It’s almost that time of year again and with the 2020 AFL season about to begin, it seems like everyone has something to say about which teams have a realistic chance of success. We all have our own thoughts, but this trio of teams are creating the most buzz between the experts and pundits.
Rinse and repeat for Richmond?
After finishing third on the ladder behind Brisbane and Geelong by virtue of a lesser points percentage, although Richmond didn’t win the minor premiers last year, they hit their very best form going into the finals series. After sweeping aside those two sides on their way to the Grand Final, the Tigers annihilated GWS at the MCG to secure a memorable second premiership title in three seasons.
What made that all the more impressive was doing so without key player Alex Rance for all but the opening game of the 2019 AFL season, when the iconic fullback ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. While the rest of the team rallied in his absence, there was also an abundance of strength and depth, matched by an impressive playing style that rivals have struggled to match. Rance has retired since, although they’re expected to cope without him.
— Richmond FC 🐯🏆 (@Richmond_FC) September 28, 2019
“The more you think about it, the harder it is to get past Richmond because of the brand of football they play,” said legendary Hawthorn goalkicker Jason Dunstall, while analysing his expectations for the Tigers on Fox Footy. He also highlighted that beyond the regular starters, several talented young players are pushing hard for games, which means the pressure will be there to perform in every game.
Like many of the experts, the bookies are also finding it hard to look beyond Richmond for another flag this year. Indeed, the latest Aussie Rules betting has the Tigers tipped at 3.60 to be top of the ladder after 22 games, along with 4.25 to go on and win the 2020 Grand Final. Nevertheless, they will certainly face plenty of stiff competition and from two key contenders.
Will the Eagles soar?
They haven’t won a Grand Final since 2006, while their last appearance in the end of season showpiece was in 2015 when they were soundly beaten by Hawthorn, yet there’s growing belief that in 2020, West Coast Eagles can make it a campaign to remember. After finishing fifth on the ladder and four points behind the leading trio, then falling short in the semi-finals against Geelong, the Eagles will be keen to improve.
Welcome to the West, Tim!
— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) October 9, 2019
“The Eagles look primed for a big season and I will not be surprised if they can go all the way in 2020,” says Giacomo Bruno with confidence at The Roar. He believes the addition of Tim Kelly from Geelong brings increased quality to their midfield, whilst also suggesting that home form will be pivotal towards any success the Eagles might achieve this year.
Mighty season for the Magpies?
It was all starting to look so good for Collingwood last season. They kept within touching distance of the leading pack on the ladder, and conceded the fewest points against over 22 games, ending the regular season with four straight wins to set themselves up nicely for the finals series. After beating minor premier winners Geelong to reach the preliminary finals, it all went wrong. The Magpies were beaten by GWS and missed their crack at the Grand Final.
"I asked if I could come around for a chat and he made me a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches and we went out the back and ate the sandwiches. Then I said I was staying and he said, 'that's great'."
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) January 17, 2020
“Whilst they have a tough start to the 2020 season, Nathan Buckley’s boys will be eager to build on their strong campaign,” suggested Tom Naghten at Sporting News. He feels that the Magpies should comfortably be amongst the top four contenders for the minor premiers, while also aiming to go all the way and reach the Grand Final. Tying down Brodie Grundy on a new deal is regarded as central to their plans for progress.