After a 27-round season, much of which was spent knowing Sydney FC would finish top of the table, we finally reach the A-League finals series with two elimination finals to be decided this weekend.
The format of the competition sees the winner of these two matches play Sydney and Melbourne Victory, respectively, next week for the right to play in the Grand Final.
Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City have been fighting for third spot on the table for much of the year, and in the end it was the Roar who won that battle after coming from 3-1 down to defeat Wellington 4-3 in a cracking match last Sunday.
That result sees Brisbane host the Western Sydney Wanderers in the first elimination final on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium. The Roar finished six points clear of the Wanderers on the table, but their head-to-head clashes this season have been close with two 1-1 draws before the Roar won the most recent game 2-1 in January.
The Roar go into the match as $2.10 betting favourites to win inside the 90 minutes, according to AustralianGambling.com.au, having not lost to the Wanderers at this ground in over two years. The draw is priced at $3.50, while a Wanderers win is $3.20.
Should Tony Popovic's side cause an upset, it would be a significant achievement for a team who won just two of their first 15 games. Last year's beaten grand finalists have found form at the right time of the year and are unbeaten in their past six games.
The second final pits two familiar foes at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Sunday night. Melbourne City and Perth Glory met in the final round of the season at nib Stadium last weekend and the result was one of the most bizarre games in the A-League's 12-year history; it ended 5-4 in Perth's favour.
The bookmakers are expecting a much different match this time, and City—with a wealth of experience in their side—are listed as $1.90 favourites to win this one inside the 90 minutes.
The Glory, who have fared well against City this season with a win and a draw in their two clashes in Melbourne, look over the odds at $3.60 when you consider they possess the class of Diego Castro, who is a match-winner. The draw is $3.75.
City striker Tim Cahill has made a career out of scoring in big matches, be they World Cups, Merseyside derbies, Melbourne derbies or more recently the FFA Cup final. He scored twice last week and is $6 to be the first goalscorer in this match.