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The race to the W-League finals is on

Brisbane Roar made a bright start to the W-League season. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Roar Guru
8th January, 2018
9

With four weeks to go with eight teams technically still in the hunt for the premiership, here is a look at what’s in store, the danger games and the best and worst case scenarios for the entire W-League in current ladder order.

1. Brisbane Roar
Likely result: Premiers
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Seventh
Brisbane Roar have one hand on the premiership, and in all honesty they’ll will probably take it out. Where Brisbane’s story is more interesting, though, is they can influence the rest of the ladder.

After a week off this week Brisbane will head to Melbourne to take on City, then visit Adelaide, which won’t as easy as the ladder position would suggest, and finally host Canberra in what could be the match to decide the premiership, a finals rehearsal or an elimination final before the final.

Whether or not Brisbane can put the cue in the rack for the Canberra game will depend on other results, but they are a professional outfit and will take the chance to rest players with niggling injuries before the finals if they can.

(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

2. Newcastle Jets
Likely result: Second
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Eighth
Round 13 away against Canberra and Round 14 at home against Melbourne City will be the difference between hosting a final and not playing in the finals series at all.

In Newcastle’s favour, they know how to score goals – they’re leading the league with 20 goals scored across their nine appearances so far. With two strikers occupying third and fourth in the golden boot chase, scoring won’t be the issue.

The Jets also have a game at home against Adelaide this week, where they will be looking to capitalise in a similar way to Canberra did. Goal difference may be a factor, and a home final could rest on a missed penalty.

3. Sydney FC
Likely result: Third
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Eighth
In such a condensed season Sydney decided to have their run of bad form at the start of year before going on a winning streak. Their last two games are Victory and the Wanderers, but the game to watch is really this week’s away trip to Perth, where stopping Sam Kerr will be the challenge.

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The referee will be watching every challenge closely, with Sydney going into the game as the league’s most foul-conceding and yellow card-earning team.

In reality they’re banking six points against Victory and Western Sydney, which should be enough to get them into the finals even without the Perth result. However, a home final is on the line against Perth, as taking points here will likely displace the Jets.

4. Melbourne City
Likely result: Sixth
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Eighth
Melbourne City face Brisbane Roar at home and Newcastle Jets away to finish the season. At the start of the year this wouldn’t have even been a consideration.

Leading the pass accuracy in the league at 80 per cent will be helpful against the Roar, especially with them holding the defence line strong, but this year City just haven’t been putting teams away the way they did last season. However, they have beaten the Jets already this year, so it’s a chance.

I think a team is going to fall out of the finals race, and I don’t see it being Newcastle, Brisbane or Sydney. These are two tough games to finish the season, but they easily could win and knock the Jets off course or deny Perth or Canberra a spot in the final.

(AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

5. Perth Glory
Likely result: Fifth
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Ninth
If Sam Kerr stays fit, change the likely result should be bumped up to fourth, enabling the Glory to play finals. But tough games against Sydney and Canberra still stand in the way, with Western Sydney at home before the pre-finals bye.

Sydney and Canberra both want to win, and I see only one of those two games going Perth’s way. Which one, I don’t know – Canberra looked good against Adelaide and Sydney are in form.

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Perth, on the other hand, have dropped points to Canberra and Brisbane and drew with the Jets as well. It’s hard to draw a form line, but we will see in the next few weeks.

6. Canberra United
Likely result: Fourth
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Ninth
If Ash Sykes or Michelle Heyman goes down injured again, change that likely result to sixth, but if they both stay fit, their experience on the field and Canberra’s attack-at-all-costs attitude will benefit Canberra.

It is all in Canberra’s hands, with the team needing all six points from home games against the Wanderers and the Jets. Playing Perth in Bunbury and Brisbane at Suncorp represent either a ticket to the finals or an early break.

For Canberra to play finals they have to beat Perth, the Jets and possibly the Roar. It’s not outside the realms of possibility, though, and with a game in hand it is in the ladies hands.

7. Melbourne Victory
Likely result: Eighth
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Ninth
Technically – and this also holds true of the Wanderers – Melbourne can still technically win the premiership. It’s not going to happen, but the stars can still align.

Realistically two winnable games against the Wanderers and Adelaide to finish the season is best way to close, but the fact remains that the Victory seem not to have recovered from the introduction of City in town.

(AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

8. Western Sydney Wanderers
Likely result: Seventh
Best case: Premiers
Worst case: Ninth
The Wandered have a tough finish to the season, playing Canberra, Perth and Sydney away. The Wanderers have shown improvement this season but will finish outside of the finals hunt.

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9. Adelaide United
Likely result: Ninth
Best case: Sixth
Worst case: Ninth
Round 3 was Adelaide’s last win, a 3-1 victory against Perth Glory, and a draw in Round 6 against City showed positive signs for the Reds. Just a few better results, converting some of those 1-2 losses into draws or wins, will see the Reds improve next season, but this season is dommed to end without a finals appearance.

The race to the finals will still be live until the last round of games, such is the nature of the short W-League season. Brisbane Roar will likely win the premiership, but who will join them in the finals is a mystery.