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Match preview: Collingwood v Geelong

Pick a Winner: Coll v Geel Duck and Browny preview the Magpies v Cats

Where and when: MCG, Friday March 22, 7.50pm 

FOLLOW IT LIVE Pies v Cats

Last time they met: MCG, round eight, 2018: Collingwood 5.15 (45) lost to Geelong 9.12 (66)

In a scrappy, low-scoring affair, the Cats kicked four of the opening five goals, restricting the Pies to just one goal by half-time, and set up a matchwinning break with three successive majors in the third term. The Pies were two short for much of the second half.

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What it means for Collingwood: A win for the 2018 runner-up is crucial given it faces Richmond and reigning premier West Coast in the following fortnight.

What it means for Geelong: This season has been billed as the last chance for the Cats to succeed with this group, and a victory here would certainly have the fans dreaming about another flag.

How Collingwood wins: The Magpies' 'Swoop Squad' of small and medium-sized forwards, comprising the likes of Jordan De Goey, Jamie Elliott, Jaidyn Stephenson, Travis Varcoe and Josh Thomas, has the potential to pose enormous headaches for the Cats, who will be without important stoppers Zach Tuohy and Jed Bews.

How Geelong wins: Although Brodie Grundy is expected to take the upperhand in the ruck, the Cats' midfield is more than capable of gaining the ascendancy, which would provide power forward Tom Hawkins with his best chance of exposing the new-look Pies' defence.

The stat: Geelong has won 11 of its past 14 round one games, while Collingwood has won just two from seven under Nathan Buckley, and has been beaten in its past three season openers.

The match-up: Joel Selwood v Levi Greenwood. The Magpie desperado (ranked No. 380 in the Official AFL Player Ratings) appears set to renew his heated relationship with the Cats skipper (No. 53), against whom he has a good record. Selwood will be hellbent on getting one back on him.

It’s a big week for: Jamie Elliott. The Magpie livewire has missed two of the past three seasons through injury and will make his first AFL appearance in 19 months. Fit and firing after a strong pre-season, he won't simply ease himself back – he might well prove the matchwinner.

Magpies fans will be excited to see Jamie Elliott back in action. Picture: AFL Photos

Big call: Pies defender Jack Crisp will upstage the two powerful midfields to be the most prolific ball winner afield.

Prediction: Magpies by 19 points

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs