2011/12 Grand Final Preview: Brisbane vs Perth
How they got there – Brisbane
Brisbane finished the regular season with a record of 14 wins, 7 draws and 6 losses, leaving them in second place on 49 points, two behind premiers Central Coast. In the two-legged major semi final against the Mariners, Brisbane took out the first leg 2-0 at home in front of 15,000 raucous fans, before travelling to Gosford a week later in the return leg to win 3-2, and 5-2 on aggregate. As the winner of the major semi final, Brisbane had the third week of the finals off, and qualified directly through to the Grand Final where they will host the match at Suncorp Stadium for the second consecutive season.
How they got there – Perth
Perth finished third on the A-League table with 13 wins, 4 draws and 10 losses, meaning that they would start the A-League finals series by hosting 6th placed Melbourne Heart at nib Stadium. A Shane Smeltz hat-trick saw off the plucky Heart, and ensured a week two matchup at home against fellow minor semi final winner Wellington Phoenix. Despite going behind 2-1 shortly after half time, Perth fought back against the Phoenix to take the match into extra time, where substitutes Todd Howarth and Scott Neville combined well for the former to score what was the match winner in the 112th minute. Due to Central Coast’s loss to Brisbane in the major semi final, Perth would travel to Gosford in week 3 of the finals to face a determined Mariners outfit. The Mariners were ahead for less than a minute after Adam Kwasnik’s first half goal, before Shane Smeltz duly equalised. A plethora of chances for both teams, particularly in extra time, couldn’t be capitalised on, so the game went to penalties; Perth winning 5-3 from the spot, booking themselves a trip to Brisbane for the A-League Grand Final.
The statistical breakdown
Head to Head: Brisbane Roar 13 wins, Perth Glory 3 wins, 5 draws.
Head to Head (Previous 5): Brisbane Roar 3 wins, Perth Glory 0 wins, 2 draws.
At Suncorp Stadium: Brisbane Roar 6 wins, Perth Glory 1 win, 3 draws.
This season: Brisbane Roar 2 wins, Perth Glory 0 wins, 1 draw.
Last match: Perth Glory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (25/02/2012 at nib Stadium, Perth).
Last match at Suncorp Stadium: Brisbane Roar 4-0 Perth Glory (26/11/2011).
With Jarred Gillett as referee: Brisbane Roar 8 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses; Perth Glory 3 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses.
Facts and Figures
- Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory have never previously faced off in an A-League finals match.
- Of the top 5 scorers at Suncorp Stadium in A-League history, three will be playing in the Grand Final (Mitch Nichols, Besart Berisha and Henrique).
- Brisbane Roar have not lost a finals match since February 21, 2009 when they lost the preliminary final 1-0 to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
- Perth Glory are currently on a four match winning streak.
- Brisbane Roar are currently on a ten match unbeaten streak (8 wins, 2 draws).
- Perth’s Shane Smeltz has scored 6 A-League Finals goals in his career, the second most of any player.
- Brisbane’s Besart Berisha has not scored in his last 6 games in all competitions.
- Perth’s Shane Smeltz has scored 8 goals in his last 4 games.
- Brisbane have not lost an A-League match since late January.
- The team hosting the Grand Final has won on 4 out of 6 occasions in A-League history.
- Despite Perth never having qualified for an A-League Grand Final, they have four players (Dean Heffernan, Steve Pantelidis, Danny Vukovic and Travis Dodd) who have all played in an A-League Grand Final at a different club. Vukovic was infamously sent off for striking the referee in the 2007/08 Grand Final while playing for the Central Coast Mariners.
- Brisbane’s Rocky Visconte will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Grand Final day.
- Brisbane’s Besart Berisha has scored 4 times in 3 games against Perth Glory this season.
- The last two A-League Grand Finals have both progressed to a penalty shootout.
- Match referee Jarred Gillett last refereed a match between Brisbane and Perth in week 8 of this season, when Brisbane defeated Perth 4-0 at Suncorp Stadium.
- Michael Theoklitos is playing in his fourth A-League Grand Final in just the seventh year of the competition – the most Grand Final appearances of any A-League player. Theoklitos previously played in the 2006-07 and 2008-09 finals with Melbourne Victory, and the 2010-11 final with Brisbane Roar.
- Brisbane Roar – None.
- Perth Glory – Andrezinho (subject to fitness test), Evan Berger (hamstring), Chris Coyne (achilles), Victor Sikora (hip).
Where Brisbane have the advantage
- History is on their side
The stats don’t lie, and in this case they weigh heavily in Brisbane’s favour. In the last 5 matches, Perth Glory haven’t managed a win against the Roar, and they’ve managed only one win at Suncorp Stadium in A-League history. Overall, a 13-3 win count to Brisbane, and the fact the last time these teams met at Suncorp the Roar went on to win 4-0, suggest that the Roar have the edge over the Glory.
- The crowd are on their side
A crowd in excess of 50,000 is expected on Sunday with the overwhelming majority of them being Roar fans. If the fans can replicate an atmosphere similar to last season’s grand final, it may provide the edge.
- Fitness and fatigue
The Glory have just come off two successive extra-time finals matches, and will have to travel home to Perth and then back to Brisbane for the Grand Final. On the other hand, Brisbane have had the week off, a tune-up on Tuesday with their Asian Champions League match against Ulsan Hyundai, and then have five days to recover and prepare for the Grand Final without leaving Brisbane and Suncorp Stadium.
- Broich and Nichols
Thomas Broich seems to be getting back to his best in the past few weeks, in both the A-League and Asian Champions League, with finals and confederation football seemingly sparking him into form mirroring that of early-season Broich. His silky skills and trickery around the box were well on show in both legs against the Mariners, as well as on Tuesday night against Ulsan Hyundai – something Perth will find very difficult to counter. Mitch Nichols will also be a huge threat to Perth, having shown over the last handful of A-League games that he is capable of putting his stamp on a game, either by scoring crucial goals or setting them up.
Where Perth have the advantage
- No expectations, nothing to lose
The fact is that Brisbane are expected to win this match. They’re playing at home, they haven’t lost in 10 A-League regular season or finals matches, and they have plenty of finals experience to go around. However, the lack of expectation, and the fact that they have nothing to lose, could spur on a Glory side that has passed every test during the finals series just to get to the Grand Final.
- Shane Smeltz, Shane Smeltz, Shane Smeltz
There is no more deadly a striker in this league than Shane Smeltz. He’s recently taken over the mantle of the most successful striker in the league, and has scored 8 goals in his last 4 games to boot. He is clearly the most in-form attacking weapon playing in the grand final, and as we’ve seen before, he only needs half chances and he’ll make the opposition pay. If Liam Miller and Steve McGarry can provide adequate service, Smeltz is guaranteed to cause some havoc for the Brisbane defence.
Weighing up all the statistics, the history and the form of the two sides, it promises to be a competitive, entertaining match on Sunday afternoon. But their recent dominance of the Glory, plus the fact that the Glory have had a trying schedule of late, makes us lean towards a Brisbane victory for the second year in a row. If Berisha hits his straps in front of goal, and Perth fail to subdue Nichols and Broich, it really could be a long afternoon for the boys from the West.
The hope for Perth lies with a combination of Shane Smeltz and a strong, rearguard effort by their back four. However, having conceded 10 goals in the 3 games against the Roar this season, Perth will have their work cut out for them keeping Brisbane from scoring. Our tip - Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory.