A-League Round 26 Preview

TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark
TattsBet Brekky Show soccer expert James Clark takes a comprehensive look at Round 26 of the A-League.
TattsBet A-League Round 26 Preview

Adelaide United v Melbourne Heart

Coopers Stadium, Friday 04 April, 6:30pm (AEST)

Adelaide United are currently sitting in fourth place, and along with the Roar and the Wanderers, are the only teams in the A-League with a positive goal differential. Their gritty and physical win across the ditch against the Phoenix on Sunday kept their positive momentum ticking along. Conversely, another loss on Friday night will put the Melbourne Heart squarely back into wooden spoon contention.

The two recent matches between the teams have ended in high scoring draws, but I’m going against the trend this week and tipping Adelaide to deliver the win in their final home game of the regular season.

My tip: Adelaide United

Hunter Stadium, Saturday 05 April, 4:30pm (AEST) 

This game has the potential to be the match of the round given its importance to both sides. A loss for the Jets could mean their game next weekend against Adelaide defines their season. A favourable draw sees them with two home games to finish, so there should be no excuses.

The Victory need a win to ensure the fate of a finals place is in their own hands. Kevin Muscat has a busy coaching schedule as his side travel to Japan to take on ACL Group G opponents Yokohama F Marinos. Refocussing and recovery will be the key, but nullifying “Golden Boot” leading scorer Adam Taggart will also be a high priority in defence. I’m leaning towards a low scoring draw.

My tip: Draw 

Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar

Pirtek Stadium, Saturday April 05, 6:45pm (AEST) 

Brisbane Roar will again be without Besart Berisha after serving a one-match ban following his third red card of the season last Friday night against Melbourne Heart. Despite having a man down, Roar have proven all season they have plenty of fight and will to win when the chips are down.

The Wanderers are a tough proposition at home, but Roar were very unlucky to concede in an intense battle ending in a 1-1 draw back in early February. The hosts will need to manage the burden of an ACL Group H battle against Kawasaki-Frontale in Japan, but reclaiming second spot on the A-League ladder will be at the forefront of their minds on the flight home.

Ivan Franjic looks likely to return to the Roar starting side, so I’m tipping them to sneak home in another close one.

My tip: Brisbane Roar

Perth Glory V Central Coast Mariners

nib Stadium, Saturday 05 April, 8.30pm (AEST)

The Glory managed to break their 10 match-losing streak with two late goals to flatten the Jets in front of a poor home crowd at nib Stadium. They host the Mariners who are on a three match unbeaten run and sitting comfortably in second place. Phil Moss will be wary of Perth and their wooden spoon predicament and won’t be taking their low-ladder position for granted. The Mariners have the small ACL task of hosting Chinese opponents Beijing Guoan, before jetting across the Nullabor to prepare for a tough challenge. Bernie Ibini is in wonderful touch and will be a danger for any side that happens to meet the Mariners in the finals series.

Glory look set to be without French import William Gallas after sustaining yet another injury, but I’m sticking with them to grab the three points and a win for the long suffering fans in their last home game for the season.

My tip: Perth Glory

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix

Allianz Stadium, Sunday 06 April 30, 4:00pm (AEST) 

This game could ultimately decide Frank Farina’s tenure at Sydney FC. The Sky Blues defensive effort has improved markedly since the injection of Sasa Ognenovski. Inconsistency and attacking potency is the concern for me, if they want to make it to the big show. If Sydney can manage to secure a spot in the six, they will need to win games and not save games. Teams that attack and control the midfield possession battles will get the results.

They do have the advantage of a good draw with the remaining games against the Phoenix (8th) and Glory (10th) at Allianz Stadium, but require all six points starting with a win over Wellington on Sunday. It just depends which Sydney FC turns up on the day.

My tip: Sydney FC

James Clark

TattsBet Brekky Show

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