THE A-League grand final awaits the winner of Friday night’s semi-final clash between Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City.
Hosts Newcastle have enjoyed a serious resurgence this season and secured a week off and a home final despite a late season slump.
While City finished third and earned their way into the second week of the finals via a 2-0 home victory over Brisbane Roar last week.
The stats for this match up don’t make particularly enjoyable reading for those in the Jets’ corner.
(50 points, 2nd)
(43 points, 3rd)
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(64 points, 1st)
(41 points, 4th)
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City are undefeated in their last four games against the Jets, and have won on four of their last five trips to McDonald Jones Stadium – outscoring the hosts 15-5 in that time.
However, the Jets have won their three most recent finals clashes on home turf, and will be hoping to extend that record and give Player of the Year Dimitri Petratos something to celebrate on his 150th A-League appearance.
Further they’re boosted heavily by the prospect of a big home crowd which could challenge City’s historic dominance.
Here is your Ultimate Guide to A-League Semi-final 1 for 2017-18…
WHEN AND WHERE IS IT?
Newcastle (2nd) earned their home final and will now host City (3rd) after the visitors beat Brisbane Roar in the first week of the finals – the match will be played at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:50pm AEST on Friday April 27.
HOW CAN YOU WATCH IT?
Watch the match on Fox Sports 501 from 7:50pm AEST, and enjoy the pre-game build up from 7pm.
Newcastle Jets predicted XI: Duncan, Georgievski, Topor-Stanley, Kantarovski, Koutroumbis, Ugarkovic, McGree, Hoffman, Petratos, Champness, O’Donovan
Injury Concerns: The Jets remain without Nigel Boogaard, Wayne Brown and Ronaldo Vargas.
Melbourne City predicted XI: Bouzanis, Jamieson, Malik, Schenkeveld, Atkinson, Brattan, Arzani, Mauk, Bozanic, Vidosic, Fornaroli
Injury Concerns: Captain Michael Jakobsen is in doubt with a quad complaint.
Head to Head:
Played 24 – Jets 9 wins, City 11 wins
Past 5 meetings:
1/04/18: Jets 0-3 City
25/1/18: City 2-2 Jets
2/12/17: Jets 1-2 City
18/3/17: City 4-0 Jets
27/1/17: Jets 2-1 City
WHAT THEY SAID
Jets striker Roy O’Donovan: “It gets the butterflies going, you want to win the game and nobody wants to go out in the semi-final.
“You really have to put in a performance because you want to be there in the showpiece game at the end of the season.
“I think we deserve that but the only way we can show we deserve is by putting in a real good performance on Friday night.
“If we play the way we have played this year and to our strengths, I don’t have any fear.”
City defender Osama Malik: “It’s more exciting to be honest. The more noise there is, you don’t really take in individual insults.
“Where you might [hear the insults] if there’s fewer people. It will be nice to play in front of a big crowd.
“We’ve beaten them [Jets] twice over there which is always a tough place to go,” Malik added.
“It’s going to be a different game this week, it’s make-or-break and there will be a big crowd there so it’s going to be a big game.”
WHY JETS WILL WIN
Home ground advantage.
Yes City have a superior record at McDonald Jones Stadium but this finals clash won’t be anything like other matches held at the ground.
Jets chief Lawrie McKinna has spruiked the game tirelessly and a massive crowd is expected to turn up to cheer on their Jets. Add in the attacking quality of the side who scored eight in their last match and they’ll be a tough team to beat.
O’Donovan is a handful, Riley McGree is in form and Steven Ugarkovic has been one of the most improved A-League players of this campaign.
WHY CITY WILL WIN
Attacking and midfield quality.
Luke Brattan has been immense in the heart of midfield for City this season, while the likes of Daniel Arzani, Bruno Fornaroli and an in-form Dario Vidosic will prove a difficult proposition for the home side’s back four.
Stefan Mauk was quality against the Roar, and it’s hard to see such a talented front three being held at bay for a full 90 minutes.