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

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Expert
25th May, 2022
11

Well, we made it folks – and what a chaotic, rushed and at times brilliant A-League season we have witnessed.

The 2022 tipping appears to be The Crowd’s to lose, with Texi Smith the only remaining individual member of the panel a chance of claiming the title.

The final match of the season pits the might of Melbourne City against the potential fairy tale of the John Aloisi coached Western United in a match to savour.

United continue to pick themselves up off the canvas despite injury concerns and City have looked a little less than their best selves since returning from Asian Champions League play. It sets up a brilliant grand final with either team worthy.

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Good luck with your tip for the biggest match of the season and be sure to enter it in the sheet below to have a say in what looks to be the unsurpassed voice of the crowd for 2022.

Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding in the big one and thanks for reading and engaging with the competition throughout the season.

Mike Tuckerman
Western United

Are Western United favourites to win the grand final? No way. Do I think they’ll beat Melbourne City? Not particularly.

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But here’s why I’d like them to.

Having quietly put together one of the best squads in the league, John Aloisi’s comeback is the redemption story of the season. His side reached the finals on the back of one of the best defensive records in the league – helped by another stellar campaign from Jamie Young in goal – and with Aleksandar Prijovic in goal-scoring form, they’ve got the firepower to cause an upset at AAMI Park.

John Aloisi

John Aloisi (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

That said, there’s no real reason Melbourne City shouldn’t go into this game feeling confident. They needed extra-time to see off Adelaide United, it’s true, but they won’t be overawed by the occasion and they’ve got plenty of match-winners of their own. And if Jamie Maclaren converts an early chance for the defending champions, it could be lights out for the team from the west.

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But I’m still going to back Western United in an upset. It’s the result I’d most like to see and I reckon they’ve got a chance, however slim, of pulling it off.

Simon Hill
Melbourne City

Stuart Thomas
Western United

Rather foolishly, I selected Western United to win the championship live on radio at the start of the finals, yet ditched them after feeling the Victory may have their measure heading into the second leg of the semi-final with a one-goal lead.

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Like a cheap suit, I’m back on board and can see the upset result taking place in what stands to be a simply irresistible match.

The reason I have been so bullish on Western for some months is quite simple: they are the most proficient defensive team in the A-League.

Leo Lacroix and Josh Risdon were again brilliant in the semi-final and along with a midfield group that works tirelessly off the ball and possess the weapons to hurt any team, the green and black are about to walk away with their first toilet seat on Saturday night.

Aleksandar Prijovic is an out-and-out star and the momentum and emotion in Western’s favour will provide a classy City side with yet another tough test, after the Reds had them on the rack after 70 minutes last weekend.

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City are a quality side, yet there is something in the air that suggests John Aloisi might be about to provide his second great contribution to Australian football history.

Leo Lacroix

Leo Lacroix. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Texi Smith
Melbourne City

We still haven’t seen the best of Melbourne City.

Last week they stood up when it counted, despite being wasteful up front and looking like a swarm of six-year-old MiniRoos at the back, as Adelaide took them all the way.

Western United had the dream second leg against Victory and played the perfect game, Leo Lacroix an insurmountable man-mountain in the centre of a stubborn defence.

The grand final though will be a step too far. City will understand that with little chance of winning headers up front, they will need to play all their football on the deck and what a perfect trio to do that; Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout complementing the hold-up play and box-foxery of Jamie Maclaren.

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An early goal by Connor Metcalfe will take away any nerves and bring Western United out of their defensive shape. As the game wears on and United are forced to throw caution to the wind, City will cut them to ribbons with some sparkling front play.

Marco Tilio, in perhaps his final game for the club, will be instrumental, setting up one and scoring the final goal in the 90th minute to cap off a majestic cameo.

City silence the doubters and are crowned Champions again. Long live the kings!

Grand finalMikeSimonStuartTexiThe Crowd
MCY vs WUNWUNMCYWUNMCY?
Previous total7070757678
Last week11021
New total7171757879
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