The Knee-jerk: semi-finals review

The penultimate weekend of A-League football saw Melbourne Victory beat their city rivals, whilst Sydney were too good for Adelaide.

It sets up an exciting Big Blue grand final on Sunday afternoon.

This is the final chance for Fantasy managers to acquire the points necessary to overtake that rival, to push for a personal best highest finish, or to simply claim mini-league bragging rights.

In the final Fantasy round, managers are granted unlimited transfers before the deadline, and there are some real selection dilemmas to navigate.

There a few ways managers can construct their final team, and ultimately the key decision will be getting the right player on the day – which sounds obvious, but because the grand final will be played on finer margins, teams understandably are bound to play more conservatively. This is not to say the final round of Fantasy A-League is a lottery, but it’s recommended to find a balance of players rather than throwing all your Fantasy eggs in one basket.

However, this is also a strategy that could pay off. Should you opt to play a five-man defence made up of Sydney FC players, you could hit the jackpot, but one goal will see you plummet down the rankings. Similarly, loading your team with Melbourne Victory attackers in the hope they win 5-0 is an unlikely pay-off. These kind of cavalier approaches will rarely work and historically have no substantial evidence that they work at all.

Therefore, it’s a safer bet to construct a more balanced team based on current form, the day itself, and perhaps a little sentimental value too.

Sydney’s swashbuckling strikers, having easily accounted for Adelaide, are giving Fantasy managers serious selection headaches. There is an abundance of viable forward options from either team but it’s the form factor that makes Bernie Ibini and Alex Brosque such an appealing option.

The pair are the two most in-form players in the game and in their last three games have amassed a huge 61 points between them. Although it is bound to increase, their ownership is still surprisingly low – Brosque at 7.1% and Ibini with 9%. Marc Janko is firmly in the backseat now, yet there’s no reason why the golden boot winner won’t turn up for the grand final – it would be typical of Sydney’s topsy-turvy Fantasy season. Chris Naumoff is also a real outside shot and has huge value at $117k.

Sydney’s forward options warrant ten times more Fantasy attention than positions elsewhere, and are easily the most attractive aspect of the team. However, Milos Djimitrijevic (3rd in shot-assists and bonus points) could prove to be a popular pick given his consistency, so to Seb Ryall on the back of his habit of scoring against his former employers.

If narrowing down two of three Sydney strikers wasn’t hard enough, the form of Kosta Barbarouses and sheer inevitability of a Besart Berisha goal makes the decision near impossible. Add the sentimental but entirely plausible possibility of a late Archie Thompson winner and we may see Fantasy managers lobby for a fourth forward position.

It’s hard to ignore Berisha, who loves scoring in finals, and is bound to be one of the leading captain choices. It’s equally as difficult to better the selections of Khalfallah and Finkler, although there’s a case for picking Mark Milligan, who has 25 points in his last three. Having a penalty taker in your Fantasy team in the grand final is priceless.

Whilst tripling up on Victory midfielders looks profitable, the same can’t be said for the defensive third. Lawrence Thomas might be in just about everyone’s team given his price ($124k), meanwhile the recent goal-scoring exploits of Daniel Georgeovski (24 points in his last three games) will make him popular with managers. Nick Ansell leads the clearances, blocks and interceptions category for the Victory.

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