Sydney FC claimed the title last season despite finishing 8pts behind a Perth Glory side that held the top spot from game week four all the way through to the end of the campaign. The pair then progressed through the Elimination-finals and the Semi-finals to battle it out in the Grand Final where, after a goalless draw, the match was settled on penalties with Sydney claiming a 4-1 win.
The 2019/20 A-League season is almost upon us and with it arrives a new franchise in the form of Western United. The Melbourne based club have signed 36-year old former West Ham and Italy international Alessandro Diamanti from Livorno as well as Greek midfielder Panagiotis Kone from Udinese and are predicted to finish in the bottom half.
The top three teams from last season are being tipped again to battle it out for the Minor Premiership and Grand Final in 2020, while Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners, who both finished in the bottom three last time around, are the joint-favourites to finish in last place in the 2019/20 season.
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Minor Premiership Prediction: Perth Glory
Despite dominating the Minor Premiership last season and making it all the way through to the Grand Final where they even had the home advantage, Perth Glory fell at the final hurdle last season but are still being tipped to go all the way this time around.
Tony Popovic’s side occupied first place in the A-League table from game week four all the way to the end of the regular season and were the odds on favourites to go all the way and win the Grand Final. However, that wasn’t to be and the club have since parted ways with Brendon Santalab, Jacob Italiano, Jason Davidson, Andy Keogh, and Shane Lowry, but have replaced those players with Bruno Fornaroli, Kim Soo-beom, Osama Malik, Gregory Wutrich, and Hames Meredith.
Jason Davidson was a key player for Perth Glory last season and will be missed but last seasons pace-setters will be hoping that new signing Kim Soo-beom can fill that particular void, while Popovic will no doubt be aiming to maintain his sides ‘machine-like’ performances of last season which saw Perth Glory control the Minor Premiership, with the hope of going one better this time around and winning the Grand Final.
Perth Glory won 18 of their 27 Minor Premiership games last season, only losing on three occasions, and finished the campaign with a goalless difference of +33 and are our pick to finish top in 2019/20.
Grand Final Prediction: Melbourne Victory
Melbourne Victory were thrashed 6-1 in the Semi-final by the eventual winners Sydney FC last season and have replaced manager Kevin Muscat with German Marco Kurz. The former Adelaide coach has managed to keep star striker Ola Toivonen at the club and has added a host of new foreign talent that will have the Victory fans excited for the new campaign.
Robbie Kruse, Andrew Nabbout, Tim Hoogland, Jakob Poulsen, Migjen Basha, Kristijan Dobras, and Adama Traore have all been brought into the club, with Kruse, Traore, and Nabbout all returning to the club for a second time. James Troisi, Kosta Barbarouses, Keisuke Honda, Carl Valeri, and Terry Antonis have all departed the club and former Japan international Honda is likely to be the biggest miss, both in terms of the goals he created and scored last season as well as the commercial element attached to his name.
Kurz has a lot to prove and the pressure will be on the German manager but his signings look clever and if he can get his team to gel and perform as expected then Melbourne Victory are certainly going to challenge for the title this season. Victory finished third last time out, just 2pts behind Sydney FC, thanks to a very consistent spell during the middle third of the campaign.
Perth Glory and Sydney FC look set to be Melbourne Victory’s main rivals for the Grand Final title once again in 2019/20 but each of those teams have lost some key players and we’re expecting a much closer battle in the Minor Premiership this time around. Melbourne Victory won the A-League title three times before, most recently in 2014/15, and under new management and with their exciting new additions to the playing staff we’re backing them to go all the way in 2020.
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To Finish Bottom: Wellington Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix finished sixth last season and qualified for the Finals series where they were defeated 3-1 by Melbourne Victory and to many they may come as a surprise pick to finish bottom of the table in 2020. However, talented coach Mark Rudan has left the club to take control of the A-League’s latest franchise Western United, with three key Wellington Phoenix players, Flilip Kurto, Andrew Durante, and Max Burgess all following suit. Roy Krishna has moved to India and Sarpreet Singh has made a dream move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and the New Zealand club look set to struggle due to so many outgoings in key areas of the pitch.
Reno Piscopo, Matti Steinmann, David Ball, Ulises Davila, and Luke DeVere have all come into the club, with high hopes being pinned on the Mexican former Chelsea midfielder Davila. However, the outgoings simply outweigh the incomings and this, along with the loss of manager Rudan, provide the reasoning behind our prediction for Wellington Phoenix to finish bottom of the table this season.
Central Coast Mariners have finished bottom of the pile in three of the last four seasons and are many peoples’ picks to claim last place again in 2020, but new coach Alen Stajcic is bound to bring fresh impetus to the club and players such as Kim Eun-sun and Ziggy Gordon are expected to help tighten up a leaky defence and add more structure to the side. Central Coast Mariners are bound to be there or thereabouts when it comes to the bottom three but we believe they will improve on last season’s performance and finish at least one place above eleventh.