This article will give you a quick overview of the news and talking points heading into the Semi Finals. I recommend reading through the official squads named for these games.
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- Adelaide is expected to regain Bruce Djite from injury and Michael Marrone from suspension. According to the Adelaide Advertiser, Djite, Tarek Elrich, Nigel Boogaard and Jimmy Jeggo are all under an injury cloud but expected to play. Jordan Elsey is out for the season.
- Melbourne City regain Kew Jaliens from suspension and Mate Dugandzic from injury. Jack Clisby (1 week) and Robbie Wielaert (1-2 weeks) are still out through injury. The season is over for James Brown, Ben Garuccio, Damien Duff and Jacob Melling.
- Melbourne Victory regain Jason Geria from injury, while Jordan Brown is unavailable. Nathan Coe is out for the rest of the season.
- Sydney FC regain Terry Antonis and Marc Janko from injury. Sasa Ognenovski, Nick Carle, Corey Gameiro and Ali Abbas are all out injured for the rest of the season.
This week sees the winners from week 1, Adelaide and Melbourne City, play off with the top 2 teams from the regular season, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, for a spot in the Grand Final next week.
These are again one-off matches where there must be a winner on the night, meaning 30 minutes of extra time if the match ends in a draw, and then a penalty shootout if the teams still cannot be separated. Points scored in extra time do count in Fantasy A-League, but penalties scored / missed / saved in a shootout do not.
Coaches have 6 free transfers to use this week, and can again have a maximum of 6 players from 1 team. For the Grand Final next weekend, coaches will receive unlimited transfers and can have up to 8 players from 1 team.
Last week’s defeated teams – Brisbane and Wellington – have been eliminated, and their players (along with those from Perth, Central Coast, Western Sydney and Newcastle) will no longer score points. So trade ’em out!
Melbourne Victory (1st) vs Melbourne City (5th)
Regardless of who they faced Melbourne Victory were always going to be favourites this week. However, something of a spanner has been thrown into the works with local rivals City advancing ahead of Wellington, meaning that Victory essentially do not have home ground advantage for this game.
We have to go back to Round 16 for the last Melbourne derby, won 3-0 by the Victory with the ‘Killer Bs’ – Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah – all scoring. Victory also won the first derby this season by 3 goals, a 5-2 success which saw Berisha net a hat trick and Archie Thompson a brace, while Rob Wielaert and Jason Hoffman scored for City, who incredibly led twice in that game. Both of these matches were held at Etihad Stadium, as is the upcoming final.
Sandwiched in between that pair of 3 goal triumphs for the Victory is a 1-0 win for City in Round 11 at AAMI Park, with Erik Paartalu scoring in stoppage time to end Victory’s unbeaten start to the season.
While the all-time record is quite even, with 6 wins for Victory, 5 wins for City and 3 draws, Victory edge the head-to-head meetings in recent times, winning 5 of the last 9, while City have 3 wins in that time. At Etihad, City have just won once from 7 games, while there have been 3 wins for Victory and 3 draws in the other derbies played there.
Melbourne Victory attackers should be at the top of every fantasy coach’s shopping list. Berisha has netted four times already against City this season, and he’s in reasonably good form with 2 goals and an assist in his last 3 games for 27 points. Ben Khalfallah only has 2 assists (both coming in one game against Brisbane) in his last 5 games, however he has scored 26 points in his last 4 games.
Gui Finkler’s name may be absent from the list of scorers, though he has a reasonable record against City this season – scores of 6, 2 and 7, with the 2 being his return from injury off the bench. Excluding the 2 points he scored against Brisbane off the bench, in his last 5 starts Finkler has scored a total of 54 points.
Aaron Mooy must be held onto (surely you’ve already got him). Mooy’s scores against Victory are 11, 9 and 4, and given that City will again look to exploit Victory’s perceived weakness from aerial delivery (look at who has scored for City in the derbies earlier this season – 2 defenders and a defensive midfielder), we can expect Mooy to feature prominently in this game. Mooy is in superb form as well, with scores of 10, 11 and 12 in his last 3 games. His last 10 games have produced 6 double-figure scores, along with a 9, 2 6s and a low score of 5.
Jamie Young’s elimination means some coaches will need to pick up a new keeper this week. Both of these teams offer cheap options, with Tando Velaphi priced at $161k and Lawrence Thomas at just $124k – a tempting price given that he plays for the title favourites.
Harry Novillo is one City attacker worth considering, given his $156k price tag and recent form, where he has scored 21 points in his last 3 games – possibly a handy pick-up for coaches trying to squeeze as many big guns into their teams as possible.
We can’t read much into City’s finals record, given this is only their 3rd ever finals game – they have 1 win and 1 loss, and are yet to play at home. The Victory have an excellent finals record, winning 8 of 14 games including 7 of 9 at home, where they are also undefeated in finals – though Sydney did beat them on penalties in the 2010 Grand Final after a 1-1 draw.
Sydney FC (2nd) vs Adelaide United (3rd)
The second semi final looms as an intriguing one, as despite Sydney’s deserved favouritism going into the game they have a terrible recent record against the Reds.
Adelaide have defeated Sydney 3 times this season in Sydney (including the FFA Cup Quarter Final), while the teams played out a 0-0 draw in Adelaide in Round 5.
Adelaide’s record in Sydney since 2010/11 is incredible, with the Reds winning 7 of 9 games and losing only once. Sydney also haven’t beaten Adelaide for 7 games, and have won only 1 of the last 10 meetings between the teams.
However, to balance this out somewhat, Adelaide’s finals record is appalling. Last week’s win over Brisbane only their 3rd ever A-League Finals win from 16 games. They’ve also lost every one of the 8 away league finals they’ve played (including in the NSL), while conceding a massive 25 goals and scoring just 3 in reply. This includes some heavy defeats – 6-0 and 4-0 to the Victory, 5-0 to Perth Glory and 4-1 to Brisbane Strikers (a game which Adelaide carried a 3-0 lead into from the first leg).
Sydney’s finals record makes for only slightly better reading despite their pair of Championships (they too have a shocking away record), with the Sky Blues winning just 4 of their 13 finals games. However, at home they are undefeated in the finals from 6 games, and all 4 of their wins have come on their own pitch.
Sydney and Adelaide have met twice before in the finals, in the 2 legs of the 2005/06 Major Semi Final, which saw the teams play out a 2-2 draw at Hindmarsh before Sydney triumphed 2-1 at home to reach that season’s Grand Final.
So, for fantasy coaches, the conundrum is whether to bank on Adelaide continuing their dream run against Sydney or if they are to spectacularly implode once again. In the case of the latter, Bernie Ibini may make a strong case to be your captain. Ibini has scored 41 points in his last 4 games (including a goal in each of his last 3 games) and also scored the goal that eliminated Adelaide from the finals last season (for Central Coast).
Marc Janko’s form and fitness have both suffered in recent weeks, with the striker picking up just 13 points in his last 4 games. This may see him overlooked for other options like Ibini and Alex Brosque, who is the only Sydney player to find the back of the net against Adelaide this season (in the FFA Cup). Brosque is somewhat erratic in terms of point scoring, with his last 4 games producing scores of 5, 14, 16 and 2.
Jacques Faty provides a reliable cheap link into Sydney’s defence, while Milos Dimitrijevic can usually be relied upon for a reasonable but unspectacular points return for a decent price – however, his record against Adelaide this season is poor, with returns of 4, 2 and 3.
For Adelaide, it might be worthwhile to look at players who would normally be fringe choices in fantasy. Awer Mabil has scored twice against Sydney this season and netted the winner against the Roar last week. The only problem with Mabil is that he may once again have to come off the bench. Similarly, Bruce Djite – hardly a noted scorer of goals – has scored 3 times against the Sky Blues this campaign (including 2 in the FFA Cup).
Despite his poor output last week, Marcelo Carrusca remains a key player for the Reds, as does Sergio Cirio, who may return to his favoured left wing role this week. Craig Goodwin’s stunning free-kick against Brisbane was his second goal in his last 4 games (the other also coming against the Roar), showing that he can be damaging in fantasy when given opportunities. He has 32 points in his last 4 games.
The return of Michael Marrone from suspension may see Gombau revert to a back 4, meaning Dylan McGowan will likely drop to the bench.