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You can just feel it… this season is going to be big! | A-League Round 1 Preview

Macquarie Sports Radio

The Hyundai A-League returns tonight, kicking off what is a crucial season for the competition. After a tumultuous few years of poor viewer numbers and low attendance records, there is a brewing sense of optimism that this season will be a turning point.

A new club in Western United, a new fortress in Bankwest Stadium, a new independent governing body on the way and maybe even a new understanding between authorities and supporters.

There aren’t really any big name international players to talk about and that has many people very excited because that means we’re going to see the best of what Australian football has to offer.

Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the A-League’s 15th season is going to be an important one, and may very well be a historic one. So strap in for Round 1.

 

Adelaide United vs Sydney FC  |  Coopers Stadium  | Fri 7:30pm

The Defending Champions begin their title defence away to Adelaide. The Sky Blues made waves in the off-season stealing two big stars from their two biggest rivals. Alexander Baumjohann (Wanderers) and Kosta Barbarouses (Victory) were brought in as replacements for Alex Brosque and Josh Brillante but Sydney FC’s pre-season has been slightly disappointing.

They come up against an Adelaide side who they haven’t lost to in their last nine A-league matches. But the reds enter a new era under new enigmatic boss Gertjan Verbeek who is a colourful character sure to make headlines. Adelaide have gone undefeated in their official pre-season fixtures but none of those were against A-League opposition who finished in the top six last season.

Live commentary of this game on Macquarie Sports Radio from 7pm.

Western Sydney Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners  | Bankwest Stadium  | Sat 5pm

They’re back home and they’re ready to reestablish themselves as title contenders. The Wanderers have seen themselves slip from Asian Champions to finishing outside the top half of the table the last three years. It’s no coincidence though that those three years are the exact time they’ve been without a home ground. Now they’re back in Parramatta so you can expect that to change.

The Mariners are another side who have had major struggles in recent times but their fans have reason for cautious optimism as well. With a full pre-season under his belt, Alen Stajcic will no doubt have his side ticking over nicely. Staj has built a good balance of experience and youthful excitement in the squad. Fans on the Central Coast are simply hoping to be a part of finals football again and a win in front of a roaring Bankwest Stadium would certainly give them hope of that being made a reality.

Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City FC  | Marvel Stadium  |  Sat 7:30pm

This is the blockbuster clash for Round 1 and anticipation has been building in Melbourne for weeks. Both teams have new coaches and exciting new players, all of whom will want to steal the psychological edge for the remainder of the season’s derbies. 

Marco Kurz (Victory) is without new forward Robbie Kruse for this one but Andrew Nabbout will be raring to go, eager to link up with new skipper Ola Toivonen and develop a strong partnership early. City’s front men Jamie Maclaren and Craig Noone have already been on fire during the club’s run to the FFA Cup final although Maclaren wont feature in the derby with his form earning him a Socceroos call-up.

It’s fair to expect this game will have plenty of goals considering Victory have scored 15 goals in their four official pre-season matches and City have scored 20 goals in their six.

Live commentary of this game on Macquarie Sports Radio from 7pm.

Wellington Phoenix vs Western United  | Westpac Stadium  | Sun 4pm

It will be an historic night in Wellington as the Phoenix host newcomers Western United for their inaugural A-League match. And in case that wasn’t reason enough to watch, Western United’s coach Mark Rudan returns to face the side he guided to the finals only last year before leaving halfway through his contract and taking three star players with him.

It will be a frosty reception for Andrew Durante, Max Burgess and goalkeeper Filip Kurto on their return to Kiwi shores but Rudan will ensure their focus is set solely on United’s first ever A-League game being a win.

It’s set to be an interesting match against a Wellington side who are somewhat of an unknown quantity. New boss Ufuk Talay has replaced the departed players with a combination of promising youth and experienced international stars. The stage is set for either side to make an early statement.

Perth Glory vs Brisbane Roar FC  | HBF Park  | Sun 6pm

It’s an A-League managerial legend versus a manager with his first full-time gig in professional football anywhere. Last season, Tony Popovic transformed Perth Glory into a side a cut above the rest and the fact they fell so agonisingly short at the final hurdle should strike fear into the rest of the league. Even scarier is an attacking trio of Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis and Bruno Fornaroli. This team has goals in them, a lot of goals.

They’re up against a Brisbane Roar side that is genuinely impossible to know what to expect from. Robbie Fowler makes his managerial debut with a squad that has no less than 16 players from last year move on and be replaced. One of those replacements is striker Roy O’Donovan who is a proven A-League goalscorer for the Mariners and Jets. He’ll be out to show up the much talked-about front three on the other side.

Macquarie Sports Radio
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