AFL 2023 Debate Club – Which team wins the premiership flag – Melbourne Demons, Collingwood Magpies favourites

AFL 2023 Debate Club – Which team wins the premiership flag – Melbourne Demons, Collingwood Magpies favourites

ESPNSep 5, 2023, 07:30 AM4 Minute Learn

Welcome to ESPN’s AFL Debate Club, the column by which our writers and contributors will take one immediate from the week and put their opinion on the document. The kicker? No opinion is immune from criticism!

This week, Rohan Connolly and Jake Michaels debate the million greenback query — who wins the 2023 AFL premiership?

Who will win the 2023 premiership?

Rohan Connolly: I’ve fairly truthfully by no means earlier than discovered it so arduous to determine even one team I feel stands out as a flag favorite forward of the relaxation. Not less than 4 for my part have very critical claims. And so they additionally all have vulnerabilities. But when push involves shove, I am in all probability nonetheless going with Collingwood.

I’ve truly received a little bit of a hunch Thursday night time’s epic between the Magpies and Melbourne is perhaps merely a prequel to a Grand Last rematch between the two, so it’s miles from curtains for the loser.

And a name for the Pies over the Dees for me actually is a toss of the coin, and possibly would have been completely different however for the premature knee damage to Jake Melksham, which has meant Melbourne has to trend yet one more completely different ahead set-up at the worst doable time.

Collingwood, in distinction, I really feel has ridden out the storm, will get key defenders Darcy Moore and Nathan Murphy again this week, whereas the latest renaissance of Jack Ginnivan simply will increase the Pies’ unpredictability and spark given the continued absence of Nick Daicos. And the latter’s return for both a semi or preliminary ultimate is clearly an enormous increase.

Collingwood has taken on and overwhelmed all comers for just about two years now, and is a greater and extra mature line-up even than final September, when it gained a ultimate and misplaced two to the eventual grand finalists by a kick.

It is stable each defensively and offensively (ranked third and fourth, respectively), has a properly-documented capability to hold in video games then come over the high of opponents with a withering end,

And it additionally has an enormous plus in the MCG, the place it’ll play both three out of three, or at worst three out of 4 occasions whether it is to win a premiership. The Magpies have gained 24 of 30 video games at the venue since the begin of final yr, and most weeks play in entrance of finals-sized crowds and environment.

That, too, will matter in a flag race the place each little edge might be the distinction.

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Jake Michaels: Answering this query on the eve of finals is at all times robust, nevertheless it in some way feels much more troublesome in 2023.

With that mentioned, I consider the winner of Thursday night time’s qualifying ultimate between Collingwood and Melbourne will find yourself hoisting the premiership cup on Grand Last day. So who wins that recreation? The Demons.

Simon Goodwin’s aspect has flown superbly below the radar this yr. It isn’t obtained the plaudits fairly like the Magpies and even the Energy, nevertheless it’s been adequate and constant sufficient to financial institution the requisite wins for a high 4 end and the coveted double likelihood. Not unhealthy for a team many felt had been simply plodding alongside for the majority of the season.

The Dees tick nearly each field relating to Champion Knowledge’s Premiership Normal, which appears at how groups are monitoring compared to the 10 most up-to-date premiers in the statistical areas considered as vital to flag success.

In contrast to the different seven groups set to embark on a finals marketing campaign (Collingwood included), Melbourne does not have any obvious weak point or space of enchancment. The truth is, they rank in the high third of groups for all defensive and midfield measures, and three of the 4 offensive metrics. Not solely that however its ball motion and territory recreation is pretty much as good, if not higher, than any team they may come up in opposition to over the subsequent month.

The lack of Melksham does make me a tad nervous about this prediction, given he had been enjoying such a pivotal function in the ahead 50m. However with Clayton Oliver again and rounding into type and the resurgence of Jack Viney, it’ll permit Christian Petracca to spend extra time in the entrance half, partnering Bayley Fritsch, who has additionally simply returned to the aspect from damage.

After which there’s the truth Melbourne is aware of what’s required to ship in September, having gained the flag 24 months in the past. No different team contesting the finals has gained a premiership in the final decade. The Dees will win it and a month from now we’ll be debating the AFL’s newest potential dynasty.

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