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The Roar's A-League expert tips and predictions: Semi finals

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Expert
16th June, 2021
50

The final four left standing in the A-League for season 2020/21 all appear to have legitimate claims on the title.

On any given day, Macarthur FC are more than capable of upstaging the premiers and Adelaide continue to loom as a dangerous attacking and fast starting team that could quite easily have Sydney’s measure this Saturday.

Both matches stand to be brilliant, with the winners set to battle it out for the famous toilet seat in a week’s time and most fans hesitant when it comes to predicting the teams destined to play in the grand final.

Texi Smith starred with three from three last week and whilst Paul Nicholls will hold the trophy during the off-season, the competition for minor places has tightened up somewhat over the last few rounds.

Good luck with your semi-final selections and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the second placed voice of the crowd. Here are the panels’ thoughts on the two crucial matches.

Mike Tuckerman
Sydney, Macarthur

The Sky Blues may have finished second in the standings, but Melbourne’s current COVID situation means Sydney FC are likely to host the grand final should they win this game.

That’s a powerful incentive against an Adelaide United side that stunned Brisbane Roar last weekend, even if the Reds were under the pump for the entirety of the second half.

Alessandro Diamanti of Western United FC looks on

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

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This game might be closer than it looks on paper, but what Sydney FC have proven in recent seasons is their ability to rise up to the big occasion. They should do exactly that and qualify for their third consecutive grand final.

Let’s be real. Melbourne City have been the best team in the competition all season and deservedly finished top. But City head into the finals with a distinct lack of momentum and the latest COVID outbreak to hit the city has done them few favours.

They’ll come up against a battle-hardened Macarthur who withstood plenty of pressure in their elimination final win over the Central Coast Mariners.

The visitors essentially have nothing to lose on this trip to AAMI Park and with so many seasoned professionals among their ranks, I reckon they’ll spring an upset to qualify for the decider.

Stuart Thomas
Adelaide, City
My reasoning for selecting the Reds over Sydney FC is simple. Momentum. The Sky Blues have been on a decent run, yet something about Adelaide’s recent form and their ability to begin matches in a blaze of attacking glory and find the net, has me certain they will do so again on Saturday night.

That, added to what could be an unwanted break for the reigning champs, leads me to believe that Sydney’s often wasteful production in front of goal could well prove the difference after the Reds take an early advantage.

Kusini Yengi

Kusini Yengi. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Sadly, Macarthur FC’s run will come to an end against City, who have looked like the champions to me all season long.

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It may only come down to a lone goal, with Ante Milicic’s men’s ability to soak up pressure and counter potentially the only chance the Bulls have in this match.

It will be a cagey affair. This will not be the most entertaining of finals, yet as gripping as they come.

Paul Nicholls
Sydney, City

The A-League delivered again last week. Unfortunately for me, the delivery was a hot, steaming pile of nothingness. Zero from three. My lead is dwindling, just like the hours of daylight receding into another grey winter.
Tomi Juric once again proved he is a big game player.

The elimination semi-final against Brisbane was essentially over by the time Juric had masterfully put away his second goal. The semi-final against Sydney will come down to how the Sky Blues inexperienced defence handles the Reds’ onslaught in the early stages.

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The match promises a high octane start by the Reds with Ryan Strain and Juric prominent. Sydney have performed remarkably well since they lost the heart of their defence to Socceroo duty.

If they can absorb this early pressure, Sydney’s smart midfield and experienced forward line, backed by their wonderful home support, should turn the screws as the match goes on. Sydney to win.

The Bulls played an almost perfect first half against the Mariners and despite going down to ten men, looked the most likely to win. Adam Federici was huge, the save where he blocked it with his, um, nether regions, proving his immense value and dedication to the team.

Antony Golec is one of the toughest defenders going around and with Ivan Franjic and Mark Milligan going well, the Bulls look solid.

Melbourne City clearly miss Jamie Maclaren more than Sydney FC miss their Socceroos. Can coach Patrick Kisnorbo fire up his team who have been cruising since securing the Premiership? If Macarthur-bound Craig Noone doesn’t play it will be an uphill task for City, yet I think the Bulls have peaked and City will just scrape home.

Texi Smith
Sydney, Macarthur

What a great distraction from Euro 2020 this will be, two mouth-watering clashes that follow two exciting elimination finals. Can this season deliver even more drama and excitement and cement the 20/21 season as the greatest ever?

Sydney FC threw it all away at Leichhardt Oval earlier in the season against Adelaide United and with Tomi Juric in form, the Sky Blues will have that late comeback on their minds.

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Craig Goodwin is always the main protagonist in this fixture, and will figure heavily in everything that Adelaide do.

A good turnout from the Reds fans, and The Ladies League represented in both camps, this is set to be a wonderful occasion and an enthralling match.

When Juric hits the bar from 30 yards out, and Goodwin bends one just wide from a free-kick within the first fifteen minutes, the crowd will be whipped up into a frenzy, and it will be a simple goal that breaks the deadlock just before the break; Bobo and Adam Le Fondre taking their defenders with them for Milos Ninkovic to stride through and burst the net with a great finish.

A second half of end to end action will result in James Delinanov committing to a late corner, but being found out and Kosta Barbarouses will run the length of the field with three players in pursuit to roll in the winner in front of the Cove.

Kosta Barbarouses of Sydney

Kosta Barbarouses of Sydney (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

This season has been all about the surprises, and here we are again. Sixth placed Macarthur Bulls, so ordinary towards the end of the season, but so good at Redcliffe, have the chance to make this a debut season to remember and bring it on home to Sydney.

City were undone by Newcastle last time out, couldn’t beat basement team Victory, and were hammered by Brisbane Roar.

It’s not Champions form, more of a premiership winning team who have already switched off and aren’t taking it seriously.

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To be fair, that sounds like recent Sydney FC season finishes. With Jamie Maclaren away and doubts over a couple of the City stars, this is Macarthur’s chance to show the class they have threatened all season, but never quite delivered.

Big game players, Benat Etxeberria and Markel Susaeta will step up, Matt Derbyshire will score a deflected opening goal and Mark Milligan will delay his retirement one more time with a late second to kill off City and book their spot in the Grand Final.

Semi finals Mike Stuart Paul Texi The Crowd
SYD vs ADL SYD ADL SYD SYD ?
MCY vs MAC MAC MCY MCY MAC ?
Last week 0 1 0 3 0
New total 65 66 74 63 70

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