In the hunt: where your team stands in the race to the Finals Series
There's less than two weeks to go until the 2020/21 A-League regular season comes to a close, with 10 of 12 sides remaining in the hunt to play Finals Series football.
It's a tense battle for ascendancy on a congested A-League table which is set to run until the final whistle blows in the last game of Matchweek 24 on June 6. Melbourne City clinched the Premiers Plate on Saturday, April 22, and are the only side confirmed to play Finals Series football as it stands.
Which side will be the next to sew up their spot in the top six, and which of the remaining nine teams will be the first to bow out of Finals Series contention? Read on to find out as a-league.com.au outlines the prospects of each Finals Series contender heading into an unmissable fortnight of A-League football.
Current position: 2nd (41 points)
Sydney FC's place in the top six is all-but secured heading into their final two games of the 2020/21 season. Seventh-placed Perth Glory remain the only side capable of bumping the Sky Blues out of the top six in what would be a remarkable swing of fortunes for the two sides.
If Perth win all three of their remaining fixtures and the Sky Blues lose twice to Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, the Glory would draw level on 41 points with Steve Corica's side. Perth's inferior goal difference of +1 to Sydney's +11 would mean an enormous swing would need to occur for the Sky Blues to bundle out of the top six.
Securing just one point from their two remaining fixtures would confirm a top six finish for the Sky Blues.
Current position: 3rd (38 points)
The Reds meet two top-six contenders in their final two games of the season as Carl Veart looks to secure Finals Series football in his first full season as an A-League head coach.
Adelaide face Sydney FC next up, and could draw level on 41 points with the Sky Blues with a win at Coopers Stadium on Saturday, May 29 to set up a tight finish to the campaign, as the Sky Blues meet Brisbane and Adelaide face the Wanderers in their respective Matchweek 24 fixtures.
Perth (seventh), Wellington Phoenix (eighth) and the Wanderers (ninth) all remain within nine points of the Reds with three games to play, meaning Finals Series football is not yet confirmed in Adelaide. But Veart's team can seal their spot before the end of the season with a win over Sydney in Matchweek 23.
Central Coast Mariners
Current position: 4th (36 points)
The Mariners still have some work to do before writing another chapter in their brilliant 2020/21 story by booking a spot in the Finals Series campaign after three consecutive bottom-placed finishes.
The Mariners lost 1-0 to Melbourne City last time out, leaving Alen Stajcic's side in touching distance of four sides outside of the top six. Perth are the closest in seventh, after closing the gap to just four points with a 1-1 draw against Macarthur FC on Sunday, May 23.
The Mariners face the Bulls in their next A-League fixture before games against Newcastle Jets and Western United to round out the campaign. Two wins from three games would take Stajcic's Mariners to 42 points, out of the reach of Glory's maximum tally of 41.
Current position: 5th (36 points)
Level on points with the Mariners are Macarthur FC, who could slide into sixth spot if Brisbane Roar win their game in hand against Melbourne City on Tuesday night.
A three-point showing from the Roar at AAMI Park against the Premiers would send the Bulls into the last Finals Series spot heading into Matchweek 23, where a crunch clash with the Mariners awaits.
Like the Gosford side, Macarthur will need two wins from three games against Central Coast, Western United and Wellington Phoenix to clinch a spot in the top six in the club's inaugural A-League campaign.
Current position: 6th (34 points)
There's a whole lot of upside to a Brisbane Roar outfit with at least one game in hand on the rest of competition heading into the pointy end of the regular season.
Brisbane are the only A-League team with four games left to play. Four wins would take Warren Moon's team to 46 points, which could be enough to see them finish second should results go their way.
On the flip side, the three teams below (Perth, Wellington, Western Sydney) all sit within three points of the sixth-placed side, with 10th-placed Western United lurking two wins behind the Roar with three games to play.
They're team with the most to lose and most to gain in the final stages of the season, and a run of results either good or bad will dramatically alter Brisbane's position on the table by the end of the campaign.
Current position: 7th (32 points)
Perth's four-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday, May 23, meaning the West Australian side embarks on an uphill climb into the final two Matchweeks.
Positioned two points behind Brisbane, four behind both Macarthur and the Mariners, six behind the Reds and nine behind the Sky Blues, stealing a place in the top six is still a potential prospect for the seventh-placed side with three games to play - all of which are away from home.
Current position: 8th (31 points)
Sparked by a huge win in the club's first game on home soil in 433 days against Western United in Matchweek 22, the Phoenix are firing up for a last-gasp assault on the top six.
Upcoming games against the Wanderers and Perth could see the eight-placed side jump the queue waiting at the doorstep of the top six to nick a spot by the end of the season.
The Phoenix face Macarthur FC in their last game of the season - a side sitting five points ahead in fifth place on the table. Getting to within three points of the Bulls by then would put Ufuk Talay's side in a great position to jump the A-League newcomers who have an inferior goal difference at the present time.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Current position: 9th (31 points)
Tasting Sydney Derby defeat in Matchweek 22 put a dent in the Wanderers' hopes of securing a place in the top six - but with three games to play Carl Robinson will still believe his side are in with a fighting chance.
Fixtures against the 'Nix, Brisbane and Adelaide are to come for the Red and Black. A clean sweep in those three games would take the Wanderers up to 40 points, but those points wouldn't come easy against three sides in the top-six conversation.
Current position: 10th (28 points)
Western United were all-but removed from the Finals Series conversation after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Wellington last time out - but with three games to play the tenth-placed side still have the capacity to jump to 37 points by the end of the campaign - one more point than both the Mariners and Bulls currently possess in fourth and fifth place on the A-League table.
The Green and Black would need to earn the maximum of nine points from their last three games to stand a chance of sneaking past any of the three sides currently within touching distance in the top six. Games against Melbourne Victory, Macarthur and the Mariners are to come for Mark Rudan's team as they take one final lunge towards an unlikely top-six finish.
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