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

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Expert
23rd June, 2021
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And so the 2020-21 A-League season comes to an end. It would not be fitting for the sailing to be smooth in the lead up to the climax of the season and the virus has well and truly made that a reality.

There will be a crowd of sorts at AAMI Park come Sunday afternoon and the hard-core Melbourne City fans will get to cheer on their premiership winning team and hope for redemption, after falling to their opponents Sydney FC at the final hurdle last season.

It stands to be a cracking affair and potentially a grand final for the ages. Congratulations to Paul Nicholls on a fine year of tipping and the title for 2021. Well played Paul!

Good luck with your tip for the big one and be sure to enter it in the sheet below to have a say as the second placed voice of the crowd.

Here is the way the panel sees the final match of the season panning out in Melbourne.

Mike Tuckerman
Sydney

As impressive as Melbourne City have been, I’m tipping Sydney FC to gate crash the party on grand final day. The Sky Blues should have beaten City at Leichhardt when the two sides last met, only for a Jamie Maclaren penalty in stoppage time to salvage a point for the visitors and they’ll go into this game on the back of a six-game winning run.

They also beat Melbourne City in last season’s decider at Parramatta, but more than that, I reckon it’s the absence of Maclaren that will really hurt the hosts.

Not only have City been decimated by international call-ups and injuries in recent weeks, but the build-up to this game has been less than ideal, with the grand final only confirmed to be taking place at AAMI Park on Tuesday.

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I still think City will be a formidable side to beat and like last season’s decider, this one could go into extra-time. But I’m tipping Sydney FC and all their big-game experience to prove the difference in this one.

Stuart Thomas
City

I know no one deserves anything in sport, but City have been the best side all season, won the premiership and been decimated during the final by unavailability.

Still they have made it through to the final day and in my opinion, should be rewarded for the season Patrick Kisnorbo has guided them to.

Patrick Kisnorbo coach of Melbourne City

Patrick Kisnorbo coach of Melbourne City (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Frankly, he should be the coach of the year irrespective of the result and playing with a sense of redemption in front of a desperate and passionate home crowd, I’ll tip the ‘other sky blues’ to win their first premiership against a brave Sydney FC.

It would be the best thing for the A-League.

Paul Nicholls
Sydney

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We’ve finally reached the end of the road. Just when we thought we were getting back to some normalcy, COVID-19 has again played havoc with the fixtures, although Melbourne City will definitely host the Grand Final.

The game marks the end of Fox Sports’ long association with the game. Here’s to the Channel 10/Paramount future.

Both teams go into the Grand Final with solid wins under their belts. Sydney were all over Adelaide in the first half before easing up and Melbourne City wrestled hard to gain ascendancy over Macarthur by the second.

Sydney’s quiet achievers all played well in the semi-final. Alex Wilkinson kept a pumped up Tomi Juric in check and the work rate of midfielders Luke Brattan and Anthony Caceres was sensational.

Alexander Baumjohann filled in more than adequately for the injured Milos Ninkovic as the Steve Corica coached team showed how much depth their squad has.

Patrick Kisnorbo has done a great job in charge of City and given their injury and Socceroo-depleted roster, their semi-final win was a fine performance. They undoubtedly miss Jamie Maclaren but to see youngsters Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski step up as they did must delight City fans.

The second goal was a treat: Colakovski controlled the ball beautifully, had the vision to pick out Tilio who still had plenty to do. Along with the other talented youngster Nathaniel Atkinson, City have a strike force to give Sydney FC nightmares.

Sydney’s grand final experience is the key and they should complete a hat-trick of Championships.

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Jamie Maclaren of Melbourne City (C) celebrates with Scott Jamieson (L) and Craig Noone of Melbourne City

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Texi Smith
City
We’re pretty much back to where we were at the start of the season with Covid dictating who plays where and who can attend and it’s a fitting end to a tumultuous season that has entertained and delighted all of us.

It has been a pleasure to be part of this journey and once Euro 2020 finishes I’ll not know what to do with myself. I tipped with my head early on and held my nerve against these three seasoned tipping veterans.

The early season promise evaporated as I got more and more desperate to see a shock score line, and it is no surprise to bring up the rear in fourth place.

Thanks to everyone for taking part and enjoying this rollicking A-League season.

Kosta Barbarouses of Sydney

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

Melbourne City have home ground advantage and have had a little longer to get over their escape from Sydney. They have the means at their disposal to exact the perfect revenge for last year’s low-key final at Bankwest where a meagre crowd created a fantastic atmosphere for the home team at the height of the pandemic.

This time around, Naoki Tsubaki will return to the starting line-up and will be on fire. With Marco Tilio sparkling against his old club, Sydney will be unable to find any rhythm as they spend the whole first half on the defensive.

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The introduction of Milos Ninkovic with 20 minutes remaining will stir the visitors into action and Bobo will have a point-blank header saved with a Gordon Banks-esque dive by Tom Glover.

Extra time will see Sydney snatch a surprise lead, Adam Le Fondre smashing home from ten yards on the rebound, but City will equalise minutes later to take the game to penalties.

The unlucky Tom Heward-Belle will miss the crucial penalty as the sequence threatens to go around again, and City will prevail with the final spot kick converted by Glover, racing off to celebrate with the home fans. It will be a suitably dramatic end to a memorable season.

Grand final Mike Stuart Paul Texi The Crowd
MCY vs SYD SYD MCY SYD MCY ?
Last week 1 1 2 1 2
New total 66 67 76 64 72

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