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A-League round-25 preview panel

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/03/2017

PREVIEW OF A-LEAGUE ROUND-25 MATCHES (all times AEDT):

FRIDAY, March 31

Adelaide United v Perth at Coopers Stadium 7.50pm

Head to Head: Adelaide 19 Glory 14 drawn 12

Last clash: Round 19 2016-17 - Glory 5 bt Reds 0 at Coopers Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Reds $2.50 Glory $2.60 Draw $3.60

Adelaide regain Riley McGree after Socceroos duty and Marcelo Carrusca from suspension as they look for a third-successive win against a Glory side whose hopes of a home final are fading fast. Kenny Lowe's men have been tonked by three-goal margins in their past two matches and must win here to stay in touch with Melbourne City and Brisbane, one of whom they'll likely face in the first week of the finals.

Key: There's a lot riding on Dino Djulbic's shoulders in Perth's defence with Rhys Williams suspended and Rostyn Griffiths, Alex Grant and Shane Lowry all injured.

Tip: Glory

SATURDAY, April 1

Newcastle v Western Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium 5.35pm

Head to Head: Jets 3 Wanderers 7 drawn 4

Last clash: Round 16 2016-17 - Wanderers 2 bt Jets 0 at Campbelltown Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Jets $3.00 Wanderers $2.20 Draw $3.65

Just when the Wanderers are finding form, Newcastle have misplaced theirs - badly. Sunday's 5-0 surrender to a depleted Wellington was the Jets' third loss in four games and left them mathematically unable to catch the sixth-placed Wanderers, who unpicked Melbourne City 3-1 to be just one point behind Perth. This is the Jets' final home outing and, if nothing else, a chance to restore some pride after failing to make playoffs for a seventh season running.

Key: Veteran striker Brendon Santalab is suspended and, after five goals in two games, that's good news for the Jets.

Tip: Western Sydney

Sydney FC v Melbourne City at Allianz Stadium 7.50pm

Head to Head: Sydney 6 City 7 drawn 9

Last clash: Round 21 2016-17 - Sydney 3 bt City 1 at AAMI Park

Tab Sportsbet: Sydney $1.70 City $4.70 Draw $3.90

The Sky Blues already have 18 wins in the bag and Graham Arnold expects his premiers to take all three final games. The sometimes brilliant but often inconsistent City were humbled 3-1 by the Wanderers last weekend and appear there for the taking. While Socceroos Danny Vukovic and Rhyan Grant will be rushed straight back in, Arnold might have to shuffle his backline if centre-back Jordy Buijs doesn't recover from muscle tightness in time. City's Tim Cahill also returns from international duty but a question marks remains over the fitness of key defender Michael Jakobsen.

Key: Expect another scrappy pitch after torrential rain coupled with Friday night's NRL game. Arnold believes it favours Sydney because his players have the technical ability to deal with the poor surface.

Tip: Sydney

SUNDAY, April 2

Melbourne Victory v Wellington at AAMI Park 5.00pm

Head to Head: Victory 18 Phoenix 7 drawn 6

Last clash: Round 15 2016-17 - Phoenix 3 bt Victory 0 at Westpac Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Victory $1.55 Phoenix $5.50 Draw $4.25

There's not much more to play for other than pride for these two sides. But after a largely forgettable campaign so far, Wellington restored some credibility with last week's stunning 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle. Incredibly, they did it with six players away on international duty, and they'll all return this week, suggesting they could have a real pre-finals shock in store for Victory, who will have four of their own key players back on deck as well.

Key: How will the hyper-emotional Besart Berisha respond in his club comeback after representing his beloved Kosovo last week for the first time?

Tip: Melbourne Victory

Brisbane v Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium 7.00pm

Head to Head: Roar 27 Mariners 9 drawn 13

Last clash: Round 11 2016-17 - Roar 2 bt Mariners 1 at Central Coast Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Roar $1.40 Mariners $7.25 Draw $4.80

After so much promise, it's all going a little awry for Central Coast. They've copped three losses on the bounce and another one in Brisbane would make them odds-on to collect the wooden spoon. Even worse, captain Nick Montgomery is suspended. The Roar have plenty of personnel problems of their own - Tommy Oar and Matt McKay are injured and Michael Theo is suspended - but they will be confident of a win at home.

Key: Jamie Maclaren will be keen to keep showing Ange Postecoglou what he can do after scoring a wonder goal from outside the box at the weekend against Victory.

Tip: Brisbane

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