The Roar’s A-League Men’s tips and predictions: Round 2

If anyone was wondering why Network Ten’s lead commentator Simon Hill is held in such high regard, his leap to the top of the pops after just one week of A-League Men’s competition may well explain why.

As predicted, it was a tough tipping week and Round 2 2 looks no easier, with a Sydney Derby on the cards, Melbourne Victory looking to confirm their return to contention and crucial early season matches for the Wanderers, Jets, Wellington and Western United.

Saturday night’s fixture featuring Adelaide United and Melbourne City looks the pick of the bunch in my view and there should be goals aplenty in it.

Good luck with your tips for the round and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the spirited voice of the crowd. Here is the way the panel sees all the action unfolding over the course of the weekend.

Mike Tuckerman
Draw, Draw, Adelaide, Sydney, Draw, Western Sydney

After a typically disastrous start to the tipping season, I can’t imagine I’ll bring any real insight into Round 2. Western United conceded a sloppy winner from a set piece in their 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory, in a game in which they didn’t exactly create much going forward.

Perth Glory were unlucky not to down Adelaide United in their 1-1 draw, but how will they fare on the road this season? Glory deserve to go into this game as favourites, but I’m going to sit on the fence and tip a draw.

Wellington Phoenix showed real grit in their 1-1 draw with Macarthur in the wet last weekend and they may face similar conditions when they host the Central Coast Mariners at WIN Stadium. The Kiwi side relied on a penalty from Gary Hooper to get on the scoresheet and he looks the most likely route to goal alongside fellow English attacker David Ball.

The Mariners were outstanding in their 2-1 win over the Jets in Newcastle. They’ll need to back it up on the south coast, but I suspect this will finish level.

Things were going swimmingly for Melbourne City for all of 70 minutes in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar, but then someone flicked the switch and the defending champions were fortunate to come away with a win. They’ve got plenty of strength and depth, but they looked a little ring-rusty last weekend.

Adelaide took the game to Perth Glory in their 1-1 opening round draw and they have a more than decent record at Coopers Stadium. This one should be a fiery affair and I’m backing the Reds in an upset.

I originally tipped a draw in the Sydney Derby last weekend and changed my tip at the last second. So, in the age-old tradition of doubling down on a bad decision, I’ll back the Sky Blues at home again here. They looked like they missed Bobo up front against the Wanderers, but they’re back on familiar stomping ground in Kogarah and should have the firepower to trouble the Bulls.

Bobo of Sydney FC

Bobo celebrates a goal (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

It seemed to take Ante Milicic’s side an age to get going in the wet in Newcastle and while they’ll put up a fight, I’m backing a home win.

It’s only one game in and Melbourne Victory already look a well-drilled unit under Tony Popovic, but they needed a set piece goal to finish with all three points against Western United. Victory look the goods in defence, but have they got the creativity required to unlock opposition defences?

Brisbane Roar were left to rue a frustrating five-minute spell in which they conceded twice against Melbourne City. They’ll be much sharper for this clash and should have the firepower to snatch at least a point on Sunday afternoon.

The final game of the round sees Western Sydney Wanderers back at CommBank Stadium. They were on the back foot for long stretches in the Sydney derby, but Jack Rodwell showed in his brief cameo that he’s got more than enough talent to make a difference.

Newcastle lost out in a genuine slugfest in their 2-1 F3 derby defeat to the Mariners. The Jets have dominated this fixture in recent seasons, but this is one game Carl Robinson will no doubt be desperate to win. Surely this is a home banker?

Simon Hill
Draw, Draw, City, Sydney, Victory, Western Sydney

John Aloisi’s reign got off to a losing start against Victory, but I think they’ll pick up a point against a Glory team who could easily have won – or lost – their game against Adelaide.

This is the first in a series of games on the road for Perth and while I liked the look of Antonee Burke-Gilroy in particular, I can’t see Western losing back to back games at home, particularly as Brandon O’Neill will be absent to be in Western Australia for the birth of his child.

Wellington began the usual process of smearing egg across the faces of pundits everywhere by grabbing a point against Macarthur. They will see this game against the Mariners as winnable, but I think they might have to settle for a point.

Ufuk Talay is one of the smartest coaches in the comp and despite all the off-season departures, he again has his side well organised and hard to beat.

Wellington Phoenix manager Ufuk Talay

Can Ufuk Talay’s Nix defeat the Central Coast Mariners at ‘home’ in Wollongong? (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Mariners were good for long spells in the F3 derby but did well to hang on against a late Jets onslaught. Four points out of six would represent a very good start for Nick Montgomery.

If City are to be the frontrunners everyone expects them to be, this is one of those games where they need to show it. They were in total control for an hour against Brisbane, but then fell into a bit of a hole in the last 30 minutes.

This will be the acid test, because Adelaide away can be one of the most hostile places to go when the Hindmarsh stands are packed. The Reds did well in Perth, but I just have a feeling City’s extra bit of quality will get them over the line – especially with Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout having had that extra week to shake off the effects of their international involvement.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Macarthur currently. How are the players feeling about the situation with their home stadium? At least they will be back in Sydney this week, but I think that’s where their good news will end. Sydney were solid in the derby and could have Barbarouses and Bobo back in contention. Home win.

Tony Popovic is working his magic already at Victory – a clean sheet for the first time in 19 matches was enough for three points in Geelong. I think that new coach bounce will continue against Roar, even though Brisbane impressed in the final 30 minutes against City. A full house at AAMI Park and Victory firing on all cylinders? It has been a while since we saw that.

Tony Popovic

Tony Popovic made the perfect start with a 1-0 win over Western United in Round 1 (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Wanderers showed enough in their derby draw with Sydney to suggest a better campaign is on the cards. The back to basics approach of a solid defence is absolutely what they needed, and Rhys Williams in particular was outstanding. Newcastle finished well but ultimately came up second best against the Mariners.

I think Arthur Papas’s team have potential, but it’s going to take a while to come together. A Wanderers win.

Stuart Thomas
Western United, Central Coast, City, Sydney, Victory, Western Sydney

I felt John Aloisi’s side were good enough for a point against the Victory in the opening week of the season. Connor Pain was close to creating a goal for the home side and it took a lovely header to eventually send the three points Victory’s way. Barring Bruno Fornaroli’s brilliant goal, Perth struggled somewhat and United should open their account in this one.

We all learned our lessons last season, picking against the Mariners early before finally admitting they were one of the best teams in the league. Wellington look far from that and needed a penalty to get on the scoresheet last week. I can’t go past the Mariners in this one.

Melbourne City could well turn up and belt the Reds, so sharp did they look near the end of the first half last weekend. However, they lost concentration and were fortunate to hang onto the points against Brisbane. Adelaide look like once again being a competitive side and should City relax as they did in Round 1, the home team could strike and shock the champions. This is the game of the round.

(Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Sydney FC will need to be better than they were against the Wanderers last week if they are to get past a Macarthur side that will be up for the contest and no doubt getter betting with each and every week that passes. Ulises Dávila holds the key for the Bulls, but Sydney’s home support might be enough to get them over the line in this one.

Are Victory back in the race? They looked pretty darn good against Western last week, got the points and will test the Roar’s attack in this fixture. Popovic loves being solid and in shape at the back and that is exactly what Brisbane must be able to combat should they have hopes of getting the points against what looks a confident team. Victory to start the season with a perfect six points.

Western Sydney will also need to be better than the rather disjointed performance they produced at CommBank Stadium last week against Sydney. Back at home, they will be better and the Jets will sneak down the freeway looking for a smash and grab effort, after looking really good at times against the Mariners in their opening game of the season.

Frankly, this looks a banana skin fixture for the Wanderers, yet the home field advantage might just get them across the line.

Texi Smith
Western United, Wellington, City, Sydney, Brisbane, Draw

United will be stewing over their loss to Victory last Saturday and two defeats from two home games would signal a disastrous start to the season for John Aloisi’s men. The visiting Perth Glory found themselves outplayed for parts of their opening game against Adelaide and only the introduction of Daniel Stynes gave them a spark as they limped to a draw.

Daniel Sturridge will again be ineffectual but will get more time, Bruno Fornaroli will be their biggest threat, but Perth will suffer from travel sickness again and Alessandro Diamanti will conjure up a piece of magic to liven up proceedings before a late penalty settles it at 2-0.

Phoenix gave a good account of themselves up against the Bulls in treacherous conditions on Sunday and will have surprised many. The Mariners were excellent against Newcastle, too, so this one will be tough to call.

The visitors will be coasting at halftime, a goal up and looking in control, but Wellington will be straight back into it after halftime and a topsy-turvy second period will see Wellington prevail 3-2 with a last-gasp winner from David Ball after Marco Urena spurns a golden opportunity from the penalty spot.

I remember tipping against Adelaide so often at the start of last season. I just felt that the playing roster was thin on the ground and that their youthful squad would cave under pressure. How wrong I was, and that’s playing on my mind as I look at this fixture.

In Kusini Yengi, they have a Tammy Abraham-style tall striker, very calm and capable of terrorising defences. With Craig Goodwin and Stefan Mauk, they have more than their fair share of attacking quality.

Stefan Mauk of Adelaide United scores a goal

(Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

But this is City we’re talking about here. Andrew Nabbout had an absolute off-day in front of goal last week and he wasn’t the only one. If it all clicks and the menace from the benches is unleashed in good time, we could be in for a goals bonanza. I’m tipping City, and by a handsome score line.

It’s not often that the Sky Blues aren’t the biggest attraction in Sydney on a weekend, but with the Matildas in town, this game is second on the bill. The signs were there last week in Parramatta; Max Burgess making a fine cameo appearance off the bench and Elvis Kamsoba causing problems with his speed. Sydney just need to be a little more direct and there could be a big serving of goals at Kogarah in this intriguing match-up.

The visitors didn’t show all they were capable of in the monsoon that was last Sunday and we expect a Mexican cheer squad for Dávila, a player who is primed for the big games. However, it looks like a 2-1 win for the home side.

The Melbourne day trips continue for Brisbane Roar, back for more at AAMI Park where they were unlucky not to get something against City last week. Victory poached a win at Western United thanks to their strapping Portuguese star Roderick Miranda, but remained largely impotent otherwise.

The head says that Victory have too much about them this season, but the heart is swayed by the positive football played by Roar last weekend in the face of a more well-oiled opponent than this.

The weather conditions in NSW will provide a slick playing surface for Carl Robinson’s men to wow their fans with some expansive football against the Jets. The home team were lacking invention last week against their local rivals, but Newcastle are ripe for the picking here.

Despite all the efforts of the home side, urged on by a vocal crowd, the visitors will hold firm and go close to taking all three points. In the end, Newcastle will escape back up the tunnel with a well-earned first point of the season.

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