Adelaide United (+125) vs Western Sydney Wanderers (+200), 120 Minute Draw (+250)
The A-League Trophy will be at stake this Sunday when Adelaide United take on Western Sydney Wanderers at the Adelaide Oval in the one-game winner-takes-all Grand Final (12:00 AM Eastern).
Adelaide United were crowned a A-League Premiers, finishing on top of the table with 49 points in 27 games; the Wanderers ended the year just a point back, but come into the Grand Final as fairly significant road ‘dogs.
The Reds of Adelaide United have reached the Grand Final twice before, but never hoisted the trophy, losing to Melbourne in both 2007 and 2009.
They looked strong in reaching this year’s title game, though, ousting Melbourne City by a 4-1 score in the semifinals. The single goal against was par for the course; the Reds led the A-League, surrendering just 28 goals over the season’s 27 fixtures.
Bruce Djite had a brace in the win. Keeper Eugene Galekovic narrowly missed his 13th clean sheet of the season, surrendering a 72nd minute goal to Nick Fitzgerald.
The Wanderers were the second-best defensive team in the league (44 goals-for, 33 goals-against) and, as you might expect, the two defensive-minded squads played to two scoreless draws in the regular season (plus another 1-1 draw).
The semis didn’t go anything as planned for Western Sydney, however. Their stout defense was cracked four times by the Brisbane Roar, and the Wanderers needed extra time to advance (5-4).
Romeo Castelen had a hattrick for Western Sydney, while Dario Vidosic played the hero, potting the winner in the 102nd minute.
While the team’s defensive showing might have fans a little concerned, they can breathe a sigh of relief that star midfielder Mitch Nichols will be available for the Grand Final. Nichols was facing a possible suspension for an offensive gesture he made after the win, but he was declared free to play.
Nichols, the team’s second-leading scorer, will receive just a fine instead.
Given how tightly these teams played each other in the regular season and how well both defend (on most nights), the draw looks like the best value.
Pick: 120 minute draw (+250).
(Photo Credit: Eric Berry aka Efcso (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)