I hope you’re ready to raise a glass for the last round, because it’s here and has been simmering away all season to boil over at this point. Only two teams have locked in finals births, with three more vying to lock down their position in the top four. Equally at the other end of the table, a win and goal difference could see a change in the wooden spoon and no spot across the whole table is secure.
Apart from City. They’ve been in a league of their own all season and rightly secured the premiership last Thursday.
Anyway, let’s dig in for one last time this regular season.
Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets
Both teams are coming off morale-sapping defeats, but neither will want to spend much time licking their wounds. Adelaide has been left to think about a 3-1 defeat against an underwhelming Canberra, while the Jets need to find a way to bounce back from a 7-0 thrashing. The match will be for pride, and it’s in Adelaide so won’t provide the Jets the security of their boisterous (and brilliant) home crowd.
Adelaide will pin their hopes on the returns of Weber and Brooks, with those two they have a similar squad who pulled a huge upset against the Wanderers. They won’t be able to expose the high line, with the Jets unlikely to take too many risks defensively when a draw would keep them off the bottom. For the Jets, they’ve done it before against Adelaide, and will go in with that confidence. They’re unlikely to be exposed for defending so deep, like they were against a ruthless Victory. However their ability to finish will need to be on display to get the biscuits.
Prediction: Adelaide United 2 – 2 Newcastle Jets
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
This match up should leave you drooling in the same way a birthday cake left in the work kitchen does. The bookend of the season, the big blue. Not only that. Both are battling for a home final, with any serious wounds inflicted on Victory leaving them with a nervous wait. Sydney played out a doll, lifeless loss against Perth and will need to bring more energy to the table, otherwise they’ll end up flatter than a pancake. Victory will be wanting to keep the ruthless edge they possessed last weekend, if they do, they’ll be buzzing more than bees and honey.
All season Sydney have played with a deep defence. It’s often won them matches, but unless the midfield can work hard enough to close the gaps and provide support in the right areas of the park, this could become the Sky Blue’s undoing. Victory’s front line exposed the Jets deep line, convincingly. Longo finally found form, and if she is able to find those spaces between the lines she could be deadly again. It pains me, absolutely pains me, but Victory could win this and secure a home final over Sydney. That hurts more than finding out my pizza has pineapple.
Prediction: Melbourne Victory 1 – 0 Sydney FC
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
A tale of two different clubs. End of season form is a funny beast, funnier than the combination of peanut butter and jam being delicious. Perth have hit the sweet spot recently, their first win of the season sparking a three match spree (AKA all their victories this season). While the Wanderers fate has been the opposite with three losses on a trot.
If Perth can stick to their game plan, pump the ball forward in a quick transition, rely on the pace of their forwards and the cunning ability of Morgan Andrews to find a pass or goal, they’ll cruise through this one. Meanwhile the Wanderers will be looking to the experience of the returning Mastrantonio and Hamilton to guide them. Between the pair of them, the engine room returns, along with creativity to pick apart a compact Perth defence. The trip to WA and Bunbury is long though, so Perth remains in the driver’s seat to continue their quest to ruin teams’ finals hopes.
Prediction: Perth Glory 3 – 1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar
What better way to finish the regular season than this pairing. Some magical matches have flared between the two, that have been both fascinating and chaotic. Will the chaos return? Or will it be business as usual for City, a team to have only dropped points in their opening round. But remember, Brisbane will be riding the red cordial high of a 5-0 win against Canberra in their final home match.
The biggest question over this match is the availability of the Matildas players. This will weigh heavily on the outcome. City has the most amount of players to lose, but perhaps Roar has the greatest to lose, with the Brisbane side often lost when just one of their midfield Matildas duo are missing. If all are out, which based on international window rules is a possibility, this could be an entertaining match of the next generation battling it out. While it’s difficult to see anything other than a City win, it is the W-League, expect anything to happen. Particularly if a fourth place finish is hanging in the balance, Matildas players are unavailable and this being the last match before the finals.
Prediction: Melbourne City 4 – 1 Brisbane Roar