Wed, Apr 25, 3:06pm by Staff Writer
There are only four teams remaining in the race to become the 2017-18 A-League champion with two semi-finals taking place this weekend to decide who will line up in next weekend’s Grand Final.
Newcastle Jets versus Melbourne City
Friday, 27 April 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at McDonald Jones Stadium
The Newcastle Jets are $2.55 favourites at home when they host Melbourne City who are $2.65 outsiders on Friday night.
Newcastle had a first week bye during the finals after finishing second during the regular season, while Melbourne City took on Brisbane in Melbourne.
City were dominant in the first-half without scoring, before a pair of second half goals ensured victory in a tense affair down the stretch.
These two sides met three times during the regular season, with Melbourne City winning twice and the teams drawing once.
Both of City’s wins came in Newcastle, where they won 2-1 in December and 3-0 recently at the beginning of April.
In that match, City scored through Bruno Fornaroli and a pair of goals to Dario Vidosic as they hammered a Jets team that looked clueless at the attacking end of the field.
Despite having 52 per cent of possession on the night, the Jets managed only three shots on target and didn’t look to trouble City.
The loss of Andrew Nabbout to the J-League has been a big downside to the Jets in the latter part of the season, with the side seeing to lack quality in front of goal.
Their final regular season match against Central Coast where they netted eight goals could have been just what Ernie Merrick’s side needed heading into the finals, after a lean March and April period.
Newcastle are assured Asian Champions League football next season which is a great achievement for the club, but it is not often you get a home semi-final in this competition, so they will want to make the most of it.
This will be a close encounter, but City should be the hungrier franchise, are in better form and have recent history of beating the Jets on their own turf.
We are predicting a draw after 90 minutes at $3.40, but City to qualify at $1.83.
Suggested Bets: Newcastle Jets Melbourne City draw at $3.40 and Melbourne City to qualify at $1.83
Sydney FC versus Melbourne Victory
Saturday, 28 April 2018 at 7.50pm AEST at Allianz Stadium
The 2017-18 A-League title has been Sydney FC’s to lose for some time as they breezed through the regular season without a hiccup.
The Sky Blues are $1.75 at Sportsbet to beat Melbourne Victory who are $4.30, with Victory seeking the ultimate revenge after losing last season’s Grand Final in a penalty shootout.
Sydney has been dominant at home during the past two seasons, losing only once to the Roar this year in that time.
In this rivalry of two of the most successful clubs in A-League history, it is Sydney who hold the ascendency in recent times.
Sydney has won the past seven matches it has played against Victory at all venues, including last year’s Grand Final.
The last time Melbourne had success against their fierce rival was a 1-0 win on Australia Day in 2016.
The most recent fixture between the two sides took place two seeks ago in the final round of the regular season.
An eighth minute Bobo goal was all that separated the teams, with Melbourne dominating the possession with 60 per cent of the ball, but relinquishing more shots at goal to its opposition, 13 in total, compared to its nine.
Melbourne met a dogged Adelaide United side last Sunday and needed a miracle Berisha goal in the 89th minute to seal a comeback victory after going down a goal early in the second half.
They can’t afford that sort of performance against Sydney on the weekend, but the Sky Blues won’t let Victory back into the game like Adelaide did.
Victory play with a lot of heart and passion, but Sydney has been the team to beat all season and Victory haven’t been able to get one over them for some time now.
Best bet- Sydney FC to win at $1.75
A-League Semi Final Odds – Sportsbet
Newcastle $2.55 Draw $3.40 Melbourne City $2.65
Sydney $1.75 Draw $3.80 Melbourne Victory $4.30
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