Round 1 of the 2020 AFL season has been given the all clear by the boss and boy are we pumped for it. Footy kicks off on Thursday night with the Tigers taking on the Blues in front of an empty crowd at the MCG. We’ve previewed the season opener below and provided our best bets. Good luck to everyone following us this season!
The 2020 season kicks off with another Tigers vs Blues fixture that will feel a bit different this year. Instead of the 80k+ crowd that usually attend, these clubs will play in an empty stadium, which will take a bit to get used to. Quarters have also been shortened from 20 minutes (+ time on) to 16 minutes (+ time on), which may force coaches to tweak a couple of things in their game plan.
The Tigers were the deserving premiers in 2019 and come into this season with a much healthier list that looks pretty much the same to their best 22 from last season. The Tigers have only made two changes to the 22 that ran out on Grand Final day, which means they should be poised to come out of the blocks firing. Marlion Pickett now has an AFL pre-season under his belt and could add another string to the Richmond bow, while Dusty Martin has had a booze-free off-season, which should have all opposition teams a little nervous.
The Blues will be hoping to start this season with some of the form that they finished 2019 with where they looked a very competitive side under David Teague. They’ll bring back the same core of young guys that will hope for natural improvement to their game, led by skipper Patty Cripps. Eddie Betts has returned home after a great couple of years in Adelaide, although an injury he recently sustained in training will keep him out for at least a month.
We don’t usually see the reigning premiers come out of the blocks firing in Round 1, but the Tigers are such an experienced and professional club and we expect them to deal with these bizarre circumstances a little bit better than the young Blues. The Tigers outclass the Blues all over the field and although these matches will be 20% shorter in playing time, we still expect the reigning premiers to win this by a comfortable margin.
The first of two goal scorer markets we’ll look at involves Richmond full forward Tom Lynch. Lynch made the move across from Goal Coast after the 2018 season to join the Tigers and it wasn’t all smooth sailing. He suffered multiple setbacks in the pre-season that meant he was far from 100% fitness when the first ball was bounced in Round 1. Lynch only managed to kick 3+ goals five times in his first 13 games with the Tigers, however, in his last nine games of the season he managed 3+ goals on seven occasions and looked capable of tearing a game apart at any moment. By all accounts Lynch has had a near perfect pre-season this time around, so we expect him to hit the ground running in 2020. Shorter quarters do make it harder for players to kick bags of goals this season, but we can still see Lynch chiming in with three without breaking too much of a sweat.
The second of two goal scorer markets we have our eye on involves Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer. The big man has been plagued by injuries ever since he was taken with pick #1 in the 2007 draft, which has stopped him from reaching his full potential. We have seen Kreuzer play some great footy over the years however, and he’s also shown the ability to snag a goal or two when he rests forward. 30-year-old Kreuzer has caused the Tigers problems over the years when he’s gone forward since they don’t really have a good matchup for him. This has resulted in the big man kicking at least one goal in five of his past six matches against the Tigers, which is a stat we can see him extending on Thursday night.
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