ABC Pod Elimination Finals preview: How two Reds can “spoil the party” in Redcliffe

The 2020/21 A-League Finals Series gets underway on Saturday, June 12, and Robbie Cornthwaite and Daniel Garb have offered up their Elimination Finals predictions on another weekly episode of The ABC Grandstand Football Podcast.

Central Coast Mariners host Macarthur FC at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday night before Brisbane Roar welcome Adelaide United to Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday afternoon to decide which of the two teams placed third to sixth on the A-League table progress to meet either Melbourne City or Sydney FC in the Semi Finals.

The two football analysts have had their say on the potential outcome of each winner-takes-all Elimination Final matchup, putting a pair of Adelaide forwards under the microscope and pondering if the “magic” in the Gosford air will help the Mariners get over the line against an experienced Macarthur side.

Listen to the ABC Grandstand Football Podcast HERE

READ: ON SALE – How you can purchase your tickets to Final Series
MORE: Valeri reveals the agony and ecstasy of playing in a grand final

A-League 2021 Finals Series

Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC – Saturday, June 12

“I feel strongly that that energy might just be the magic for the Mariners to get them over the line.”

For the first time in seven years, Finals Series football returns to Gosford.

It comes off the back of an incredible Mariners run which helped players and coaches alike shock the league, putting on individual and team performances to savour.

Oli Bozanic made his A-League return this season, taking the armband for Alen Stajcic’s side and quickly asserting himself as one of the best players of the current campaign.

35-year-old Matt Simon finished the regular season as the club’s top scorer (10 goals), teenage sensation Alou Kuol won the affection of the Mariners faithful and neutral observers with his scintillating early season form, and Stajcic earned rightful praise for his magnificent display as the leader of it all, guiding a team with three-consecutive wooden spoons back to the post-season.

READ: “It’s happening again” – Aloisi feels Finals Series buzz returning to Gosford
MORE: Confidence, belief, leadership, unity – Stajcic asks finals-bound Mariners to let best qualities shine

Central Coast Mariners

The Gosford side have concocted a mixture of feel-good stories which nurtured a ‘magic’ feeling at the club which Garb believes will spur the third-place finishers along in search of a Semi Finals berth.

“Saturday night, though, It feels like we’ve got the main event, because it’s going to be such a party as we mentioned earlier on the Central Coast,” Garb said.

“I feel strongly that that energy might just be the magic for the Mariners to get them over the line.

“I think they’ve just got so much belief. Macarthur (were) pulled apart by Wellington on the weekend, perhaps they had one eye on the finals because they looked pretty comfortable in that regard.

“I just feel as if the confidence base that Central Coast have built over the course of the season, and then the big crowd that’s expected there, just might be enough for them to get over the line and get through to a Semi Final against what would be Sydney FC if they can make it.”

“(They’re) Full of confidence going forward with purpose,” Cornthwaite added.

“The excitement, that crowd is going to get behind them.

“Can you imagine Matt Simon in the first five or ten minutes, when he’s pressing?

“I wouldn’t want the ball if I was at the back, to be honest, because he will be flying in.

“Maybe not flying into tackles but coming at full tilt, so you are not going to have any time on the ball.”

LISTEN: ABC Grandstand Football Poscast: Teams of the season, with Warren Moon

Simon looms as a key figure for the Mariners against Macarthur

Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United – Sunday, June 13 

“I just think Adelaide might have the edge in that regard, with Goodwin and Juric in a big game…”

The biggest games offer the opportunity to the biggest players to make their mark – and Garb sees a pair of Reds stars capable of ripping their Elimination Final bout with Brisbane apart when the two sides meet at Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Brisbane are the home side thanks to a fourth-placed finish, ending the campaign on 40 points – just one above the Reds in fifth.

In defence, the Roar have shone. Goalkeeper Jamie Young and the likes of Scott Neville, Macaulay Gillesphey, Corey Brown, Kai Trewin, Josh Brindell-South and captain Tom Aldred – who has missed a chunk of the season through injury – combined in defence to concede the second-least amount of goals (28) of any team throughout the season.

But in Craig Goodwin and the fit-again Tomi Juric, Carl Veart’s Adelaide side may just have attacking weapons built for the big moments capable of causing the stringent Roar problems. 

Garb believes Brisbane’s lack of a genuine attacking star with big-game experience could cause problems for the Elimination Final favourites as the Reds look to use their attacking qualities to win out in the one-off contest.

“I find this final really intriguing,” Garb said.

“I think Adelaide are a big (shout) to spoil the party. I just feel as if they’ll be able to set themselves defensively and maybe frustrate a Brisbane attack who will have energy, and will be inspired by the crowd, but don’t have that big finals goalscorer.

I think if Adelaide can keep them at bay, they’ve got that potential in Craig Goodwin and now Tomi Juric, who is now starting to look really sharp.

I just think Adelaide might have the edge in that regard, with Goodwin and Juric in a big game at the other end of the park if they can keep things tight defensively.

READ: A-League 2021 Finals Series Launched

Can the Reds pick the lock of Brisbane's defence in the Elimination Finals?

“That I think will be the challenge for Warren Moon and Brisbane this week. Such an even game on paper though, isn’t it?”

“It certainly is,” Cornthwaite replied.

“In finals, form sort of goes out the window.

“You look purely at the matchup… Brisbane are the most in-form side in the last 10 games of the teams that finished third, fourth fifth and sixth- and they only won four of their last ten. They lost their last two games of the season as well, but you kind of forget about that when it comes to finals.

Tomi Juric is going to be massively important for Adelaide – he missed a few weeks, he came on at half-time ( against Western Sydney Wanderers in Matchweek 24) and you’re right Garby, he looked sharp, he looked fresh and he looked energetic. He was closing down really well.

“He’s going to be a handful for that Brisbane defence that has been so good all season.”

“It is going to be a really interesting one,” Cornthwaite added.

“A first final for both managers… will that come into it? Will they be more shy to make their substitutions? Will they be a little bit more conservative? We know in these finals, they are quite often age and as you mentioned, Brisbane Roar don’t have that Matt Derbyshire that can just pop up with the odd goal.

“Really, really interesting battle. If I was to tip a team, i would still tip Brisbane – just because it’s away and Adelaide have struggled a little bit on the road this season. 

“But I think this is going to be a toss of a coin.”

Match details and ticketing information – Finals Series

Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC
Saturday, June 12 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Match Centre

Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United
Sunday, June 13 2021
Moreton Daily Stadium
Kick-off: 3.05pm AEST
Match Centre

Melbourne City v Lowest Ranked Elimination Final Winner
Friday, June 18 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Match Centre
Tickets: TBC

Sydney FC v Highest Ranked Elimination Final Winner
Saturday, June 19 2021
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Match Centre

GRAND FINAL: Winner SF 1 v Winner SF2
Saturday, June 26 2021
Venue/kick-off/tickets: TBC

Note: Fixtures are subject to change. Please check for latest updates