See, I’m better at organising my times this week.
Nearly a third of the way through the A-League season, and I haven’t had a single post late yet! (Not sure how the school holidays will affect that, but it’s better to assume I can keep it up.)
Game of the Round – Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
The Wanderers’ season has been pretty disappointing. The men in the red and black hoops (one of the best kits in the A-League, in my opinion) finished one point off the top in the logjam at the top last year, but have just the one win from the seven games so far.
Brisbane Roar, meanwhile, were the first team to get a point off the unbeaten Sydney FC (the deserving title favourites), and will be looking to continue their form. However, their low goalscoring rate (the equal second-lowest) may play against them.
Mini-Article – AFC World Cup Qualifying Chances
Australia’s last match for 2016 was against a still-greiving Thailand after the death of their king, and we turned out a woeful display. ช้างศึก1 scored two goals, one more than they had managed in their previous four games, and Australia’s two goals were both Mile Jedinak penalties. We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being third in the group, despite being undefeated.2
I’ve run a rule over all of the teams in the AFC third round, to have a look at how they’re going.
In Group A, Iran sits on top, having not conceded a goal in their five matches, but aren’t scoring very much. They should go through. South Korea and Uzbekistan follow closely behind, and will probably be fighting for the second automatic spot. Syria can defend, but can’t score, Qatar really isn’t looking like future World Cup hosts, and China PR needs to start showing money for their investment.
In Group B, four countries are going for the two and a quarter3 spots from the group. Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates are the top teams in this group by a fair distance. Iraq is off the pace, and Thailand is way off the pace. But all of the other teams have a comfortable chance.
Chart VIII – Defending Champions
Adelaide are the defending champions, but you wouldn’t know it based on how they’ve been playing this season. They are the only team that’s yet to get a win, and at the moment sit four points out of reach at the bottom of the table.
Is this the worst for any A-League champion after the first seven rounds?
As it turns out, yes it is.
Adelaide is just the second reigning champion in the history of the competition to be winless after seven games. Their only companions are Sydney FC, who ended up finishing ninth in 2010-11.
Last week I got two out of four, taking me to 14/34. In other words, that’s 41.18%, which would be pretty woeful were this the AFL, but could be considered alright if it’s soccer.
1The War Elephants, for those of you unable to read Thai.
2It may interest you to know what the RSSSF has on the matter. In the 1967 Argentinian Campeonato National, Estudiantes LP went 15 games without losing, and still finished second, two points behind Independiente. However, that’s not the longest. DSO Spartak lost the Bulgarian league by a point in 1951, in a 22-game season; Zamalek Sporting Club was undefeated over 26 games in the 1980-81 season for Egypt; Mangasport also had a 26-game undefeated streak in Gabon in 2009-10; Diables Noirs went undefeated in the 2012 season over 29 games, but lost the Congo league due to the playoff system; SL Benfica (Portugal) and Hearts of Oak (Ghana) both had 30 game seasons; Crverna zvezda Beograd had 33 games in Serbia in 2007-08; but the best I found was the mighty Galatasary, who went undefeated through all 36 games of the 1985-86 Turkish league, and still finished second to Besiktas on goal difference.
Honourable mention goes to Al-Ahli Tripoli, who finished fifth despite going undefeated in the 1987 Libyan season.
If you want to have a look around yourself, and probably waste at least half an hour, like I did, go to the undefeated section here.
3The third placed team in this group plays the third placed team in the other group, giving them roughly half a chance of going through. They then play a foreign confederation’s hope for a World Cup spot, halfing that half. That’s where the quarter comes from.
EDIT- I goofed up and linked the Turkish record to the Serbian one.