Adelaide United captain Eugene Galekovic hasn’t known an A-League season like it – nor has anyone else.
In the ninth A-League season, all games in the last round will shape the finals.
Only league leaders Brisbane are assured of maintaining their position – the rest of the finals contenders are in a last-gasp jostle for top-six positions.
“I haven’t known a season like this before,” Galekovic told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
“It’s so close. From second to sixth, even seventh can still make it.
“I think it’s great for the supporters and great for the A-League that it’s so close that it comes down to the last round.”
Western Sydney hold second spot on goal difference from third-placed Central Coast – both clubs have 39 points.
Galekovic’s Adelaide are fourth on goal difference from Melbourne Victory – both clubs have 38 points.
And the last finals berth on offer, sixth place, won’t be decided until the last game of the minor rounds when Sydney FC host Perth Glory on Sunday.
Frank Farina’s Sky Blues hold sixth position with 36 points, three points ahead of Newcastle Jets, and will play finals with a win or draw against Perth.
Adelaide will be first to stake their finals claim, playing Friday night against the Jets in Newcastle.
“Depending on what happens in the other games, we can be in second position and play next season in the Asian Champions League, or we can be in sixth position and just play the finals,” Adelaide coach Josep Gombau told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
“The most important thing is that we concentrate on our game. After that, we will see what happens.”
Melbourne Victory’s finals fate will be determined by their away fixture against Wellington Phoenix on Saturday afternoon – like Adelaide, they can finish as high as second or as low as sixth.
Western Sydney can secure second spot with a win against in their away game against Melbourne Heart on Saturday twilight.
By the time Central Coast take the field in Brisbane against the Roar on Saturday night, the Mariners will know if second spot is still possible.
Then comes Sunday, with Sydney’s campaign decided by their tussle against Perth.
And while the three days will be captivating, they will also reopen the old debate: should all final minor round games be played at the same time?
Adelaide’s Spanish boss Gombau thinks so, but accepts it’s unlikely.
“It needs to be everyone in the same moment – it’s easier for everybody,” Gombau said.
“But it doesn’t matter. This is what the federation makes, and television also. And we need to accept it.”
THE STATE OF THE A-LEAGUE
BRISBANE ROAR (first, 52 points): Top spot assured.
WESTERN SYDNEY (second, 39 points, +4 goal difference): Secure second by defeating Melbourne Heart. Lose, could slip to sixth.
CENTRAL COAST (third, 39 points, -5 goal difference): Beat Brisbane and second is possible. Lose, could finish sixth.
ADELAIDE UNITED (fourth, 38 points, +11 goal difference) Could finish second by downing Newcastle. A loss could mean sixth.
MELBOURNE VICTORY (fifth, 38 points, -4 goal difference): Chance for second with a win against Wellington. May slide to sixth with a loss.
SYDNEY FC (sixth, 36 points, +1 goal difference): Win or draw with Perth Glory and they’re in the finals. Lose, could be tipped out if Newcastle.
NEWCASTLE JETS (seventh, 33 points, -2 goal difference): Pinch sixth by beating Adelaide by three or more goals than Sydney score – provided the Sky Blues lose.
THE LAST ROUND:
Newcastle v Adelaide
Wellington v Melbourne Victory (afternoon)
Melbourne Heart v Western Sydney (twilight)
Brisbane v Central Coast (night)
Sydney FC v Perth
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