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The Roar's A-League expert tips and predictions: Grand final

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Expert
5 days ago
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After 27 rounds of home-and-away action and a gripping finals series that produced the unthinkable, Perth Glory and Sydney FC will contest the A-League grand final.

After both secured stunning wins in their semi-final matches – for very different reasons of course – the two sides will eye off the contest with fervour knowing that a win is well within their grasp.

Perth have been the consistent, constant force of season 2018-19 and Sydney FC have been the closest chaser to their benchmark play. Could anything be more fitting than seeing the two most deserved teams do battle in Australia’s biggest domestic football match?

Optus Stadium will host and with an utterly biased and one-eyed crowd present to cheer on the home side, Sydney will be up against an intimidating opponent. Can the men from the harbour city steal away the prize that Tony Popovic feels his team have earnt after proving the best A-League squad over the course a long season?

Be sure to have your say in the sheet below as a part of the voice of the crowd. Here is the way our experts see the match unfolding.

Thanks for all your contributions throughout the season and enjoy what could be another exciting and memorable A-League grand final.

Alex Brosque

Sydney’s Alex Brosque (Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Mike Tuckerman
Sydney
I think it’s fair to say that my grand final tip should probably come with more than a grain of salt. Much as I enjoy pitting my wits against The Crowd, I must admit to not always being the most serious of tippers. That’s probably a good thing given my form, so without further ado…

I reckon Sydney FC win the grand final. Not because of any personal allegiances. Not because of their form in beating Melbourne Victory 6-1 last weekend. Not even because of all their previous big-match experience.

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I just reckon Perth Glory are due for a shocker. And given all the emotion of the occasion, with all the tickets sold and all the energy expended in their insane penalty-shootout win over Adelaide United, I’m not sure they’ve got a whole lot left in the tank.

Yes, they’ll be up for the game. But so too will Sydney FC. And plenty of critics have written off the Sky Blues all season.

I’d like to see Glory win the grand final, I really would. I think it would be great for the A-League. But I reckon Sydney FC might just nick this one. And as Nemesis helpfully pointed out before last weekend’s semi-finals, my record was 51 correct tips out of 137 matches for the season, so…

Stuart Thomas
Sydney
Without meaning any ill will towards Perth Glory, there is mighty confronting set of headlights coming their way and the potential freeze is on. Sydney FC bared their teeth against the Victory last week and, as I wrote a few days ago, it was one of the rare occasions that Alex Brosque, Siem de Jong, Adam le Fondre and Milos Ninkovic had started a match together – the first time since Round 12 in fact.

What Sydney managed against Victory was simply stunning, and there wasn’t a cylinder left to use despite the rather putrid effort from the opposition.

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This match will come down to one simple dynamic. Perth have been irrepressible this season and their attacking prowess has put countless opponents to the sword. Yet Sydney did win two of their three encounters during the season, and if that isn’t keeping Tony Popovic up at night, I don’t know what will.

If Sydney are able to unleash similar waves of attack to the ones they launched in Kevin Muscat’s men’s direction during the semi-final, the Glory could be in trouble.

Sydney’s best weapon in nullifying the attacking threats of the home side could well be an all-out offensive mindset. We have seen what happens to teams that sit back and attempt to soak Perth’s pressure. It generally doesn’t work.

The Glory have the cutting edge and creativity up front in the form of Diego Castro, Andy Keogh and Chris Ikonomidis, who all feed of the brilliant overlapping work of Ivan Franjic and Jason Davidson and the craftiness of Neil Kilkenny in the midfield.

If given space and time, Perth will dominate and even the sturdy Sydney FC defence will be tested. Sydney’s best chance is to play the match at the other end of the pitch and occupy the Perth midfield defensively for long periods. If they can do that and the front four click like they did against the Victory, Sydney might just be able to snatch the title from Perth.

Sydney to win 2-1.

Ivan Franjic

Perth’s Ivan Franjic (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Paul Nicholls
Sydney FC
It’s the weekend Australians anoint a new ruler. Will it be Perth Glory, who laboured with such vigour against Adelaide, or Sydney FC, whose liberal goal tally would make lesser teams quake in terror.

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What to make of Sydney’s landslide victory against Melbourne Victory? Milos Ninkovic was back to his Machiavellian best, orchestrating things in the midfield, controlling the factions within his team. Probably for the first time this year Siem de Jong looked threatening, like a frontbencher with a good poll result. Sydney of course have a dangerous right wing, with Rhyan Grant playing at the peak of his form. Adam le Fondre is like your local hardworking MP, doorknocking all over the place, putting in the legwork.

Perth will have the popular vote and the effect of 50,000 home fans can’t be discounted. Jason Davidson was sensational last week and in combination with Chris Ikonomidis formed a perfect coalition. It goes without saying that Diego Castro played well and his stoush with Ninkovic for the marginal seat of midfield will be fierce.

This match can turn on a dime. A mistake or a red card could consign one team to opposition. If anyone has the final say, it will be someone with a sense of grandeur, a sense of the epic and statesman-like with a Lincolnesque beard. The result might be a cliff hanger but when Antony Green, or should I say Simon Hill, finally calls it, the difference will have been the Right Honourable Mr Alex Brosque.

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Grand final Mike Stuart Paul The Crowd
PER vs SYD SYD SYD SYD ?
Last week 2 1 2 1
Previous total 51 58 65 67
New total 53 59 67 68

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