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.
Newcastle Jets Vs Melbourne Victory
Saturday 5 May, 7:50pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
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.
Sydney FC Vs Melbourne Victory
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.
Adelaide United Vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 1 May, 4:00pm, Adelaide Oval
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