Four teams and five matches remain in the 2022 A-League Finals series with a very heavy Victorian bias as all three clubs from that state are still a chance of lifting the trophy in a week and a half.
For the first time in over a decade, the A-League will have two-legged Semi Finals starting with Western United taking on the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Following that, the premiers will enter the finals mix as they head to what is bound to be a raucous Coopers Stadium to take on an Adelaide side that has forgotten how to lose.
We’re previewing each Semi Final leg below so read on and find our tips and match previews here.
It wasn’t easy, but Western United were able to withstand the push of the Wellington Phoenix to book their place in the Semi Final, thanks in large part to the heroics of Jamie Young.
The veteran shot stopper will need to find a way to go to another level over the 180 minutes of this tie with Tony Popovic possessing a lethal strike force to unleash.
It’s also hard to discount the extra rest that the Victory will have had, with their last match being played 10 days ago, while Western United are on just three days break.
Their last meeting finished one apiece as a part of the Victory’s 15 match A-League unbeaten run and it’s tough to see Western United being able to back up and give themselves something to defend in the first half.
Best case scenario, Young is able to come up big and keep Western United in it however a clean sheet for either keeper might be a bit much to ask for.
It’s not the biggest priced play but both teams to score is a decent angle to back ahead of what should be an interesting second leg.
In terms of possible semi final matchups, this was about as good as we could have hoped for over two legs.
With Melbourne City angling to become the first team to complete consecutive doubles in A-League Men’s history, Adelaide might be the team that is best placed to halt that charge.
An eventful 3-1 win over Central Coast on the weekend, spearheaded by Craig Goodwin, made it six victories in a row for the Reds.
Not to mention the fact that they have drawn City twice at this venue and won at AAMI Park in the last six months alone.
City made things a bit tougher than they needed to in their quest for the premiership, but they will be hoping finals football will bring out the best in their star studded squad.
I can’t bring myself to back against Adelaide in their current form, plus they have had City’s number this season.
At home, they’ll go on the offensive and try to give themselves something to play for at AAMI Park on the weekend.
FIRST LEG: Melbourne Victory Won 1-0
It’s advantage Victory after Jake Brimmer’s perfectly placed strike in the first leg, they sit 90 minutes from their first Grand Final since the heist in the Hunter four years ago.
Now they just have to avoid defeat against Western United on Saturday evening and Tony Popovic will have another chance at winning his first A-League Grand Final as a manager.
History continues to be on their side after Tuesday’s win, making it 15 league fixtures in a row without defeat, five in a row without a loss against Western United including four wins in that time.
It’s tough to see Western United finding a way back into this one as well, with just one win in their last five.
We should see more goals than the first leg but it’s very tough to back against the Victory at this point.
FIRST LEG: 0-0 Draw
It was the quintessential first leg of a Semi Final in Adelaide on Wednesday night with neither side wanting to concede the upper hand in a very even contest.
Both sides had their chances to go ahead but neither goalkeeper was beaten and it comes down to 90 minutes at AAMI Park to book another 90 minutes at AAMI Park six days later.
The value in this contest lies squarely with the Reds, considering they have not lost to City all season and defeated them on their only meeting at this venue in February.
There is a very strong possibility we’re going to extra time and penalties but Adelaide are a much better chance of winning in 90 minutes than that market suggests so that’s the bet I’ll be taking.