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The Roar's A-League Men tips and predictions: Round 12

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11th January, 2024
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It was another ripping week for Texi Smith in Round 11 and he has his eyes on another dominant performance in the first ever A-League ‘Unite Round’ beginning Friday night.

The powers that be have dealt us a brilliant set of matches. Macarthur FC and Western United kick things off in the Friday twilight, before Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers ignite the weekend straight after.

Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory looks a juicy affair the following day and when Adelaide United meet Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium later that evening, the new-fangled idea stolen from other codes will be in full swing.

The Glory desperately need some points against the Phoenix on Sunday, before the round ends with two equally aspirational teams in Brisbane and Newcastle doing battle.

Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the ever important voice of the people. Here is the way the panel sees all the Unite Round action unfolding this weekend.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 22: Kosta Grozos of the Jets celebrates his goa during the A-League Men round one match between Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets at HBF Park, on October 22, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Kosta Grozos celebrates a goal for Newcastle against Perth. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Texi Smith

United, Western Sydney, Central Coast, Sydney, Wellington, Newcastle

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Unite round starts at 5.30pm this Friday at Commbank Stadium in Parramatta, with the league’s two least supported teams facing off. That’s a recipe for the lowest non-Covid A-League crowd in history but of course, with a game following later in the evening, the crowd will be announced as some kind of record-breaking attendance.

Macarthur FC have at least arrested their run of defeats, while Western United were unlucky to go down to rivals Melbourne City last week to two wonder goals. With Kearyn Baccus suspended, the life will be sucked out of the Bulls’ midfield and Western United will take their chance, leading a charmed life to go and win it with a late goal.

One way of ensuring a decent crowd for a Melbourne City home game is Unite Round. City scraped home against Western United last week to continue the magnificent run that has seen them bounce up the league, while Wanderers were wasteful in a slender loss at home to the Mariners.

There is only one way the points are going tonight, and it is with the darlings of Destination NSW as Valentino Yuel and Nicolas Milanovic go on a riot. Two goals ahead at the break, Wanderers will be pegged back when former player Steven Ugarkovic rifles home a trademark goal from distance, and there are nervy moments until spaghetti-legs Milanovic weaves his way through to finish the job late in the second half.

Melbourne Victory love a visit to Allianz Stadium, and up against a Tulio-less Central Coast Mariners will fancy their chances. The see-sawing contest against Perth last week will have given Victory belief, while the ‘home’ side will be on top of the world after their win against Wanderers last weekend.

Running battles between Victory and Sydney FC fans will make this a tense atmosphere, the Unite Round scheduling coming home to roost, while on the field a cagey first half will give way to a slog-fest in the second; two heavyweight teams sparring in an end-to-end thriller.

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Jacob Farrell’s mazy run and finish will be enough to steal the points, the game surprisingly finishing with a full complement of players on the field after a fiery encounter and surprisingly only ending with one goal. Life after Marco Tulio is sweet for the Mariners.

Jamie Maclaren of Melbourne City celebrates a goal.

Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

Saturday night at Allianz will already be a tinderbox after the first game, Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory fans not mixing too well as the Original Rivalry and Big Blue takes on a strange three-way twist. With security and police trying to restore order, the game will kick off in a fierce atmosphere, Adelaide looking to get their season back on track.

They showed great persistence to get a point against Phoenix last week, but were less effective in Monday’s draw with Macarthur. Sydney FC’s injury cloud may give them a selection headache, the ploughed field at Suncorp last weekend taking its toll, but tonight, with Anthony Caceres back and Max Burgess given the green light to roam free, will be all about the ‘away’ team.

Jaiden Kucharski with a fabulous strike to open the scoring and a second half littered with free-kicks, world-class saves and missed chances will see Sydney FC limp home to a win, but the majority of the crowd will leave happy; a big police presence outside the gates to quell any disquiet post-match.

You come all the way to Sydney for Unite Round and you can’t even see all the games. Perth Glory face Wellington Phoenix at Commbank, while Brisbane Roar play the Newcastle Jets across town at Allianz at the same time!

Perth were so unlucky against Victory last week, coming back from a ridiculous sending-off to level the game late, only to lose it with the last kick of the game. Phoenix looked as sharp as ever against Adelaide but could only come away with a point.

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Wellington Pheonix fans attend the club's homecoming game

Wellington Phoenix fans. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Roared on by their adopted NSW fans from Wellingong tonight, this will be a one-sided affair right from the off when Bozhidar Kraev drills home a goal in the opening moments.

Alex Rufer then bosses the midfield and Ben Old makes it two before a spirited comeback from Glory; Mustafa Amini with a deflected shot and Stefan Colakovski levelling with a poacher’s goal. As Glory sense an unlikely win, Old slides in Kosta Barbarouses to continue his rich seam of goal scoring, finishing a sweeping move with a shot into the roof of the net to win it at the death. A fabulous game in a fast-emptying stadium.

Is 7.45pm on a Sunday too late a game to attract a crowd? With the main course of the women’s game beforehand serving up all the entertainment, the fans remaining in the stadium will need something special to keep them in place. Luckily, a strong start from Brisbane Roar will blow this game wide open.

The recalled Carlo Armiento’s outrageous 50-yard finish will be followed up a minute later with a Jez Lofthouse wonder goal and Newcastle Jets will be rocked. The entertainment continues with a Trent Buhagiar breakaway goal just before the break that tees up a superb second half of box-to-box action.

Daniel Stynes comes off the bench to dribble home an equaliser and fellow sub Archie Goodwin completes the turnaround to give the Jets an almighty victory.

Macarthur FC Team Celebrations.

Macarthur FC players celebrate a goal. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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The product on the field continues to amaze in the best football league in the world. Was Unite Round a success? It doesn’t matter, we’re locked in for more, so get used to it!

Stuart Thomas

Macarthur, City, Central Coast, Adelaide, Wellington, Newcastle

Macarthur stole a point last week against the Jets to remain in the top six, an easy kill against Western United looks likely, yet the southerners had plenty of good moments against City last time out. The locals in a close one.

Something tells me Melbourne City can crack the stoic Wanderers defence on numerous occasions on Friday night when third and fourth do battle and that the Mariners will stun Victory in the Saturday twilight.

Join me on the Roar for a live call of that one and then stick around for the Socceroos opening match of the Asian Cup a few hours later.

Adelaide and Sydney FC looks a willing affair with a spot in the top six on offer in all likelihood. I’ll stick with the Reds one last time and hope that we finally see some of their best form.

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Perth cannot take a trick at the moment and now play a distance derby in Sydney! The Phoenix look a polished outfit and cannot afford to let this one slip. Sunday brings Unite Round to a close and after letting two points slip away at the death last week, the Jets would be hopeful of securing all three against a Brisbane team that were at least better against Sydney last time out after a tough few weeks.

Sydney’s Joseph Lolley competes with Perth Glory’s Aleksandar Susnjar. (Photo by Steve Christo – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Andrew Prentice

Macarthur, Western Sydney, Central Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, Wellington

We arrive at the much-vaunted “Unite Round” with all the games being played in Sydney, yet both Sydney FC and the Wanderers are the away team on their regular home grounds against interstate rivals – I’m sure that’ll unite the competition.

The one thing everyone is united by at the moment is that Western United are homeless and not travelling well. They came close to forcing a result against Melbourne City, but were undone in the end with another late concession. The Bulls drew both games last week and while depleted by injury, still seem to have too much at both ends of the park for Western to overcome. United might get some bounce from the two billion dollar funding announcement this week, but announcements don’t build stadiums or win matches.

Two teams with identical 5-3-3 records come together at Parramatta on Friday night. Poor old City – a “home” grand final didn’t go their way at CommBank and now they’re using the home dressing rooms against the stadium tenants. The Wanderers were undone by Marco Tulio and the Mariners last round. However, they rarely put two losing efforts back-to-back and in Marcus Antonsson, they have one of the most underrated goal sneaks of the competition. I see the Wanderers keeping it tight and doing enough to stall City’s recent momentum.

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The game of the round is the early match in a SFS double-header where unbeaten Victory face bang-in-form champs Central Coast. Who will fill the canoe-sized shoes caused by Marco Tulio’s departure? With Josh Nisbet now operating in a more attacking role yet still covering more ground than a Wildebeest across the Limpopo, the Mariners have looked irresistible.

Central Coast’s Jacob Farrell goes on a run against Brisbane Roar. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

The Victory used a get out of gaol card in Perth but the absence of Tulio and Socceroo Bruno Fornaroli doesn’t detract from the spectacle this will be. You know what they say about undefeated streaks… The longer they go for, the nearer they are to ending.

Game two of the double-header sees out-of-sorts Adelaide face an ominously resurgent Sydney. The Reds will feel aggrieved not to have come away with two wins last week. Sydney looked likely to run away with the game in Brisbane but let the Roar back into the contest in the second half. They are clicking though under the guidance of Ufuk Talay and the front three of Joe Lolley, Fabio Gomes and Robert Mak were ably supported by young Jaiden Kucharski last week.

It’s a foursome that will cause the uncertain Adelaide defence more headaches. Carl Veart doesn’t need to set the DeLorean time machine back too far to find their best form but he needs to do it fast, because the early season promise is fading in the memory.

Zach Clough celebrates a goal.

Adelaide United’s Zach Clough celebrates a goal. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Brisbane are one of the few teams probably delighted to be taking a home game away from their home at Suncorp, where botanists may have discovered two species of swamp birds previously thought extinct. Ben Cahn doesn’t want pundits adding an “apostrophe t” to his name in relation to his first A League job, but he seems to have inherited some difficulties at the Roar.

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He is though, hugely regarded in coaching circles and will no doubt have the wisdom to haul Brisbane back up the table. I just don’t think two games is enough to iron out the kinks. Newcastle were brutally unlucky not to bag three precious points at Campbelltown. They will welcome back Apostolos Stamatelopoulos to the forward line and his sharpness around the penalty area will be a factor. If the Jets can keep 99th minute equalisers to a minimum, they’ll take the points.

It seems fair that the two clubs who have to travel the furthest wrap up Unite Round (although in a rare A-League scheduling decision, Perth-Wellington is being played at the same time as Roar-Jets). The Phoenix couldn’t keep Adelaide out at Hindmarsh. Perth could say the same after seemingly plucking a draw out of the fire against Victory, only to come unstuck deep into injury time (and ruin my draw tip). Wellington just seem to be in better shape and it won’t help that Perth, poor travellers that they are, have a four-and-a-half-hour flight for a home game.

Here’s the latest scores and as always, use the form below to get involved as part of The Crowd and take on The Roar’s expert tipsters.

Round 12TexiStuartAndrewThe Crowd
MAC vs WUNWUNMACMAC?
MCY vs WSWWSWMCYWSW?
CCM vs MVCCCMCCMCCM?
ADL vs SYDSYDADLSYD?
PER vs WELWELWELWEL?
BRI vs NEWNEWNEWNEW?
Last week4233
Total31323133
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