PREVIEW OF A-LEAGUE ROUND 27 MATCHES (all times AEST):
THURSDAY, April 25
Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United at Suncorp Stadium, 2pm
Head to head: Roar 17 Adelaide 18 drawn 9
Last clash: Round 17 – Adelaide 4 Roar 3 at Coopers Stadium
Adelaide can sew up a home final by defeating Brisbane on Anzac Day, and on last week’s form, you can lock it away. United were up for the visit of Melbourne Victory and kept a clean sheet while Brisbane were nowhere to be seen in a 6-1 home loss to Newcastle. With new coach Robbie Fowler in the stands casting judgment on unsigned players, and retiring greats Matt McKay and Henrique deserving of a solid goodbye, the Roar should be much improved.
Key: McKay. The Brisbane legend will be giving his all in his final hitout for his beloved Roar. His teammates should do the same.
FRIDAY, April 26
Melbourne City FC v Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park, 7.50pm
Head to head: City 8 Mariners 11 drawn 7
Last clash: Round 12 – Mariners 2 City 1 at Central Coast Stadium
Melbourne City are making big noises about triumphing in next week’s derby final but first they have to confront Central Coast. City haven’t beaten the wooden spooners this term; a fact that sits uncomfortably with Warren Joyce’s men. The Mariners earned a last-out 3-1 win over Western Sydney and City may rest senior players but surely the side with something to play for should be too strong.
Key: Jamie Maclaren. The Socceroos striker is central to City’s finals hopes and will want to warm up for finals strongly.
Tip: Melbourne City
SATURDAY, April 27
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.35pm
Head to head: Sydney 26 Jets 7 drawn 10
Last clash: Round 14 – Sydney 1 Jets 0 at Jubilee Oval
Steve Corica’s approach to resting players will be interesting given Sydney FC are juggling duties in Asia but have next week off to prepare for their A-League semi-final. They have only lost once to Newcastle in their last 18 meetings but the Jets have shown they can be a threat when there’s little at stake. They thumped Brisbane 6-1 last week and will want to end a disappointing campaign on a high.
Key: Joey Champness. The young striker scored twice, bagged an assist and set up two other goals against Brisbane, showcasing skills the Jets have missed this year through injury.
Tip: Sydney FC
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory at ANZ Stadium, 7.50pm
Head to head: Wanderers 4 Victory 12 drawn 4
Last clash: Round 11 – Wanderers 1 Victory 2 at ANZ Stadium
With a bevvy of senior players rested from Asian Champions League action, expect Victory to hit the ground running against Western Sydney on Saturday night. Kosta Barbarouses, Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen should all play to give Wanderers coach Markus Babbel – currently fielding ex-Victory boys Rashid Mahazi and Giancarlo Gallifuoco as his midfield – a major headache. The off-season can’t come soon enough for the German.
Key: Alexander Baumjohann. Does the Wanderers midfielder have one more breakout performance left in him or has he done his dash?
Tip: Melbourne Victory
SUNDAY, April 28
Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix at HBF Park, 7pm
Head to head: Glory 16 Phoenix 14 drawn 7
Last clash: Round 17 – Glory 3 Phoenix 0 at HBF Park
It’ll either be full noise or going through the motions for the Phoenix, whose hopes of booking a home final may be scuppered by Adelaide on Thursday. Premiers Perth will want to recapture some momentum ahead of the finals after their rare loss last week to Sydney FC and will be buoyed by Diego Castro’s re-signing for the next two seasons.
Key: Roy Krishna. The Phoenix striker is in white-hot form and should get to hoist the league’s golden boot at fulltime.
Tip: Perth Glory.