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Preview: Brisbane Roar vs Western Sydney Wanderers

BRIvWSW2013/14 A-League Grand Final
Brisbane Roar vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday 4th May, 4:00pm AEST
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Referee: Peter Green.
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports 2/2HD; Delayed coverage on SBS2/HD.

Last year, the Wanderers brought a halt to Brisbane’s dominance in finals football, knocking them out in the semi-finals in an inspired 90 minutes of football. A year later, and Brisbane Roar have the Premier’s Plate, and the only thing standing in their way of a complete dominance of the 2013/14 season is the team that has proven they can beat them on the big stage – the Western Sydney Wanderers.

How they got there – Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar played Melbourne Victory in the semi finals last week in one of the most anticipated matches of the season. The boys in Orange dominated for the majority of the match, though neither side had many clear cut chances. With Besert Berisha heading your attack, though, it was only a matter of time before the Roar cracked Melbourne’s defence, and the Albanian’s 57th minute strike was enough to get the Roar into the Grand Final.

How they got there – Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney, after gliding past Guizhou Renhe to book a spot in the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday, had four days to prepare for their semi-final match-up between Central Coast Mariners, who had beaten the Wanderers last year in the Grand Final. But after a 5-0 thrashing of a Chinese Super League club, the Wanderers’ confidence was high, and thanks to Hersi and La Rocca, they comfortably booked their place in the Grand Final.

The Statistical Breakdown

This Season: Brisbane 1 win, 2 draws; Goal difference: Brisbane +2.
At Suncorp Stadium: Western Sydney 2 wins, Brisbane 1 win.
Last Match: Western Sydney 1-1 Brisbane Roar (5/4/2014 at Pirtek Stadium).
With Peter Green as referee: Brisbane 12 wins, 8 draws, 9 losses; Western Sydney 2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses.
In finals matches: Western Sydney 1 win (2-0 in 2012/13 Semi Final).

Facts and Figures

  • Brisbane have yet to lose a final at Suncorp Stadium (6 wins, 1 draw).
  • Western Sydney are undefeated in their last 5 games in all competition (4 wins, 1 draw).
  • These two teams conceded the least goals of any teams during the regular season (Brisbane 25, Western Sydney 29).
  • Western Sydney have won 2 of the 3 games between these two clubs at Suncorp Stadium. However, Brisbane won the last of these (3-1 on 22nd November 2013; Goals to Berisha, Franjic, Yeboah and Santalab).
  • If Adam D’Apuzzo fails to score in this match, he will have gone 150 A-League games without a single goal. Brisbane’s Shane Stefanutto is next on that list, with 104 goalless A-League matches.
  • Western Sydney have, in all competitions, kept three clean sheets in a row (vs Ulsan Hyundai, Guizhou Renhe and Central Coast Mariners).
  • Brisbane have lost just 1 of their 11 finals matches since the 2010/11 season. That match was against Western Sydney last season (2-0 loss).
  • This is the 7th time in 9 seasons of the A-League that the top 2 ranked teams in the regular season have met in the Grand Final.
  • Referee Peter Green was also in charge of the last meeting between these two clubs (1-1 draw in round 26 at Pirtek Stadium).
  • This is the 3rd A-League Grand Final to be held at Suncorp Stadium, tying Allianz Stadium (Sydney) and Etihad Stadium (Melbourne) for an even split of the 9 Grand Finals in A-League history.

Injury and Suspension List

Brisbane Roar: George Lambadaridis (knee).
Western Sydney: Mark Bridge (ankle), Gol Gol Mebrahtu (knee), Tahj Minniecon (ankle).

Where Brisbane Roar have the advantage

  • Home Crowd
    Suncorp Stadium can hold 52,000 people, and whilst there is set to be plenty of Wanderers supporters on hand, the majority will surely favour the Roar. A home crowd should settle the Grand Final nerves, and could do the opposite for the travelling team.
  • Goals – take your pick
    One of the most impressive traits of Brisbane Roar is the ability of each and every starting XI player. The midfield is packed with the best the A-League has to offer, the defence is second only to the Wanderers, and the attack has the most fearsome three players in A-League football. But even more impressive is that goals can come from anywhere. Matt Smith and Ivan Franjic in defence are known for their goal scoring ability, as are Brattan, Broich, Petratos and even McKay on occasion. And of course, to top it off, Besert Berisha just needs a millimetre of space to make you pay.
  • Possession-based football
    Mike Mulvey has implemented his own type of possession football since arriving at the Roar, and after a horror campaign against the Wanderers last season – with three defeats and a loss in the finals – the Brisbane side have bounced back considerably to win the Premier’s plate and get the better of the Wanderers this season. The first fixture ended 3-1 in Brisbane’s favour, which was followed by two 1-1 draws.  This should give Brisbane the mental edge heading into the Grand Final.

Where Western Sydney Wanderers have the advantage

  • Suncorp Stadium
    It’s a rather embarrassing statistic to have lost more games at home than you have won against a particular team, but such is the tale of Wanderers/Roar, with the Wanderers winning two games at Suncorp to Brisbane’s one. This may just unnerve the Roar enough and put a certain amount of doubt in their heads.
  • Defiant Defence
    Brisbane may have the fire-power to scare any team, but Western Sydney equally have the defensive power to stop any team. Spiranovic and Topor-Stanley have been as effective as a brick wall this season, and with Beauchamp – a former World Cup Socceroo – waiting on the sidelines, there is enough depth in the defensive line to stop the Roar’s potent strikers. Moreover, the Wanderers thrive against a team who enjoys possession, as Hersi, Cole, Santalab and Ono all patiently wait for their chance to counter-attack.
  • Asian Champions League form
    The Wanderers are the only team from the A-League this season to make it through to the knock-out stages, and they did so in spectacular fashion – topping their group and thrashing Chinese side Guizhou Renhe 5-0 in their final group match. Their confidence will be soaring, but let’s hope they aren’t worn out by a congested last month of the season.

Verdict

Both the Roar and the Wanderers have had some bad spells this season, and yet they eventually (and deservedly) ended up 1st and 2nd on the ladder respectively. Two very different styles of football will go head-to-head in what should be a thrilling match in front of a sell-out crowd at Suncorp Stadium. There will be goals, as there always has been when these two teams meet, but given the styles of both teams, the first goal will be crucial. Brisbane Roar 2-1 Western Sydney.

About the author

avatarJames is a devout Melbourne Victory fan and a UQ Journalism student, writing for Ultimate A-League.

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Comments

  • britesparke

    I am hoping the prediction is wrong and for a Wanderers victory. The WSW have the form coming into this one with some tough ACL and “come from behind” wins in the A League. One also would think that they are mentally tougher after a grand final loss but there are no illusions here as this will be a really hard assignment for both teams. Go Wanderers!!!!