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Melbourne City FC
Western United FC
Melbourne City FC
Western United FC
|2'||N. M. P. Reis|
Melbourne City and Western United square off in a battle to be crowned A-League champions in the grand final of 2021/22. Join us on The Roar for live scores and commentary from 7:45pm AEST.
Here is part of my preview from earlier in the week in case you missed it:
If you were not satisfied with the passion, skill and contest on display last Saturday night when Western United knocked off the Victory to advance to the A-League Men grand final, you are incredibly difficult to please.
Rather brilliantly, things played out in just as thrilling a manner on Sunday when Melbourne City booked their spot in the decider, coming from behind against the now-heartbroken Reds, who for a minute looked like stunning the champs
Those results set up a perfect David and Goliath situation in which City, with all their talent, class and backing, go up against a potential fairy tale. A physically wounded, oft criticised and homeless club dares to defy the odds and claim the biggest prize in the Australian game.
There is indeed something magical about the current run that coach John Aloisi has his Western United squad enjoying, full of an emotion, passion and steel that proved too much for a favoured Melbourne Victory to handle over two legs.
Aloisi has silenced any lingering doubts over his coaching abilities even with key players out injured. The charge to the final match of the season has built up a tangible sense of an underdog overcoming considerable odds.
Momentum is snowballing and the more calm and poised opponent is no doubt fearful of being unable to ride out the wave of emotion heading its way.
The current wave is powerful enough to provide a host of logical reasons as to why Western United can get the job done on Saturday and claim a championship that few pundits probably though possible.
Jamie Young continues to block, parry and tip expertly in goals, the balance that Connor Pain, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Lachie Wales, Jerry Skodatis and Neil Kilkenny are providing in the midfield is impressive and with a true talisman in the form of Aleksandar Prijovic up top and scoring freely, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that United can hurt City and hurt them often.
Throw in stability down back, with Leo Lacroix and Josh Risdon again utterly superb in the 4-1 second leg win on Saturday night, and the case is only strengthened.
In simple terms, Western have the weapons to score and the defensive discipline to make the opposition efforts to do so problematic, something a free-scoring and attacking-minded Victory found out in spades across the two legs of the semi-final.
Yet things could well play out in a far more predictable and pragmatic manner, with the best team in Australia across the last two seasons more than capable of closing United down and using the 90 minutes on offer to secure yet another piece of silverware to add to a burgeoning trophy cabinet.
For long periods, Adelaide United did appear to have City’s measure across their two semi-final matches and seemed to have them on the rack with just 20 minutes remaining. The big names in blue were urgently required to change the momentum of the contest.
Of course, City eventually managed it with the skill and resilience that has become part of their DNA in recent years. Marco Tilio and Jamie Maclaren found second-half and extra-time goals to snuff out any flame of hope the Reds still held, with patience, pressure and persistence eventually forcing open the dam wall.
Mathew Leckie was simply everywhere in the front third, Maclaren was a constant threat and Andrew Nabbout was at his feisty best, providing superbly from wide areas on more than one occasion.
The fact that we can see both teams winning makes this a fitting grand final.
If Western United manage to open the scoring, I feel they will win the title. If City pounce early, they took could be too disciplined and organised for their opponents to overcome. I really think it is that simple.
Hence, the opening half an hour of the match will be crucial. A quick start from either side and and any lead greater than a lone goal will mean game over, with a single strike potential enough to make the same claim. Grand finals are cagey affairs and it would not surprise to see a scoreless first half with a late or extra-time goal deciding what looks likely to be a gripping encounter.
Western United to win 1-0.
I’ll have the final starting lineups in the comments section.
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 7:45 pm AEST
Live stream/TV: Paramount+, Channel 10, 10Play
Betting: City $1.70, Draw $3.75, Western United $4.50 – odds via PlayUp