunday showed that their defense is no longer the impenetrable force that it once was, but they are a side that know what it takes to win big games and have had a great deal of self belief pumped into them by coach Tony Popovic.
The home ground advantage is expected to be key for Adelaide United and they are set to start this game as clear favourites, which is a position in which they have thrived this season.
Adelaide United have won 12 of their 19 games as favourites this season and they are 8-3-2 in front of their home fans as the punter’s elect.
In contrast, Western Sydney don’t have a great record as underdogs this season and they have won just one of their six games in this position this weekend.
Western Sydney must be respected, but their is an incredible sense of timing about this Adelaide United team and I think that they will be able to get the job done in regular time.
Recommended Bet: Back Adelaide United To Win @ $2.40