A-League 2020/21 Betting Preview and Predictions
The 2020/21 season of A-League kicks off on Monday, December 28, a couple of months later than all previous seasons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand and Australia. The 2021 season will also feature 12 clubs for the first time in history with Macarthur FC finally making debut after a two-year-long wait.
As we look into what might be the most crucial season in A-League history, it’s only fair to ask can Sydney FC can become the first team in history to win three consecutive Grand Finals? But most importantly, which team can spoil their plans and how will Macarthur FC fare in their debut year in the Australian premiere soccer league.
We will try to answer some of those questions with our 2020/21 A-League preview, where we dive deep into each teams’ strengths and weaknesses and predict how their run through the season will end.
Last year: Champions
Top signing: Adam Pavlesic
Coach: Steve Corica
As the back-to-back A-League champions, Sydney FC enter the 2020/21 season as the odds-on favourites to do it again. Their road to glory might not be as easy as in previous seasons with the departure of Adam le Fondre to Mumbai City FC, meaning the Sky Blues will have to rely on Trent Buhagiar and Kosta Barbarouses to do all the heavy lifting.
Buhagiar managed three goals and two assists last season, miles from le Fondre’s 20 goals and two assists, but that hardly indicates the 22-year-old can’t step in le Fonder’s shoes. Buhagiar had a phenomenal performance in Sydney’s ACL campaign, where he scored five goals in only six appearances and if that is any indication, there is no doubt Buhagiar can shine.
Sydney FC have the tools to win another Grand Final, but with Melbourne City breathing down their necks, there is a world where Sydney get their plans spoiled. Regardless, the Sky Blues should shine in the regular season are a good bet to win the Minor Championship once again.
Prediction: Sydney FC to win Minor Championship – 2.60 at Bet365
Last year: /
Top signing: Mark Milligan, Beñat Etxebarria
Coach: Ante Milicic
Macarthur FC enter the 2020/21 A-League season without high expectations put on their shoulders, which is an enviable position many teams would like to be in. The only job Macarthur FC have is to get accustomed to life in A-League and while a strong finish would definitely make their fans happy it’s not like anyone expects Macarthur FC to shine.
This is a good spot to be in for the newcomers, who don’t need to worry about being criticised for losing games and there is something to be said about the advantages this brings. For some veteran players including captain Mark Milligan, being a part of a new team also adds a bit more motivation to perform so it’s not entirely unlikely Macarthur FC might find themselves on the same path as Western United last season.
Outside of that, Macarthur FC field a very capable roster, headlined by former Athletic Bilbao stars Markel Susaeta and Benat Etxebarria. While it’s difficult to say with certainty where Macarthur FC will end the season, they (at least on paper) seem to field one of the best rosters in the league.
With this roster, it’s not entirely unlikely for Macarthur FC to shock the world and win the league in their debut year, which is why it should not come off as a surprise we are backing the newcomers to finish inside the top six.
Prediction: Macarthur FC to finish inside the top six – 2.75 at Bet365
Last year: 8th
Top signing: Ramy Najjarin (loan)
Coach: Craig Deans (interim)
I short, we don’t expect much from Newcastle Jets this season. Although they finished last season strong and jumped to eighth place, Jets seem like the main contender – besides Mariners – to finish the season in the last place.
In their defence, Jets field a couple of solid players, who helped them beat the likes of Wellington, Western united, City and Sydney last season, but it remains to be seen whether they can keep their momentum going and capitalise on it. There are, however, more negatives in the team than positives.
The team’s best players reportedly want out, while the team’s boss Martin Lee is getting his licence removed due to his neglect of the team which amassed a $4 million debt. What’s more, outside of a couple of above-average players, Jets’ team is mediocre at most, and did we forget to mention Jets don’t have a coach (yet)?
Newcastle Jets are priced at 6.00 to finish last, which is very generous considering they don’t have a coach and struggle with lack of motivation. The only team that can beat them to a bottom-of-the-table finish are Mariners, but if we put these two teams side-by-side, Mariners come off as a far more stable team.
Prediction: Newcastle Jets bottom finish – 6.00 at Bet365
Last year: 11th
Top signing: Rudy Gestede, Callum McManaman
Coach: Grant Brebner
On the back of a disastrous domestic campaign, which they finished in 10th place, Melbourne Victory managed a very impressive run through the ACL and advanced to the Round of 16 before losing against Ulsan Hyundai. Regardless, Victory managed to win two out of six group stage matches which is nothing to sneeze at.
If Victory’s performance at the ACL is any indication, they should be set for a solid run through A-League. The biggest concern we have, however, is how will Victory fare without Lawrence Thomas, who has scored 23 goals in 38 appearances for the team last season.
As his replacement, Victory have acquired Rudy Gestede, who will be expected to fill in the Swede’s shoes and replicate the same numbers. If Gestede can’t achieve that feat, then it’s very difficult to be overly excited about Victory this season.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Last year: 9th
Top signing: Graham Dorrans
Coach: Carl Robinson
This might be the most stable Western Sydney Wanderers have ever been and with Carl Robinson as their new head coach, the young squad should do well, or at least better to how they did last season. It’s hard not to be excited about Wanderers and their young talent in Mohamed Adam, Tate Russell, Tass Mourdoukoutas and Mohamed Al-Taay, but at the same time, we don’t expect any outstanding results at least until their young stars develop.
It remains to be seen how far can Wanderers go, but hopefully, we will see some progress as well as an increase in their fans support, which has waned a bit in recent years. Regardless, with a new coach and a lot of growth potential, we will keep an eye on Wanderers,
Last year: 2nd; finals
Top signing: Andrew Nabbout
Coach: Patrick Kisnorbo
Melbourne City enter the 2020/21 season with one of the deadliest attacking duos in the league – Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout. Maclaren took home the Golden Boot last campaign with 22 goals, while Nabbout managed eight goals and three assists.
A lot will come down to the performances of Nabbout and Maclaren, but it’s not like the whole identity of the team relies on their attacking duo. City had a phenomenal run through the last season and even made it to the Grand Finals, which they ended up losing 0-1, after a somewhat controversial referee call, which arguably cost City their maiden title.
The way we see it, if Sydney don’t win the Grand Finals, City are the main favourites to do so. Still, we are not ready to back them to go all the way just yet.
Western United FC
Last year: 5th; semi-finals
Top signing: Ayom Majok
Coach: Mark Rudan
Western United’s success this year will come down to Alessandro Diamanti and Besart Berisha, who are arguably two of the best players in the league. At 37-years-of-age, Diamanti managed eight goals and seven assists for United to which he added 66 shot assists.
His teammate Berisha did not disappoint either with 19 goals and 23 shot assists to his name last campaign. Although there are definitely other solid players on the roster, it is fair to say the duo will carry most of the burden in the 2020/21 season given the lack of changes United have made in the offseason.
Unlike most other teams, United have opted to keep their squad mostly intact, which begs the question whether this is a good or a bad decision. As we see it, United might reach the postseason, but without any major upgrades, they will struggle to go much further.
Last year: 6th; semi-finals
Top signing: Andy Keogh
Coach: Richard Garcia
Unlike Western United, Perth Glory have made a couple of changes to their squad, namely the departure of Kristian Popovic, the signing of Andy Keogh and promoting Richard Garcia from coaching Glory’s youth squad to the main roster. Still, we don’t believe Perth have done enough to contest the title.
Diego Castro is already 38 years old and will struggle to do all the heavy lifting, whereas we wouldn’t count on Bruno Fornaroli to have a massive impact either. Andy Keogh’s return to Perth could bolster their attack, but as it stands now, Chris Ikonomidis is the only player on the team we can count on to deliver.
Many questions are surrounding Perth heading into the next season, namely, how will Garcia fare as head coach. Perth should still make it into the playoffs, but like it’s the case with Western United FC, they might struggle to go much further.
Last year: 3rd; elimination-finals
Top signing: Tomer Hemed
Coach: Ufuk Talay
Wellington Phoenix had a phenomenal run through the 2020 season when they stormed into the third place on the A-League ladder. They were eventually knocked out of the finals by Perth, but that does not take away from their success, which raised the bar of what to expect from Nix this season.
Phoenix kept most of their squad form last season intact, so if they managed a third-place finish in their last campaign, why can’t they do it again? The motivation surely is there and so is the talent, but it’s difficult to say how will Phoenix cope without Steven Taylor who left for Odisha.
Without Taylor, the Nix’s defence likely won’t be as sturdy as it was last season, which is definitely a concern. They might still do fine without Taylor, but some changes will be needed to compensate for his absence.
Last year: 7th
Top signing: Javi López
Coach: Carl Veart
Adelaide United managed to get their hands on Javi López from Espanyol, and it seems like United have finally found a player to replace Isaías Sánchez after his departure in 2019. Still, we not too convinced with Adelaide.
If Riley McGree cand develop quickly enough and blossom into one of the best players in the league, Adelaide should do just fine and with the help of López’s creative ability, he just might reach his potential next season. If everything goes as planned for Adelaide and McGree, Adelaide will be a tough team to beat – if not, Adelaide might be in for another disappointing season.
Last year: 4th; elimination-finals
Top signing: Masato Kudo
Coach: Warren Moon
It’s hard not to be excited about the team Brisbane Roar have put together, featuring the right mix of young talent and experienced veterans. What’s more, Roar have moved away from Suncorp to Dolphin Stadium, which is definitely a positive move, since Dolphin Stadium is not only a better-looking venue, but it’s also much closer to the fans which should, in turn, create a much more hostile atmosphere for opposing sides.
Outside of that, we don’t see Roar as a serious threat for the title. They have something going for them, but everything seems more like a long-term project than something that would help them win the league in 2021.
Central Coast Mariners
Last year: 11th
Top signing: Matt Simon
Coach: Alen Stajcic
Central Coast Mariners have earned themselves the tag of A-League’s bottom feeders and it seems like that won’t change in 2021 either. Not only are they consistently losing their best players to other teams, Mariners are supposedly also struggling with their finances.
Without any star players, Mariners seem bound to finish the season inside the bottom three, which is quite saddening to say since they have the fight and determination to prove their worth. Mariners should still do fine against some weaker sides, they simply lack the quality and experience to compete with A-League’s top dogs.
This concludes our short 2020/2021 A-League season preview. For more A-League tips, check our premium section, where you can also find picks and tips for other Soccer leagues, Horse Racing, NBA, esports and more.