Position Vacant: Fifth and sixth spot for Hyundai A-League final
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The five teams in contention for the last two A-League finals spots still up for grabs failed to win last round.
Newcastle and Sydney FC got a point, while Melbourne Heart, Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory failed to get a point.
There are only four points between the five clubs with two rounds left. Only Newcastle have one game remaining as they played Wellington a few weeks back, due to Wellington having a high list of players being unavailable due to international duty.
Furthermore, last weekend confirmed they will miss the finals and probably will win the wooden spoon.
We will now focus on the five clubs, look at the fixtures and determine which teams will get fifth and sixth spot.
Fifth spot with 31 points: Sydney FC
Strength: Sydney FC can frustrate their supporters. One game they turn up and get the three points and then the next game, they show no signs of wanting to win the game.
This year their strength is Alessandro Del Piero. Every week AVP puts his world class football knowledge on display and has proven to be the match winner on occasions.
Sydney FC’s other strength is their attack dominance when they play at home. They show commitment to win the ball and attack, with their best display being when they defeated Wellington 7-1 and Central Coast 2-0.
Weakness: Their major weakness is their defence. They are the most conceded team in the league with 47 goals.
The worst offender is Fabio. Fabio is the type of player who will commit to win the ball. He will run out of his position and mostly he will lose the ball, which the attacking team will take full advantage of due to Fabio being out of position in his left back position. That puts extra pressure on the rest of Sydney FC’s defenders and the opposition will score.
Don’t get me wrong, he is a good attacking player when going forward and looks dangerous, but he is a defender, not a midfielder.
It’s great to attack, but he needs to improve his defensive skills and learn to win back the ball after he loses possession of the ball.
Run home: They play the Sydney derby against the Western Sydney Wanderers, which will be a must win game for Sydney FC. A win for the Wanderers will secure their spot as Premiers and qualify for the Asian Champions League.
It promises to be a great Sydney derby on Saturday night. I predict a draw.
Sydney FC’s last game is away to Brisbane Roar at Suncrop Stadium. With their bad away record this year, Brisbane will have the edge.
V Wanderers (A): Draw
V Roar (A): Lose
Final points and ladder prediction: 32 points and sixth spot on the ladder
Sixth spot with 31 points: Newcastle Jets
Strength: Their real strength is their youngsters. I see this team being a force within the next two seasons, provided they keep players like Craig Goodwin, Conner Chapman, Samuel Gallaway, Adam Taggart and James Brown.
James Brown hasn’t played his best in the Jets shirt, but we will see a better James Brown next season as he will be settled and better educated knowing Gary van Egmond’s system.
Weakness: They play the long ball when they have Emile Heskey in the team and their style becomes very predictable. They showed what team they can be early on the season when they beaten Sydney FC in round two, followed by Central Coast and Melbourne Victory.
Mostly this season we not are seeing Newcastle playing the possession of the ball, which Gary van Egmond was known for when he coached the Jets in the championship year.
Run home: The Jets only have one game left and will play the in-form Wanderers side at home. the Wanderers will win this game easily as they have a better system and their players know how to play it.
If Newcastle’s youngsters can lift for this game and play like the team we saw early this season, they will have a chance. It will be tough for the Jets.
V Wanderers (H): Lost
Final points and ladder prediction: 31 points and seventh spot on the ladder.
Seventh spot with 29 points: Brisbane Roar
Strength: Brisbane Roar style are keeping the possession of the ball with a four-three-three formation and match winning players like Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha.
When these players play their best game they are very influential and have proven to be the difference in matches, which is a threat to opposition teams.
Weakness: It is fair to say Thomas Broich has not being having a good season, based on his form.
Brisbane has lost games with a score line of 1-0 eight times this season. The Brisbane of old will find a way to came back and win the game.
They didn’t have the fight back spirit when Ange Postecoglou was in charge and their game can be very predictable and boring to watch.
Run home: The Roar will play both of their remaining games at Suncrop against Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC, with both Heart and Sydney FC having bad away records this season.
Brisbane’s experience in the finals from the last two seasons will have the edge on their opponents for the remaining games, providing they don’t concede first.
They should be able to beat Heart and Sydney FC and finish the season in fifth spot.
V Heart (H): Win
V Sydney FC (H): Win
Final points and ladder prediction: 35 points and fifth spot on the ladder.
Eighth Spot with 28 points: Perth Glory
Strength: The only positive I can think of for the Glory is the appointment of Alistair Edwards. Since Edwards took over from sacked coach Ian Ferguson there has been an improvement with their possession of the ball.
Other than that it’s been a very disappointing season for the Glory.
Weakness: Their weakness is not taking their chances this season, due to not scoring goals and not being competitive during games.
Run home: They will travel to play Melbourne Victory at AMMI Park on Saturday and then play Adelaide at NIB Stadium.
Melbourne Victory will be too strong for Perth, as Victory will look for final form momentum before the finals and they will have a draw with Adelaide for their last game.
Glory will miss the finals in a very disappointing season for last season’s grand final runners up.
V Victory (A): Lose
V Adelaide (H): Draw
Final points and ladder prediction: 29 points and eighth spot on the ladder.
Ninth spot with 27 points: Melbourne Heart
Strength: The youngsters John Aloisi has put in the squad with the likes of Golgol Mebrahtu and Jeremy Walker. These boys are the future of the Heart and could be potential match winners in coming seasons.
There are a lot of players in their midfield with the likes of Fred, Matt Thompson, Socceroo Richard Garcia and Nick Kalmar all very influential to the team and all have been match winners for the Heart this year.
Weakness: Wait for it, their away form. Not winning a game outside Victoria is a major concern and I’m sure the coaching staff are aware of this issue.
John Aloisi and his staff need to focus on this in the off season, as it has cost them their season. The Heart would have been in the top six this year if their away form was good.
Run home: Heart plays away to Brisbane Roar at Suncrop and Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium. Unfortunately I don’t see them getting any points at all and will miss the finals.
V Roar (A): Lose
V Mariners (A): Lose
Final points and ladder prediction: 27 points and ninth spot on the ladder.
Based on the fixtures we have looked at, we can see Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC will qualify for the finals.
Sydney FC will travel to Melbourne to play Victory and Brisbane will travel to Adelaide to play Adelaide United. Since Sydney FC has not won a game in Melbourne since their grand final victory in 2010 and Victory’s form this season, Victory will win that game and then play the second spot team.
Brisbane Roar have a good chance to beat Adelaide, as Roar have beaten Adelaide twice at Hindmarsh this season, which will give the Roar players confidence in this fixture.
Those are my predictions for the finals. Will I be right or wrong?
We will watch the next two rounds with great anticipation as the final two spots are revealed.
Former Roarer, Jesse Fink, has released a new e-book, World Party, the story of the Socceroos' incredible run at the 2006 World Cup – 15 days every Australian football fan should never forget. Support a fellow Roarer and download a copy today.