This article will give you a quick overview of the news and talking points heading into the Elimination Finals. I recommend reading through the official squads named for these games.
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- Adelaide regain Nigel Boogaard from suspension, while Marcelo Carrusca, Awer Mabil, Jimmy Jeggo and Isaias, who were all rested last week, should also return. Isaias is expected to play despite picking up a knock in training earlier this week. Michael Marrone is suspended after he was sent off against Melbourne City, while Bruce Djite misses through a groin injury. Jordan Elsey is out for the season.
- Brisbane have Jade North and Henrique out indefinitely, while Luke DeVere will likely miss the rest of the season. Michael Theo and Shane Stefanutto are both 2 weeks away from a return, meaning Brisbane would need to reach the Grand Final for either to play again this season.
- Melbourne City lose Kew Jaliens to suspension after he was sent off against Adelaide. Safuwan Baharudin is out injured for the rest of the season, so he has been released by the club. Jack Clisby and Robbie Wielaert are out this week and possibly next, should City avoid elimination. The season is over for James Brown, Ben Garuccio, Damien Duff and Jacob Melling. Paulo Retre returns from suspension and Mate Dugandzic from injury.
- Wellington Phoenix have Joel Griffiths sidelined until the end of the season through injury. Glen Moss returns from injury.
Transfer Rollover Issues
Coaches who have logged into the Fantasy A-League website since Wednesday morning will have seen a notice at the top of the screen informing them about an issue that has occurred in the game.
Basically, the ‘free transfer rollover’ was not supposed to happen for finals, however coaches who had a trade saved up were nonetheless given an additional free transfer this round.
This apparently has been caused by the addition of an extra round – originally, Round 27 (last weekend) was Round 9, a mid-week round whose games would have been added onto other rounds (much like the catch-up games caused by the Wanderers ACL and Club World Cup participation).
So to make up for what would be an unfair advantage for those who followed the rules, all players will have 7 free transfers for the Elimination Finals.
The administrators of the game have confirmed to SuperCoach HQ that there will be no transfer rollovers next week – so, use ’em or lose ’em.
How the Finals Work
In week 1 – “Round 28” in Fantasy A-League – the four lower ranked sides (Adelaide, Wellington, Melbourne City and Brisbane) will play-off in elimination games, while the top 2 (Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC) have a bye.
So any Sydney and Victory players you have won’t score points this week, nor will players from any of the eliminated teams (Perth, Central Coast, Western Sydney, Newcastle).
Next week, Victory will face the lowest ranked team to advance from this week at home, while Sydney will play the highest ranked winner from this week. Both of these games are elimination finals, with the two winners advancing to the Grand Final a week later.
For the first week of finals, Fantasy A-League coaches have 7 free transfers to use, and can now select up to 6 players from any team.
In the second week, coaches are given 6 transfers and can again have up to 6 players from a team in their line-up.
For the Grand Final, coaches are given unlimited transfers and can have up to 8 players from a team.
Adelaide United (3rd) vs Brisbane Roar (6th)
Despite finishing the regular season in style with a 4-1 thumping of fellow finalists Melbourne City, Adelaide will need to overcome the odds to advance in the finals this week.
Adelaide have an atrocious finals record – just 2 wins out of 15 A-League Finals matches, and they haven’t defeated Brisbane at home since Round 26 of the 2009/10 season. To make matters worse, they’ve been denied a game on their own ground, with the FFA electing to move the clash to Adelaide Oval.
While Adelaide’s most important player, Marcelo Carrusca, should be fit to return to action after a month-long absence, the Reds have lost Bruce Djite to injury, meaning a reshuffle in attack is again necessary.
Josep Gombau may start Miguel Palanca in Djite’s place, after the mid-season signing opened his account last week playing alongside Djite as a second striker. Palanca’s score of 6 points was his first return above 3 this season. Using Sergio Cirio as a false-nine (as Gombau did in the elimination final loss to Central Coast last season) is another option, but one that is likely to harm his point-scoring output. Cirio is in good form though, with 22 points in his last 3 games.
Cirio’s loss may be a gain for Craig Goodwin, as any switch for Cirio to a more central position (or even the right wing) will likely mean Goodwin is deployed in an advanced role on the left wing. Goodwin has started the last 5 games for Adelaide, scoring 23 points in that period with a high score of 9.
Exactly where Pablo Sanchez fits in is another mystery. While hardly prolific in Fantasy A-League, Sanchez has nonetheless scored 3 times in his last 5 games and picked up 14 points last week. He could start as a striker, on the right wing, or as part of a 4-man midfield with Isaias, Jimmy Jeggo and Carrusca should Gombau deploy his men in a 3-4-3 formation.
Similarly, Awer Mabil may either start on the right wing or be used as an impact sub off the bench. Mabil has not started for the Reds since the Round 19 defeat to Melbourne City, making only 2 substitute appearances since then. He did notably score a late winner against Sydney FC in one of those games for a return of 6 points.
Michael Marrone’s dismissal opens the door for Dylan McGowan to possibly start once again, while it’s safe to assume Nigel Boogaard will return to the starting line-up alongside Osama Malik in central defence. McGowan however may have to make do with a spot on the bench if Gombau instead elects to set up with a 3-man defence, with Tarek Elrich on the left.
For Brisbane, the trip to Adelaide represents a golden chance to keep the hopes of retaining their Championship alive.
Brisbane have already won twice in Adelaide this season, with a 3-2 success only 3 weeks ago; they also eliminated Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium in the 2012/13 Finals Series.
Despite their recent fixture pile-up, expect a freshened-up Roar this week, after a number of key players were again rested in the win over the Jets last week.
Thomas Broich, Matt McKay, Andrija Kaluderovic, Luke Brattan and Brandon Borrello should all return to the starting line-up after missing out last week. Broich has played in only 3 of the Roar’s last 8 A-League games, though he’s tallied 18 points in those 3 appearances. His importance to Brisbane means he must be considered regardless of form.
Kaluderovic too has been used sparingly in the A-League, however he’s in excellent form, with 2 goals and 28 points in his last 3 games. McKay has played twice in the last 7, but scored 15 points from those games (against Adelaide and the Victory, no less). Borrello has missed the Roar’s last 3 A-League encounters, but has picked up 18 points in his last 3 appearances – including 6 on his previous visit to his home city of Adelaide.
Michael Theo is still out injured, which is great news if you still have Jamie Young. Though cheap, Young has hardly been a strong Fantasy performer in recent weeks, with the Roar’s last clean sheet coming at home against the Wanderers in Round 20.
Expect Daniel Bowles and James Donachie to start in central defence given the Roar’s other absences, while Jerome Polenz and Corey Brown will be the likely starters on the right and left sides respectively. Jack Hingert could also feature at right back should Polenz not be fit enough to start.
The return of Roar’s other midfield guns probably means Steven Lustica won’t be given as much freedom to attack as last week, which resulted in an 11-point haul.
Young gun Devante Clut could also play some part, but it’ll probably be off the bench if he does.
Wellington Phoenix (4th) vs Melbourne City (5th)
Wellington come into the finals in indifferent form, with just 1 win in their last 5, and having suffered defeat in 3 of their last 4 home games.
However, they have yet to taste defeat at home in the finals, winning 2 and drawing 1; away from home, they have lost 3 from 3 in previous A-League Finals series. Additionally, 3 of their 6 finals games have gone to extra time.
It’s fair to expect Nathan Burns will find his way back into a few teams this week. While his recent form has been solid but unspectacular (19 points in his last 4; the 4 games before that provided 44 points), he remains the Nix’s main strike weapon and also scored a hat trick against City earlier this season. Since then though, he’s been held scoreless twice by John v’ant Schip’s team.
Joining Burns on the field for Wellington should be fellow midfield premium Michael McGlinchey (though he’s in ordinary form, with just 12 points from his last 4 games), along with Roy Krishna (with, strangely, scores of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in his last 6 games) up forward, while Roly Bonevacia (who followed up Round 26’s 19-point haul with a dismal score of 1 last week), Albert Riera and Alejandro Rodriguez (or Vince Lia) will likely round out the midfield unit.
In defence, Michael Boxall looms as the key fantasy pick – he’s in great form too with scores of 6, 4 and 9 in his last 3 games. He’ll probably be joined by Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat, with Glen Moss set to resume in goals after missing last week through injury.
Melbourne City enter the finals in concerning form, with no wins in their last 4 games. Prior to that, however, they had won 3 in a row, and conceded only 1 goal in 5 games before leaking 3 and 4 in the last 2 weeks.
The 4-1 loss to Adelaide is particularly depressing, as the Reds fielded a second-string side in an experimental formation against a strong City line-up.
City have participated in finals just once before (as Melbourne Heart), losing their only finals game 3-0 away to Perth Glory in 2011-12.
Their last 2 games against Wellington have ended in 0-0 draws, though in the first meeting this season the Nix smashed them 5-1.
Tando Velaphi will probably start in goals. City’s recent strong defensive form has seen Velaphi produce a decent run of scores (36 points in 5 rounds), before collapsing in the last 2 rounds (scores of 1 and 0). Connor Chapman and Patrick Kisnorbo – the highest scoring defender this season – should start in central defence. Kew Jaliens’ suspension and the absence of Jack Clisby means any of Jason Hoffman, Paulo Retre or Iain Ramsay could play as the wide defenders.
Erik Paartalu, Jonatan Germano and Aaron ‘must-have’ Mooy (21 points in his last 2 games, despite City being well beaten in both) are the likely starters in midfield, while the attacking trio should be comprised of Josh Kennedy (only 1 score above 5 this season), Harry Novillo (has scored 9 points 3 times in his last 6 games) and Robi Koren (only 1 score above 5 in his last 6 appearances). David Williams could also start in attack, as may Mate Dugandzic – though a spot on the bench for these fallen former Fantasy favourites is more likely.