It's incredibly even! The second half of the W-League starts this week with the top three teams decided by one point and the remaining playoff spot decided by just two points.
The back half of the season might be even better than the first, with all of the games this week being even contests.
Our resident football expert Kristin Shaffer goes through every game blow-by-blow in the most comprehensive W-League weekly preview anywhere, including the key matchups and predictions of each score!
Follow her on Twitter at @k_shaffe.
Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne City FC
Fourth place vs second place to open up round 8 play. This could very well be a playoff matchup depending on how the rest of the season goes so fans will want to pay attention to this one.
Arguably the best game of the week, both teams have a lot to prove. City is vying for the top spot in the league against Western Sydney and Brisbane is trying to stay in the playoff hunt.
Brisbane is coming off their worst offensive performance of the season and they are lucky to walk away with three points against the one-win Newcastle Jets. With all of the chances they had, the game should have easily been 5-1. Give credit to Newcastle’s goalkeeper, Claire Coehlo for putting on a shot stopping clinic, but there were plenty of times Brisbane had poor finishes.
Melbourne City is coming off of a bye just after they beat winless Perth Glory 1-0. City is looking like anything but their usual dominant self, but they are still finding ways to win which at the end of the day is the one stat that matters.
Lydia Williams vs Hayley Raso
Last week Hayley Raso and company put up 34 shots, but only scored two goals. Raso led all players with eight shots, but had nothing to show for it on the score sheet.
This week could be as equally challenging to find goals since the Roar are facing City who are tied for the least amount of goals conceded at three. Not to mention Lydia Williams is tied for the second most clean sheets with three.
Melbourne City is averaging just over a goal a game so the Roar are going to have to figure out a way to find the back of the net.
Raso is going to have to be more productive in front of goal or at least set up her teammates for a chance. The performance she had two rounds ago, where she scored a brace, is more of what Brisbane needs this week.
If Raso, Brisbane’s leading goal scorer, is stopped by Williams all game, look for the Roar to walk away empty handed.
2-1 Melbourne City
The Roar’s shaky performance in front of goal last week is a concern going up against the best defence in the league.
Then add on a week’s rest for City, this seems to be City’s game to lose. Expect Melbourne City to find more offensive chances and look like a top team in this game. City can also regain first place with a win or a tie since Western Sydney has a bye this week.
Adelaide United vs Perth Glory
The battle for last place. Neither team has won a game this season and only Perth has a tie to their name. If anything this game is a confidence booster for the possible winner. But this could also very well end in a tie which would at least give Adelaide a point and some hope for their season.
Both teams have conceded 11 goals and only scored four. Neither team has really been blown out of a match, they stay in the games till the end, they just cannot find a way to seal the deal for a victory. This will be a very close game.
Amber Brooks vs Kat Jukic
If Adelaide is going to get their first point of the season then they are going to need all the belief in themselves they can get and that belief starts with their captain Amber Brooks. Known for her bruising tackles and overall presence on defence she is going to have to command the back line this game. On paper that sounds pretty easy against a Perth Glory team who has only scored four goals all season.
But just like Adelaide believing they can get their first point Perth also believes they can get their first win. But in order for Perth to do that they have to score goals. Forward, Kat Jukic, has started all six games and played the most of any forward listed on the roster. Yet she has no goals to show for it. If Jukic can ignite Perth’s offence they could string a few together and walk away with their first win.
Adelaide has been knocking on the door of getting a point from a game. Five of their six losses have been decided by a single goal. This is the game that will give Adelaide life and spark them to finally be the team who finishes one goal ahead. 1-0 is still a close game and Perth will put up a good fight and make Adelaide earn this win.
Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets
Sixth place vs seventh place. Two teams finding themselves on the outside looking in for the postseason. Melbourne Victory is ahead of Newcastle by four points, and the Victory are only behind fourth place Brisbane by two points. The middle of the league is very tight and has four teams eyeing that elusive fourth place finish.
There were high hopes for Victory, the defending regular season champions, but they have yet to play a game that has critics agree they are a top four team. Just last week they beat Perth by 2-1, thanks in large part to a penalty save, by their keeper, Casey Dumont. Victory need to get going in a hurry to put themselves in a good position down the stretch.
Not much was expected of Newcastle this season, and they have performed decently well. They are making opposing teams earn every point. Often times watching a game you think Newcastle is going to have the upset, but they just miss out. Newcastle played anything but good last week, besides Claire Coelho who had 15 saves and only gave up two goals. The Jets cannot expect Coehlo to have that gutsy of a performance every week, they need to pick it up to earn results.
Haley Hanson vs Clare Wheeler
The midfield is where teams win and lose games. The midfield sets the tone for the rest of the team. For Melbourne Victory that player is Haley Hanson and the Jets rely on Clare Wheeler.
Hanson has played every minute for the Victory so far this season making her the heartbeatof the squad. She is able to convert over 73% of her passes making her a huge asset for possession. Melbourne Victory has to control the midfield if they want to win this game. They have to be able to feed the forwards and assist the defenders. This is not a game where Hanson and company can take a night off. Hanson has to dominate 50/50 balls and have more than her usual 38 passes per game.
The player who will look to disrupt Hanson is Wheeler, a midfielder for the Jets. Last game was a total disaster for the Jets midfielders who spend most of the match acting as defenders. Newcastle only had possession 36% in that game, allowing Brisbane to completely control the tempo. Wheeler will have to assert herself in the midfield and ensure the Jets possess the ball closer to 50%.
3-1 Melbourne Victory
Melbourne Victory has been searching for a statement game and last week against Perth really looked like their chance to do it, but Perth hung with them. The Victory have to be disappointed with their play and honestly past the feeling of disappointment at this point. The Victory need a big win and they have the tools to do so against a weaker Jets side.
Canberra United vs Sydney FC
Fifth place vs third place should finish out the round quite nicely with a close game. Both teams were a part of the two most lopsided games a week ago, but coming out on different sides.
Sydney defeated Adelaide 2-0 last week bringing their win total up to five. Whereas, Canberra got demolished 4-0 against the best team in the league, Western Sydney. Canberra’s loss knocked them out of the top four and they will be looking to have a different result against a different Sydney opponent this week.
Sydney have been impressive this season and perhaps none more so than the leading W-League scorer, Remy Siemsen who has six goals. But Canberra has a top goal scorer not too far behind with Simone Charley who has four goals. But aside from those two no one has more than two goals on either team. Don’t expect this game to have too many goals and especially not too many goals by one player.
Aubrey Bledsoe vs Simone Charley
If you are going to this game live you might want to position yourself on Sydney’s defensive side for both halves. You will be able to watch Charley, one of the top goalscorers, but also the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in Aubrey Bledsoe for Sydney, who has four.
Which means all but one of Sydneey’s victories has been a shutout. This matchup does not need much more to say, one of the best vs one of the best usually does all of the talking for you.
This one is most likely not going to be a shutout for Sydney, but Bledsoe will stop plenty of shots for them. Sydney will get back to their win streak since losing in round 6 and Canberra will start their own streak, but with losses.