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Central Coast Mariners
Australian A-League
May 25, 2024 at 10.55am UK
Central Coast Stadium
Melbourne Victory

Central Coast
3 - 1

Edmondson (90+1', 120+1'), Di Pizio (97')
Farrell (83')
Geria (50')
Traore (21'), Arzani (70'), Da Silva (107')

Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne Victory - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Australian A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The winner of the 19th A-League title will be decided in New South Wales on Saturday, as Central Coast Mariners welcome Melbourne Victory to the Industree Group Stadium in the Grand Final.

The hosts head into the contest as the defending champions and having already been crowned as the division's premiers after topping the table and advancing to the finals series, while their opponents had to fight through two rounds of qualifying to reach this stage.

Match preview

Central Coast Mariners head into Saturday's A-League Grand Final on home turf aiming to defend their title, having ended a 10-year wait to prevail in Australia's top flight for the second time last year.

The Yellow and Navy have laid a strong claim to keep the trophy in New South Wales this term, being crowned the premiers for the first time since 2012 as they topped the table in the regular season, earning 55 points from their 27 outings.

After a mixed first half to the term, that finish was thanks to an eye-catching final run, as they won nine of their last 10 league outings to take top spot, ending in five straight triumphs after a lone defeat to Sydney FC, having fended off second-placed Wellington Phoenix with a 2-0 final-day victory over Adelaide United thanks to goals from Jacob Farrell and Max Balard either side of the interval.

That finish saw Mark Jackson's side skip the elimination finals and move straight to the final series, with a two-legged tie against Sydney FC standing between them and another Grand Final, and they would prevail once again, coming from behind to triumph 2-1 in the away leg with Joshua Nisbet and Mikael Doka netting the crucial goals before they defended the narrow aggregate lead by seeing out a goalless stalemate on home turf.

Now heading into another Grand Final and a first with home advantage, having not tasted defeat since late March and managed six victories and a draw since, Central Coast Mariners will set out to become just the third team to successfully defend the A-League title in its current format and complete a domestic double at the weekend.

Their visitors, meanwhile, make the long trip at the weekend aiming to regain the trophy they last won in 2018 and move level with Sydney FC at the top of the charts on five A-League titles.

With three games of the regular season left to play, Melbourne Victory found themselves on the edge of the race for top-two spots and the premier crown, sitting on 41 points from 24 matches, five behind Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix, but a pair of defeats and a draw to end the campaign saw them confined to a third-placed finish and an elimination-finals tie before the finals series as a result.

They would meet rivals Melbourne City in a one-legged affair at AAMI Park in early May with a semi-final spot on the line, and Tony Popovic's men came out on top in a tight contest, eventually triumphing in a penalty shootout after the 90 minutes and extra time ended level at a goal apiece thanks to Nishan Velupillay's 88th-minute equaliser.

That set up a semi-final tie with Wellington Phoenix, and after playing out a goalless draw in the away leg, they would eventually prevail in extra time, despite being held to a 1-1 draw inside 90 minutes by an Oskar Zawada leveller following Adama Traore's opener, as Chris Ikonomidis netted the decisive goal to fire his side to the Grand Final.

Having already fought through two knockout ties to reach this stage, Melbourne Victory now travel to Gosford aiming to regain the A-League title for the first time since 2018 on Saturday.

Central Coast Mariners Australian A-League form:

Melbourne Victory Australian A-League form:

Team News

Central Coast Mariners should field an unchanged starting XI on Saturday from both legs of their triumphant semi-final tie against Sydney FC, with Noah Smith remaining sidelined by an injury and Angel Torres remaining suspended due to off-field investigations.

Torres and January departure Marco Tulio still lead their scoring charts, and Josh Nisbet and Alou Kuol are bound to continue their partnership up front in a 4-4-2 shape, while Mikael Doka is a danger man on the right wing having contributed three goals and seven assists in 28 league games so far this term.

Elsewhere, Max Balard and Brad Tapp are mainstays in the engine room, while Daniel Hall and Brian Kaltak will continue their centre-back pairing in front of veteran stopper Danny Vukovic, who leads the division for clean sheets with 12 this term.

Like their hosts, Melbourne have little reason to make many alterations from the second leg of their semi-final tie, with only one change made from the goalless draw in the first leg as Daniel Arzani took Salim Khelifi's place on the wing.

Bruno Fornaroli has been their star man going forward this term, netting 18 goals in 24 A-League appearances thus far, and he will again lead the line with support from Nishan Velupillay, Roly Bonevacia and either Arzani or Khelifi.

Elsewhere, Jordi Valadon should again get the nod alongside Ryan Teague at the base of the midfield, while Jason Geria, Damien Da Silva, Roderick and Adama Traore will line up in an untouched back four.

Central Coast Mariners possible starting lineup:
Vukovic; Roux, Hall, Kaltak, Farrell; Doka, Balard, Tapp, Theoharous; Nisbet, Kuol

Melbourne Victory possible starting lineup:
Izzo; Geria, Da Silva, Roderick, Traore; Teague, Valadon; Velupillay, Bonevacia, Arzani; Fornaroli

SM words green background

We say: Central Coast Mariners 2-1 Melbourne Victory

Central Coast Mariners have been in formidable form in recent months to reach this stage, and in a bid to retain the A-League title on home turf, we back them to come out on top in what promises to be a tight final in New South Wales.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Group A

Q Germany Germany22006
2 Switzerland Switzerland21104
3 Scotland flag Scotland20111
4 Hungary Hungary20020

Group B

Q Spain Spain22006
2 Italy Italy21013
3 Albania national flag Albania20111
4 Croatia Croatia20111

Group C

1 England flag England21104
2 Denmark Denmark20202
3 Slovenia Slovenia20202
4 Serbia Serbia20111

Group D

1 Netherlands Netherlands21104
2 France France21104
3 Austria Austria21013
4 Poland Poland20020

Group E

1 Romania Romania21013
2 Belgium Belgium21013
3 Slovakia Slovakia21013
4 Ukraine Ukraine21013

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal22006
2 Turkey Turkey21013
3 Czech Republic Czech Republic20111
4 Georgia Georgia20111

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