The UEFA Champions League is the Holy Grail of club football and few have stamped their name on the competition like Cristiano Ronaldo.
Round 11 action was a combination of draws, stumbles, Perth’s thumping of Newcastle and topped off by a shock win for the Mariners in Gosford.
A congested ladder now sees just two wins covering the bottom six clubs. Not a season has been death knelled at this point in time, although the Jets and Roar need to find some points as a matter of urgency.
Tom Williamson was solid last week with three correct selections, yet the crowd slipped further off the pace with just one astute tip. My lead was extended by one on the back of a bold prediction of Central Coast toppling Adelaide on Sunday afternoon.
This week sees the post-Christmas action headlined by a Sydney FC versus Melbourne City barnstormer and a curious battle between Brisbane and Newcastle in the Hunter.
Good luck with your selections and be sure to place them in the sheet below to have a say as the ever important and interactive voice of the crowd.
Here are the thoughts of the panel as we edge towards the mid-way point of the season.
Draw, Draw, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth
My tips are coming at you from my Green Class seat on the Tokaido Shinkansen en route to Shizuoka, so apologies in advance if they’re a bit short on detail. But I reckon the Wanderers might just hold Adelaide United to a draw at Coopers Stadium. Mainly because neither side is in particularly good form.
There’ll be another stalemate in Ballarat. Western United have gone off the boil somewhat in recent weeks and while Wellington Phoenix don’t always play their best football on the road, they have enough resilience to hold the hosts to a draw, especially since no one at the club has forgiven Mark Rudan just yet.
Brisbane Roar have to come good at some point, and McDonald Jones Stadium is probably the ideal place to do it. I reckon the Jets would have given this season a decent shake had Wes Hoolahan not got injured before it even kicked off, but it’s now or never for Robbie’s Fowler’s men.
If Melbourne City are to provide a genuine challenge to Sydney FC this season, this is the time to show it. I’m just not sure they’ve got the temperament to take the game to the defending champions in Kogarah. City have been tested several times this season, and they’ve choked under the pressure.
The Mariners have proven a decidedly tougher team to beat under Alen Stajcic and they’ll fancy their chances this weekend. Perth Glory look a shadow of the free-flowing side they were under Tony Popovic last season, but will grind out a festive result in Gosford.
Adelaide, Wellington, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth
The Reds have been up and down like a Janome sewing machine in recent weeks yet will get back on track with a win against the Wanderers at Coopers.
Western Sydney fired up last week, were a little unlucky to drop two points at the death but still appear well below the standard being set by the front runners. Adelaide are close to that standard if their performances become more consistent.
The match between Western United and Wellington Phoenix appears tougher to pick than a broken nose. Based on form alone, Wellington should win. They have briskly become a serious football team under Ufuk Talay and their run will continue on the road.
I am guessing the draw may be a very popular tip when it comes to the Jets and the Roar in Newcastle. If so, I am going against the grain. The Roar to take all three points on the road and manager Robbie Fowler to laud the refreshing nature of the bye.
After leading early, Sydney FC were probably fortunate to take anything at all from the cake tin last Saturday. City were comprehensibly beaten by the Victory in a stoic derby performance that reminded everyone that Marco Kurz’s team will be better late than early. So the class of the competition both come into this match following failed examinations. Sydney to win. Alf to score.
If the Mariners can use home track advantage and dust up the Glory in Gosford, they could well move into the top six on the ladder. I’m not sure they can. Perth will be confident after the drubbing of Newcastle and despite the travel, will take the points in what looms as a refreshingly tight encounter.
Adelaide, Wellington, Draw, Sydney, Perth,
Adelaide have plenty of wounds to lick after their unsuccessful outing against the Mariners last week. Can they bounce back against a Western Sydney team that have been doing some licking of their own recently? Adelaide to lick the Wanderers.
Western United sure are a team without at home. They have pulled up stakes at Geelong and scheduled a game on Mars of all places. The Earth just ain’t big enough it would seem. The match against Wellington will be a great battle between Phoenix’s coach and assistant coach from last season. Ufuk Talay’s Wellington are good for three points on the planet.
Poor old Newcastle copped a hiding last week but the 8,000 or so spectators that follow them through thick and thin will be back – they are made of Newcastle. Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler was frustrated when he realised a bye meant not playing for a week and we presume he has had the lads sweating it out on the training pitch. Draw.
The match of the round takes place on Sunday afternoon between Sydney FC and Melbourne City at Netstrata. Surprisingly, neither team is coming off a win but Sydney can take a big step towards the Premiers Plate if they win this game. I think they will.
Forget the after match show, there should be plenty of fireworks on the pitch at Gosford when Central Coast take on Perth Glory on New Years’ Eve. Central Coast will be pumped after last week’s win but Glory are looking more like their premiership selves. Glory to win 2-1.
Draw, Draw, Newcastle, City, Perth
Happy Holidays everyone! As we enter the last round for the decade, we can look back in hindsight and revel in some of the brilliant moments of the 2010s.
Round 12 opens with the Reds hosting the Wanderers, what is happening with these sides? Western Sydney won their first three games and are yet to register another win, now eight rounds later. Adelaide are still to show consistency and cement themselves as genuine contenders.
Last week the Wanderers showed some significant improvement, enough to give me faith they’ll take a point away from Hindmarsh.
Saturday opens with what is, in my opinion, Western United’s biggest rivalry. I love the story behind this match-up, Mark Rudan confirming his move late last season, Wellington subsequently spiralling as he poached players left and right, It all makes for a fiery atmosphere between the sides.
Wellington are playing some great football, taking a point off Sydney is a monumental achievement and I’m so happy to see them prove doubters wrong yet again. Western United have been in some streaky form, but their quality will get them a point here.
Next up is a battle of the bottom dwellers, Newcastle and Brisbane. What a horrid prime time fixture, it’s not like there’s another game this weekend that deserves it *cough Sydney versus City cough*.
This is seriously going to be a case of who performs worse, and I think it’s going to be Brisbane away from home. Newy to win, 2-0.
Sunday’s solitary match is the game of the round, Both teams experienced a hiccup last week, Sydney dropped points to Wellington and City had their annual Christmas derby mediocre performance.
The outcome of the league could be resting on this fixture, as a City win would claw them within three points of the sky blues heading into the New Year. It’s a monumental game.
Melbourne have been streaky to say the least, and haven’t registered consecutive wins since they beat the Mariners in Round 5.
By the law of averages, City’s bad performance last week will mean they will win this week. City 3-1
Last but not least, the Mariners are hosting Perth on New Years Eve! And if Central Coast can get the win, there’ll certainly be fireworks in Gosford, because insanely, at the end of 2019, the Mariners could be in the top 6.
Alan Stajcic has worked miracles on the Coast so far, turning this young team into a genuine threat in the midfield.
Perth are also flying high after their 6-2 drubbing of Newcastle last weekend. They’re slowly looking more and more like the threat everyone predicted them to be before the season began, and if they reach that potential, the teams at the top should be shaking in their boots.
I think the Glory will win here, the Mariners are doing great, but not great enough.
|Round 12||Mike||Stuart||Paul||Tom||The Crowd|
|ADL vs WSW||Draw||ADL||ADL||Draw||?|
|WUN vs WEL||Draw||WEL||WEL||Draw||?|
|NEW vs BRI||BRI||BRI||Draw||NEW||?|
|SYD vs MCY||SYD||SYD||SYD||MCY||?|
|CCM vs PER||PER||PER||PER||PER||?|