Wed, Jul 18, 11:46am by Staff Writer
The 2018/19 Hyundai A-League fixture was recently released, with reigning champions Melbourne Victory beginning their season with a derby game against rivals Melbourne City.
The 2017/18 champions are $5 at Sportsbet to repeat their unlikely title winning campaign and have a favourable draw to begin the season.
Their first five matches consist of home games against City, Perth Glory and the Central Coast Mariners.
A road trip to Jubilee Oval in round five for a rematch of the last season’s preliminary final against Sydney FC is an early highlight of the draw.
The Sky Blues were the runaway favourites for back-to-back titles, but faltered at the end of the season.
Sydney had to contend with Asian Champions League matches in the latter part of the season, which impacted on squad rotation and fluency.
Their 25-match undefeated streak at home was ended by Brisbane Roar late in the season and a crushing loss to Victory in the finals will certainly have the squad hungry ahead of the new season.
They are $4.50 favourites at Sportsbet to win their second title in three seasons, with new coach Steve Corica in charge now that Graham Arnold is coaching the Socceroos.
Perennial underachievers Melbourne City are $5 to win their first A-League title and will need to show marked improvement to earn post-season success.
City always recruit well, but on-field success has alluded them thus far. Their first five matches feature tough contests against Victory and Sydney FC, although both are in Melbourne.
A home match against Wellington in round four and a road trip to Gosford in round two should provide maximum points early in the season.
The Western Sydney Wanderers have found winning difficult in recent season’s since their blistering start to life in the A-League.
The Wanderers are $8 to win the A-League and with their new home ground in Parramatta not featuring again this season, they will spread their home games over a number of venues in the upcoming season.
Their first five matches will be played at five different venues, including one in Mudgee at Glen Willow Stadium against Brisbane Roar.
Since Tony Popovic left the club last season, they have parted ways with Josep Gombau. German coach Markus Babbel who played 51 matches for Germany and recently coached FC Luzern in Switzerland is at the helm this season.
The Newcastle Jets enjoyed a welcome revival under coach Ernie Merrick last season, finishing the regular season in second place.
They went all the way to the Grand Final, but lost out to a better Victory side on the night.
The Jets are $8 to win the 2018/19 A-League title. A pair of tough home games against Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory feature in their first month of the new season and will be a test for the team.
Adelaide United are $9.50 to return to glory and are once against coached by Marco Kurz. A 2-1 loss in last season’s elimination final was a fair reflection of Adelaide’s level last season, but they will be looking for a top four finish this season.
Perth have hired former Wanderers coach Tony Popovic to head coach the side after relieving Kenny Lowe of his duties after a number of unsuccessful season.
The Glory has underachieved in the A-League after being one of the powerhouses of the old National Soccer League. They are $12 to win the A-League and have secured a number of high calibre defensive players to help them win the title.
Wellington Phoenix has suffered a number of years of uncertainty surrounding their A-League license and viability in the competition.
Mark Rudan is their new coach and has enforced a total roster overhaul. The Phoenix are $23 to win the A-League and with three of their first five matches at home, will be targeting points at the start of the new campaign.
The Mariners are $26 to win the A-League after finishing bottom of the table in 2017/18. The Mariners fortunes are unlikely to improve given their lack of off-season signings. Coach Mike Mulvey who coached Brisbane Roar from 2012-14 is at the helm for his first season in Gosford.
2018/19 A-League Title Odds – Sportsbet
Sydney FC $4.50
Melbourne Victory $5
Melbourne City $5
Western Sydney Wanderers $8
Newcastle Jets $8
Adelaide United $9.50
Brisbane Roar $12
Perth Glory $12
Wellington Phoenix $23
Central Coast Mariners $26
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