This weekend will see the semi-finals of the Hyundai A-League played to determine which two teams will contest for the title of A-League Champions on 4 May.
Of note is the fact that these teams are the same four that played out last year’s semi-finals, with the Wanderers vanquishing the Roar 2-0 to progress to the final, and Central Coast defeating the Victory 1-nil. The Mariners would go on to be crowned the A-League Champions for the 2012-13 season with a 2-0 victory.
Given the bi-annual symmetry, the meaningful statistics of the last two years of competition have been dug out, to bring you the telling facts and figures that will predict with 100 per cent certainty, the semi-final winners and grand-final competitors for the 2013-14 season. You’re welcome!
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners
In achievement that is sure to please the tattooed faithful of the RBB, Wanderers will be making their second successive semi-final. As well as providing their fans, for at least one more week, with an excuse to go shirtless in public, it may also offer a chance for revenge on the opposition team that ended their fairytale run in 2012-13. Despite now knowing the bitter taste of second-place from last season, their consecutive placings of first and second in the A-League’s normal competition suggest a team strong on form and full of confidence. Their recent advancement in the Asian Champions League will only help to reinforce this.
For the Central Coast Mariners, last season saw the end of their curse as always the bridesmaid and never the bride in the Hyundai A-League. Their three previous unsuccessful grand finals appearances were quickly forgotten by the Coasters when the 2012-13 final saw them down A-League newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers in a thrilling encounter. Aware that this week’s match will see them take the field with a larger-than-normal target on their back, they will be looking to break the Wanderers’ hearts once more in this much-hyped return.
The statistics that count…
- The Mariners: Wishing that Every day’s a Saturday – Central Coast have the edge when it comes to fixtures played out on a Saturday, with a win percentage of 57 per cent in the last two seasons of A-League competition. The Wanderers have only managed a measly 52 per cent.
- Western Sydney’s Attention-Seekers – Of the 24 matches the Wanderers have play in with a crowd of over 15,000, they have won 12 of them. The Mariners could only manage 4 from their 12 (although two of these were against the Wanderers).
- Mariners are indifferent to M1 (formerly: the F3) traffic – Proving that driving south to fight Sydney’s traffic ain’t no thang, Central Coast have registered 3 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses when forced to endure a southbound journey on the Pacific Motorway.
- Wanderers have “parramattitude” co-dependence – In weeks where the Parramatta Eels and Wanderers have both had matches, the Wanderers have lost just 23 per cent of its matches (7 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses).
- Idle hands are the devil’s playground for the Mariners- The week off in finals has been a false economy for Central Coast, with them registering a 100 per cent loss in their matches played in the last two seasons that followed a week off (sample size=1).
The prediction that matters…
Despite needing to overturn a five percentage point differential when it comes to the Saturday fixture, the thoughts of sweet revenge will be too great an incentive for the Western Sydney outfit, and will see them run away with a dominant victory.
Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory
The A-League’s most successful club of the last few years, the Brisbane Roar have led the way in this year’s competition as well, finishing the season 10 points clear at the top of the table. If you can believe it, their semi-final showdown with the Victory will be the first meeting of the clubs in finals fixtures and will also see their talismanic striker Besart Berisha line up against his future club in what is sure to be a thrilling affair. A win here will see the Roar join the Mariners for most number of finals qualifications (with seven) as well as gain a shot at a record-breaking third A-League Championship.
The Victory will be looking to reach their first A-League Grand-final in five seasons with a win at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday. Despite having not beaten Brisbane at home since 21 November 2009, Melbourne will be buoyed by the Roar’s shock defeat at home last week to the Mariners.
The statistics that count..
- Brisbane have but one weakness… disparnumerophobia (a fear of odd numbers) – In matches where the Roar have played on an odd-numbered day, they have only managed a win rate of 35 per cent. Melbourne are batting quite a bit higher at 46 per cent.
- Melbourne’s Big blue bruises – In the week following a Big Blue encounter with Sydney, Melbourne have managed just 1 win from 6.
- The Roar have (Anzac Day) Friday on their mind – In matches played on or following a public holiday, they have lost just a single solitary match and have a win rate of 78 per cent. For the Victory it is only 55 per cent.
- The Victory are the ultimate (national) home-bodies – While AFC Champions League football has only been a part of the Melbourne diet for 2013-14, their domestic record following AFC matches reads a healthy 4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss. Their mid-week failure in South Korea could spurn success on the home front. Muscat, you sly dog!
- Brisbane will have the royal treatment – In matches played subsequent to a visit to Australia from the British Royal Family, the Roar are batting at 100 per cent from their two matches. However the Britannic intervention seems to have no effect on the Victory, having played out two draws in their matches.
The prediction that matters…
Brisbane Roar 2-1
Brisbane Roar manager Mike Mulvey will have the foresight to lock away any stray calendars floating around Suncorp Stadium in the lead-up to this match, relying on belligerent Anzac Day celebrations from his players to help get the Roar across the line.