|By JAMES WILLOUGHBY
The 2012-13 A-League season kicks off with a bang this weekend and there is plenty to interest punters.
The high-profile signings of Alessandro Del Piero [Sydney FC], Emile Heskey [Newcastle Jets] and Shinji Ono [Western Sydney Wanderers] have excited fans of the competition and the Melbourne derby – to be staged on Friday at Etihad Stadium – is the perfect fixture to start the campaign.
Melbourne Victory may have won just one of their six matches against the Melbourne Heart but, at $2.18 with Betfair, they look the bet of the weekend.
New Victory boss Ange Postecoglou – winner of the last two A-League titles with Brisbane Roar – has made some smart signings and is sure to improve the club's fortunes after a disappointing season last term, when they finished eighth and missed the finals.
Expect new acquisitions Marcos Flores, Guilherme Finkler, Jonathan Bru and Adama Troare all to feature in Postecoglou's starting XI and they are likely to make life difficult for their opponents.
New Heart boss John Aloisi has seen his side score plenty of goals in friendlies this pre-season, but in matches against A-League opposition they have drawn one and lost two, scoring just one goal and conceding eight in the process.
A 5-0 defeat to Perth Glory was particularly concerning and, after defenders Curtis Good [Newcastle United] and Brendan Hamill [Seongnam Ilhwa] made big-money moves in the off-season, they may be lacking depth at the back.
Sportingbet have Victory at $1.90 to win while they are $1.92 [TAB Sportsbet] and $2.05 [at both Luxbet and Sportsbet], indicating that the value is with Betfair.
We would not be surprised if the Victory win well and that is why taking the $10.50 on any unquoted scoreline at Betfair seems a good option if you are chasing some value.
All scorelines up to 3-3 are covered but, if Postecoglou's side click, scoring four goals is not out of the question, particularly at huge odds.
If that seems a little adventurous, but you think goals will be scored, over 3.5 goals is at $3.40 on Betfair while over 4.5 is at $6.80.
|Melbourne Victory to win v Melbourne Heart at $2.18 at Betfair
||Over 3.5 goals in Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart at $3.40 at Betfair|
The Western Sydney Wanderers play their first ever A-League match on Saturday against the Central Coast Mariners at Parramatta Stadium.
It is great to have the Wanderers in the competition and they will improve as the season goes on, but the Mariners – starting as favourites – can add good value to the Victory if you want to pair them together in a two-leg multi-bet.
Elsewhere, despite the fact Del Piero is likely to make his debut for Sydney FC in Wellington, the Phoenix will enter the fixture as slight favourites.
Wellington have lost just eight of their last 51 home fixtures in the A-League and have beaten Sydney in five of their last six clashes at home, meaning it might be wise to give this one a wide berth even if you like the Sky Blues.
The grand final replay between Perth and Brisbane at Patersons Stadium should be a terrific match.
In front of a big crowd and determined for revenge after their heartbreaking defeat in April, Perth are definitely worth a look at Betfair, particularly given the form they have displayed in pre-season.
*Note prices subject to change