AFL 2022: Mick McGuane previews Collingwood v Carlton

It’s been years since Carlton has been a big scalp for Collingwood. Mick McGuane previews the Sunday blockbuster and analyses how the Pies can cause an upset.

Few people understand the Collingwood-Carlton hatred like Mick McGuane.

Having played for both clubs, one of the game’s leading analysts looks at where Sunday’s blockbuster between the fierce rivals will be decided.

Who wins and why?

This game shapes as the biggest blockbuster battle between these two arch rivals for some time.

The build-up has been big and the MCG is going to be packed with 80,000-plus fans come Sunday afternoon.

These two teams most recently played in round 18 last year, with the Blues getting away with a 29-point win.

But both teams have new coaches since then and personnel – particularly for Carlton – is significantly different.

That said, I’m backing the Blues to get another win.

The combative style of footy that Carlton is playing with this year is very conducive to winning games of footy.

Michael Voss’ side ranks No. 1 in the competition for disposals and contested possession differential, as well as No. 2 for loose ball gets and No. 3 for contested marks. They want to own the ball.

How will Collingwood stop Patrick Cripps? Picture: AAP Image/Sean Garnsworthy
How will Collingwood stop Patrick Cripps? Picture: AAP Image/Sean Garnsworthy

The Brutal Blues are getting it done both in the air and at ground level, in all areas of the ground.

Carlton’s contested and clearance brand are allowing it to play a strong territory game, which is going to challenge Collingwood’s defence.

The Magpies must replicate the tackling and pressure game they brought against Fremantle last week – which was through the roof – if they are to stand a chance. No time, no space, no regrets must be their mantra.

This will help limit Carlton’s momentum swings as staying with the Blues on the scoreboard is a must.

With the way Carlton plays, fatigue can set in which can open them up late in quarters and late in games. Collingwood would be well aware of this so taking away the Blues attacking prowess is important.

Why it matters

Carlton might sit 8-2, but it has a percentage of just 114.6 and has some tough games coming up which will could determine its top-four fate at the end of the year.

After Collingwood, the Blues face Essendon, Richmond, Fremantle and St Kilda.

The last three of those games are against sides who currently sit in the top eight, so you do not want to be dropping games you should win before that if you want to get your hands on a finals double chance.

If I’m Michael Voss, I’m telling my side not to let our arch rival disrupt where we are heading, to again show the maturity we have shown over the past month and to continue to work on our forward-half pressure game as well as not being heavily scored against on turnovers.

The Blues are flying at the moment, but a loss here would be a huge setback.

Zac Fisher has improved his kicking and is having a serious impact for the Blues. Picture: Michael Klein
Zac Fisher has improved his kicking and is having a serious impact for the Blues. Picture: Michael Klein

On fire: Zac Fisher

I could easily go to Jacob Weitering, Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, George Hewett or Charlie Curnow.

But I want to give some credit to one of the Blues’ less-recognised shining lights this season in Fisher.

I’ve admired his work in the front half of the ground, which has been a huge part of Michael Voss’s coaching template.

Fisher missed a significant chunk of games through injury last season, but has not missed a beat so far this year.

Fisher ranks elite among general forwards for disposals, averaging 18.4 a game, while he is above average for goals (1.1 a game) and score involvements (5.9 a game).

He has great speed and decision making and his ball use by foot has also significantly improved.

Fisher is a reason why Carlton are currently such a dynamic team to watch.

According to Champion Data, he has recorded the highest kick rating of any player in the competition from his 103 kicks this season.

Room for improvement: Matt Owies and Corey Durdin

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved the evolution of Carlton’s forward line this season and Owies and Durdin have been a key part of the new “mosquito fleet”.

Defensively, the pair have been super and both rank above average among small forwards for forward-half pressure points.

The area of improvement for them is hitting the scoreboard more often than they do.

Owies and Durdin have kicked 15 goals between them this season.

Compare that to the combination of Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy at Brisbane who have combined for 39 goals, or Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo at Melbourne, who have booted 19 goals.

Owies and Pickett have both applied 20 forward-50 tackles this season, ranked No. 1 in the competition.

So that’s the comparison.

They Blues pair are doing really well, but the next phase of developing their game is to kick a few more goals.

If they can do that, it will take some pressure off the likes of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay and Carlton will be well on its way to being a complete well-rounded side.

Matthew Owies has kicked seven goals in 10 games. Picture: Michael Klein
Matthew Owies has kicked seven goals in 10 games. Picture: Michael Klein

Marquee match-up: Charlie Curnow v Darcy Moore

A lot has been said about Darcy Moore the past few weeks and Collingwood is working on its system-based defence.

However, the forward that Carlton’s midfielders will be looking for is Curnow, considering the form he is in.

Curnow is playing with great energy and wants and demands the ball – a trait of all the game’s best key forwards over the past 20 or 30 years.

Craig McRae will need to give Moore a simplistic message this week: play tight on the Blues’ spearhead and be really assertive and aggressive. His starting point might need to alter at times. Is playing back shoulder the way to go? Or will starting from in front be his preference? No matter which method Moore decides, his fate will be determined by the pressure his teammates apply up the ground.

Curnow and Moore are both superb athletes and both super competitive beasts.

Moore will have to engage Curnow’s body early and take away his run and jump at the ball if he is to limit the Coleman Medal leader’s scoring prowess.

If he can’t, it could get ugly for Collingwood.

The other match-up the Magpies will need to get right is through the middle of the ground with Carlton captain Patrick Cripps.

Could Jack Crisp be the one to quell Cripps’ influence at stoppages and then go with him all the way in general play? Cripps won’t want to be held to two consecutive quiet games, especially in a game of this magnitude.

Originally published as AFL 2022: Mick McGuane previews Collingwood v Carlton

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