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Tony Hargraves

Lay Melbourne Victory for 2 units @ $2.90 or lower

Melbourne Victory have not won any of their last five in 90 minutes, losing twice and drawing three times.



Best Bet



Saturday 7.45pm

The Central Coast Mariners are looking for an unprecedented treble when they take on Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final for 2024. They are also looking for back to back titles. They finished top of the table to clinch the Premiers Plate, and just days later travelled to Oman and took on Al Ahed in the final of the AFC Cup.

After winning last season, head coach Nick Montgomery left, along with several star players including Jason Cummings, Samuel Silvera, Nectar Triantis, Beni N’Kololo and James McGarry. Marco Tulio stayed on, but he then left the club just months into the new campaign.

They beat the other Melbourne side – City 6-1 in last year’s Grand Final and this season went on a 23 game run that included just two losses that took them past Wellington to the Premier’s Plate.

Looking at Melbourne Victory, coach Tony Popovic has been to four A-League Grand Finals as a head coach, and on each occasion, he’s lost. To win his first, he will need to do it away from home on the Central Coast. He was at Western Sydney Wanderers and lost in 2013 (Mariners), 2014 (Brisbane Roar in extra time), and 2016 (Adelaide United).

He then went to Turkey and after that was back at Perth Glory. He took his new-look Glory to the Premiership and a home Grand Final in his first season there. His squad, laden with Socceroos talent hosted Sydney FC, but in front of more than 60,000 fans at Optus Stadium, lost via a penalty shootout after a goalless 120 minutes.

He did win one final though, the Australia Cup with Melbourne Victory in his first season there in 2021. They beat the Mariners, so that gives this some extra edge.

It’s been an incredible run from the home side to get here. After just four games, Central Coast Mariners’ record read: played four, scored two, conceded nine, zero wins, zero draws, four losses. No team in the league had ever bounced back from four consecutive defeats through the first four rounds and gone on to win a trophy – until the Mariners did exactly that this season with their Premiership Plate.

Let’s look at the game itself. Melbourne Victory midfielder Zinédine Machach is free to play after serving a two-game ban for a red card collected in the win over Melbourne City in the Elimination Finals. He has been one of Victory’s best performers this season, scoring seven goals and adding five assists. He is a huge inclusion and will be fresh.

One of the key matchups will be Bruno Fornaroli taking on defensive star Brian Kalyan. The Mariners defender has been a key to the huge run of clean sheets racked up by the Mariners and the Victory striker hasn’t scored in six games now.

Looking at the Head to Head recent scores of 1-0, 1-1, 2-2, 0-2, 2-1, 1-1, 0-1, 1-2 shows just how tight this could be. The Mariners have kept 13 clean sheets this season and despite 59% of their games going Over 2.5 goals, just 45% of games saw both teams scoring. In contrast, Melbourne Victory games see Over 2.5 goals just 43% of the time, and if the league table was based on Over 2.5 goals, then Victory would be bottom of the table.

This game will likely be won or lost in the second half as Mariners games see 39% of goals in the first half and 61% in the second half. It’s 42% and 58% for Victory.

Almost every stat for this game is below the league average. Over 2.5 goals is 51% against the average of 62%. Over 1.5  is 78% (825(, both teams to score is 56% (62%) and they have an average of 2.71 goals compared to the average of 3.29 for the league.

So this will be a cagey affair.

The Mariners are unbeaten at home in five games and they have not lost in seven. They have kept three clean sheets in the past five games, conceding just two goals.

Pair that with an out of form Victory striker and I am going for a home win. The Victory have won just one of their past six games and against an on fire Mariners side, it may end up yet another Grand Final loss for Tony Popovic.

Betting Strategy

Back Central Coast Mariners for 2 units @ $2.30

The Mariners are unbeaten at home in five games and they have not lost in seven

Back Under 2.5 goals for 1 unit @ $1.95

The Mariners have kept three clean sheets in the past five games, conceding just two goals.

A-League 2024

The A League is Australia’s premier Men’s football competition, running since 2005. In recent seasons the competition has expanded to 12 teams with Western United winning the premiership last season in just their third year in the competition.

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The first edition of the A League competition, which is run by the FFA, was played in the 2005-06 summer. Seven of the original teams remain in the competition: Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners and Perth Glory. In the years since they’ve been joined by Melbourne City (formerly Melbourne Heart), Western United, Wellington Phoenix, Macarthur FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Eight different teams have won the competition in the 17 year history, with Sydney FC claiming the most titles with five, ahead of Melbourne Victory with four and the Brisbane Roar who won the competition three times in four seasons from 2011-2014. Several of the competition’s biggest names recently took part in Australia’s bold 2022 World Cup campaign.

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