It’s a dog-fight for sixth spot in the Hyundai A-League – which makes Saturday’s City v Roar clash a clear finals six-pointer.
Melbourne City FC host defending champions Brisbane Roar FC in a clash that is likely to go a long way to determining which of these two will nab the final spot in the top six.
We look at the pivotal match-ups likely to determine the outcome of this Round 23 clash at AAMI Park.
City's defensive leader Patrick Kisnorbo v Roar striker Andrija Kaluderovic
This has all the makings of a cracking – and physical – one-on-one battle.
After a slow start Kaluderovic is starting to show he can cut it in the Hyundai A-League as he looks to fill the giant shows of Besart Berisha in Roar’s attack (something Mensur Kurtishi couldn’t do).
While not as ferocious as the Albanian, Kaluderovic does have a good eye for goal as he showed with his smart finish against Wellington last weekend.
If he is given space and time in and around the box, he will make City pay.
As City’s skipper and most experienced defender, the job of shutting Kaluderovic down will fall on the shoulders of Kisnorbo.
The ex-Socceroo defender is a winner and likes to lead by example, as seen last week against the Sky Blues.
Kisnorbo appears to be hitting his straps at just the right time with City keeping two consecutive clean sheets.
In a match with so many intriguing head-to-head battles, this contrast of styles could be the most important in deciding the outcome.
City playmaker Robi Koren v Roar number six Luke Brattan
Another vital match-up that will go a long way to deciding which team comes out on top.
City’s marquee man Koren probably hasn’t reached the heights that saw him playing in the English Premier League just last season.
But his big-game experience and class is vital to the home side’s hopes of a win here, especially with Aaron Mooy away on Socceroo duty.
Koren is at his best when he is given a license to roam by van ‘t Schip, often finding pockets of space in between the lines of opposition’s midfield and defence.
When that occurs he often receives the ball facing goal and can either get a shot in or release his pacy wingers down the flanks.
It makes Brattan’s role screening Brisbane defence this weekend even more important.
Regarded as one of the best passers of a ball in the Hyundai A-League, Brattan’s ability to shut-down Koren might be more vital on Saturday night.
But his range of passing could also be a factor, able to switch the point of attack with a raking cross-field pass which can spring Roar from defence to attack in an instant.
Who'll get on top of who and win this crucial battle? We can't wait to find out.
City’s defensive mid Erik Paartalu v Roar’s attacking mid Devante Clut
Paartalu will always be revered by Roar fans for that last-gasp equalizer in the 2011 grand final and his role in back-to-back championships under Ange Postecoglou.
But the 28-year-old defensive midfielder now looms as a massive road-block to Brisbane’s hopes of playing finals football.
While Paartalu might be playing a different style to when he was wearing Orange, he has been just as effective for John van ‘t Schip’s side.
It’s not just his ability to break up play with an interception or tackle but he can start attacks with an incisive pass and is dangerous at set-pieces with three-goals this season.
Paartalu’s main role on Saturday night is likely to be trying to quell the influence of the rising star Clut.
With skipper Matt McKay missing on international duty, Clut is likely to play a more prominent role for the visitors in the middle of the park.
His form and stunning goals in this year's ACL shows the potential of the former Nike Chance player.
Will it be the power and experience of Paartalu or can Clut’s emerging talent win his share of key moments in the game?
Don’t miss a second of this tussle.