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

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Expert
28th August, 2020
14

As all bar one of the experts and the voice of the people predicted, Sydney FC and Melbourne City have advanced through to the A-League grand final for 2019-20.

It has without doubt been the most curious of seasons, filled with COVID concerns, changing rosters thanks to the pandemic and a late-season charge from Western United that brought much interest into the finals race.

Only Wellington and United really offered much hope in terms of stopping either of the two combatants this Sunday from featuring in the big dance. However, they were not able to do so and Sydney will look for their fifth championship against the other Sky Blues.

City will be hungry to claim their first and enter the contest well matched and with a clear shot at victory.

Who will it be for season 2019-20? The panel takes its shot in what follows and be sure to enter your preferred tip into the sheet below to have a say as the always important voice of the crowd.

Enjoy the grand final and the culmination of the season.

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Mike Tuckerman
Sydney

The Sky Blues proved against Perth Glory in the semi-finals that they can change gears when it truly matters.

They also enjoy the advantage of this grand final being played in their own city, even if it’s at the home ground of their biggest rivals.

Melbourne City will be no pushover, but have they got what it takes to step up on the biggest stage of all? I’m tipping Sydney’s experience will get them through in a close one.

Stuart Thomas
Sydney

Some folks will say that Sydney’s improved performance against Perth Glory and City’s struggles against Western United in the semi-finals makes the men from the harbour city the clear favourites for the championship.

However, the facts that Perth were mediocre and City played potentially the most in-form side in the A-League may well temper that assertion.

City’s better legs got them home against Mark Rudan’s men and Sydney were by far the better side against Perth, yet lining up that form and coming to a convincing conclusion in regards to this Sunday night is frightfully challenging.

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I’m tipping Sydney to win based on the fact that they appear to have more weapons in attack, with Jamie Maclaren the only man likely to score for City. Although I did pick City for the title pre-season, I think Sydney may win this one in normal time.

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica

(Will Russell/Getty Images)

Paul Nicholls
Sydney

It’s a fitting finale to have the top two teams playing off for the championship. Who will it be: Sydney FC, the team with all the grand final experience, or Melbourne City, the club with so much unfulfilled potential?

City were rusty for a long period of their semi-final against Western United. Although United stamped their authority early, I always felt the longer the game went on, the more chance City would have to get back into it. Just as Fox Sports analyst Mark Bosnich was explaining how Melbourne City needed to make a bunch of changes, Aaron Calver clumsily brought down Jamie Maclaren and from there, City were home.

So what did they do right? They are obviously well coached and Erick Mombaerts deserves due credit. In Tom Glover, City have one of the league’s best goalkeepers. Craig Noone has been a good acquisition and Adrian Luna will be a real danger for Sydney FC. There’s no denying that Jamie Maclaren is City’s trump card and his duel with Adam Le Fondre will be a fascinating game within a game.

Jamie Maclaren

(Mike Owen/Getty Images)

Sydney’s first-half effort against Perth was the best they have played since the lockdown. It was hardly surprising that it was Milos Ninkovic and Le Fondre doing the scoring. Rhyan Grant was in great form, as were Alex Wilkinson and Ryan McGowan in the heart of defence.

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I see the grand final as a repeat of how both teams played their semi-finals, Sydney gaining early ascendancy and City finishing strongly. It might even go to extra time and if it does, Sydney’s grand final experience will give them the edge. Sydney in a thriller.

Tom Williamson
City

Finally, we’re here, the 2019-20 A-League grand final.

For the first time in their history, Melbourne City have a chance at the ultimate prize Australian football has to offer, and they’ve got a giant in their way.

Sydney FC are a modern-day powerhouse. With six pieces of silverware in the last four seasons, they know how to win big games.

With contrasting form going into the semi-finals, first versus second on the ladder didn’t look likely in the grand final, with the strong potential for an upset in both contests.

But as good teams do, they both defied the negativity to win when it counted most.

Adam le Fondre celebrates a goal

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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City were not at their best against Western United and in the first half they looked set for another semi-final choke. However, after some silky skills from Jamie Maclaren, some lockdown keeping from Tom Glover and midfield domination from Josh Brillante, Melbourne were able to break their hoodoo and book their spot in the final game of the season.

Sydney were doubted. People said they’ve got no gas since the restart. They were written off by many. How foolish. On Wednesday the Sky Blues showed why they’re so feared, as they ran amok against a soft Perth side. The second Liam Reddy touched that ball you just knew he was going to get get run over.

After you concede that, how can any side find it within them to fire back up?

It’s been a tumultuous season, and against all odds, our A-League has survived. We are set for a blockbuster clash of the two best sides in the competition and I cannot tip anyone other than my Melbourne boys.

City to win in extra time.

Grand final Mike Stuart Paul Tom The Crowd
SYD vs MCY SYD SYD SYD MCY ?
Previous Total 65 76 68 63 71
New total 67 78 69 65 73