Finals football is a different beast

One of the positives to come out of the final round was that Adelaide United didn’t finish in second spot...

One of the positives to come out of the final round was that Adelaide United didn-t finish in second spot. Not because I don-t want them to do well, but because it means we are lucky enough to get an extra game to see what Josep Gombau can do for us.

All that will have to wait though, with the first elimination final kicking off on Friday night between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.

Sydney FC hasn-t exactly been setting the league on fire, but they are here at the business end of the season and that is what counts.

Frank Farina said after the performance against Perth Glory in the final round that all previous form counts for nothing as the pressure is on everyone. He is right, but Sydney will be away from home and rank outsiders.

Alessandro Del Piero is their go-to man. He scores, sets them up and keeps them ticking. Sasa Ognenovski is a great leader, and he will fire the boys up from the back, but who will rise at the pointy end of the field to help Del Piero dismantle an experienced defence in front of a noisy Victory crowd?

Antonis scored a cracker and will be full of confidence. It is the perfect stage for a young player like Terry to put his hand up and really establish himself as one of the stars of the future.

Victory, coming off the back of a stunning mid-week win in the ACL will be so full on confidence it will be coming out of their eyeballs! You won-t find any players complaining of fatigue - players relish the opportunity to play games. Most of them will say ‘the more the better-….that is of course unless you are on the wrong side of 30!

When the ball moves into the final third, the one-two passing that goes on between Thompson, Finkler (even though they were not part of the mid-week game) and Barbarouses is brilliant to watch.

James Troisi, the fourth amigo is the final ingredient that makes this quartet so spectacular. He has scored a bag full of goals this season, netting again in their ACL game and has been provider on many occasions as well. If Troisi gets going, he can go a long way to ensuring Victory claim another Sydney FC scalp.

The second elimination fixture of the weekend sees the Mariners host Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon.

Like Victory, the Mariners will be coming off the back of an important ACL fixture. Confidence will no doubt be high, traveling to Brisbane in the final round to give the Roar a reminder that this competition is far from over.

It hasn-t exactly been raining goals in Gosford, but Bernie Ibini has the potential to unlock any defence given the opportunity and he will be hoping to get his chance against Adelaide.

He is the club-s top goal scorer this season, despite only starting a handful of games this year. Throw in the free kicks of Eddy Bosnar anywhere in their attacking half and skipper Eugene Galekovic and his trusted deputies in front of him will have their work cut out for them.

Adelaide is one of the form teams at the moment. Even though they are coming off the back of a loss in the final round, Gombau has these guys playing a brand of football that no one would have thought possible in the early parts of the season.

Marcelo Carrusca has been outstanding for Adelaide this season. He controls tempo, has great vision to unlock even the tightest defences. He can score goals as well. He is a player that is vital to the Reds.

Should Carrusca take the field on Saturday and fire like he has many times this season, Adelaide will do the job in Gosford and go on to play for a coveted place in the grand finale.

Frank Farina is right. Finals football is a different beast. Form may not count for much, but confidence certainly does.

Victory is not just looking like but is playing like contenders. At a packed Etihad stadium, I can-t see them been beaten even with the brilliance of Del Piero. While up the road at Gosford an Adelaide outfit that has outscored all others in the regular season will be looking to keep knocking them in and stopping the Mariners in their tracks.

Follow Travis on Twitter @trav_dodd Follow the Finals Series using the hashtag #ALeagueFinals