The early weeks of the A-League schedule has been thrown into disarray by COVID-19, but the rejigged Matchday 2 docket features four big clashes.
History: Played 43: Sydney 24 V Wellington 14 (5 Draws)
Last meeting: July 17, 2020: Sydney 3 d Wellington 1 at Jubilee Oval
Final Thoughts: Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC make their A-League 2020-21 season bow after an opening-week false start.
The Phoenix are heading into a campaign potentially spent entirely in Australia. After a slow start to last season, the Kiwi outfit surged to a third-place finish – the club’s best ever. The Phoenix will be without midfielder Reno Piscopo, while skipper Ulises Davila and big signing Tomer Hemed are likely to start off the bench.
Sydney FC pulled off the Premiers Plate-Grand Final winners double last season and have maintained a stable squad for their title defence. The return of Bobo offsets the absence of the prolific Adam le Fondre, currently on loan to Mumbai. But the quarantining Brazilian goal machine won’t be available for another couple of weeks.
Sydney FC boast eight wins and two draws from their last 11 matches against Wellington. Last season the eventual champs bookended a 2-all draw with 2-1 and 3-1 wins over the vastly improved Phoenix.
A smoother build-up points to the Sky Blues maintaining their dominance in this rivalry.
History: Played 43: Victory 20 V Brisbane 15 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: July 29, 2020: Brisbane 2 d Victory 1 at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: Melbourne Victory take their first step towards burying the memories of a miserable 2019-20 A-League season, where they finished second-last. The likes of Andrew Nabbout and James Donachie are big losses, but Englishman Callum McManaman and promising Aussie Ben Folami – on loan from Ipswich Town – represent exciting signings.
Brisbane Roar are aiming to bounce back from a first-up 1-0 loss to Melbourne City FC on Tuesday. As expected, the Roar returned to an attack-focused game-plan following defensively-minded coach Robbie Fowler’s
The Victory have won six and drawn one of their last nine against Brisbane. Honours were shared in two clashes last season, however, with both sides picking up an away win over the other.
With a match under their belt, the Roar are a strong chance of pulling off an upset result. But the under looks arguably the best play in this one.
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Macarthur FC enjoyed a dream start to life in the A-League, snaring a 1-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday.
The fledgling Bulls took the three points after captain Mark Milligan’s 72nd-minute goal. Their mix of seasoned veterans and promising youth is set to prove a thorn in the side of many an A-League rival.
Reigning wooden spooners Central Coast are also shooting for consecutive wins to open the campaign. Alou Kuol headed a goal in late in the first half to deliver the Mariners a 1-0 victory over the Jets.
With both sides hitting the ground running, I’ll back a draw with the Mariners appearing well over the odds at $5.50.
History: Played 33: Adelaide 13 V Melbourne City 11 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: August 11, 2020: 2-2 draw at AAMI Park
Final Thoughts: Adelaide United line up for their first home game after earning a point against Western United in Geelong in the A-League season opener. The match finished nil-all, but the Reds looked promising on attack with returning Socceroos stalwart Tomi Juric up front.
Melbourne City held on for a 1-0 away win over Brisbane, despite a second-half red card for Adrian Luna. Connor Metcalfe scored the 52nd-minute winner.
Despite missing the finals while Melbourne City finished second, Adelaide had the edge last season with an FFA Cup final win, a home A-League victory and a draw in Melbourne from four encounters.
The teams are hard to split after handy first-up showings, but I’ll give the edge to the visitors here.