Sunday, March 7, 2010

Semi final preview

Four games to go. Two semi finals, a preliminary final and a grand final. So here's a preview of two of those games, the minor semi-final and the second leg of the major semi final.


Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets, Minor semi-final, Westpac Stadium, Sunday, 2.00pm (both times EDT)

Luka: Mark Jones, Branko's right-hand mand man with the Jets, foreshadows (indirectly) an opening onslaught by the Phoenix: "It is important that we keep that shape especially for the first 30 minutes. It is important that we don't break down in the first 30 minutes and basically making sure in a nutshell that we have a system of play that we follow." In other words, defend and hope for the best in what is going to be a white-hot atmosphere at the sold out Cake Tin stadium (fitting name really) in Wellington. Tickets for the game were snapped up like hotcakes (ok I'll stop) in what are exciting times for football in New Zealand.

Kieran: Wellington have been building over the past few weeks, and although they had to go to penalties against Perth, they're still on hot form. Newcastle were very against Gold Coast, and will once again probably struggle up front (unless Kaz Patafta puts on a masterclass...). With a capacity crowd behind them I can't see anything other than a Phoenix victory. Wellington 2-1

Marcus: I can't see Newcastle winning this game. With a sold out Westpac Stadium and form on there side Wellington should do it relatively easily. On the team sheet Newcastle get Ben Kantarovski back and Wellington lose McKain through suspension, but I can't see it making a difference. Newcastle have been struggling especially without Michael Bridges up front, they were lucky to beat GCU last week as they rarely threatened for large periods during the match. Wellington 3-0

Luka: Despite my predictions always being totally and utterly wrong, I'll perspire regardless. Newcastle are an organised side at the best of times. Furthermore, Wellington aren't exactly the most water-tight team in the A-League. If the inevitable opening onslaught by the Phoenix is initially unsuccessful, with the backdrop of a boisterous crowd demanding nothing but blood victory, Newcastle may just snatch this on the counter. But then again they might not. 2-0 to the Phoenix.


Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory, Major semi-final, second leg, SFS, Sunday, 5.00pm

Kieran: Melbourne might have Archie and Kruse back, but even so both will be lacking match fitness. Sydney will struggle without Corica, but the Brosque and Bridge should still be able to add a few to the score sheet. It'll be a tight game, but at the end of the day it's Sydney for me. Sydney 2-0, Sydney go through 3-2 on aggregate

Marcus: It will be a tough game for both teams. Mark Bridge will return for the Sky Blues while Shannon Cole is doubtful. Melbourne lose Nik Mrjda through suspension, but gain Archie, Robbie Kruse and Mate Dugandzic to turn a toothless forward line into one that will only need half a chance to score.

I think Sydney will be pushing high up the pitch for the goal they need to win, but it will leave them open on the counter, allowing Melbourne to play there favourite style of game play as Archie and Kruse will look to expose the defence with there pace. A Sydney will continue to struggle with captain Corica and will find it hard to breach the Melbourne defence. Draw 1-1, Melbourne 3-2 on aggregate

Luka: Sydney to win 2-1 in normal time, with a dull and tired 30 minutes of extra time followed by a dramatic penalty shootout with Melbourne probably winning on penalties. Check out my full preview of this game here.

Enjoy the games!

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