After eight months and 27 rounds of the season it all comes down to this.
After finishing outside the top six, reigning champions Brisbane Roar received a reprieve courtesy of Perth Glory's disqualification, while Westfield FFA Cup winners Adelaide United haven't quite lived up to the sky-high expectations brought on by a flying start to the season.
Now they're set to do battle at the Adelaide Oval for the right to tackle Melbourne Victory or Sydney FC in the semi-finals. Get set for a huge clash to kick off the Finals Series.
Friday, 1 May 2015
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Kick-Off: 7:00 PM (Local) (7:30 PM AEST)
Adelaide United squad:
1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 12.Mark OCHIENG,14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Ben WARLAND, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU
***two to be omitted***
3.Nigel BOOGAARD (return from suspension), 8.ISAÍAS (promoted), 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA (promoted), 17.Awer MABIL (promoted), 18.Jimmy JEGGO (promoted)
2.Michael MARRONE (suspension – 1week), 11.Bruce DJITE (groin – 1 week), Dylan SMITH (not selected)
23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)
Brisbane Roar FC squad
: 2.Jerome POLENZ, 5.Corey BROWN, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 36.Fraser CHALMERS (gk).
5.Corey BROWN, 9.ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 22.Thomas BROICH, 28.Brandon BORRELLO (all promoted)
4.Adam SAROTA, 6.George LAMBADARIDIS, 20.Kofi DANNING, 26.Lachlan JACKSON, 29.Patrick THEODORE, 31.Matt SCHMIDT, 34.Shannon BRADY, 37.Abrahim YANGO, 41.Luke PAVLOU (not selected)
1.Michael THEO (quad – 2 weeks), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (calf – 2 weeks), 10.HENRIQUE (knee – indefinite), 13. Jade NORTH (appendix operation – indefinite), 33.Luke DeVERE (quad – 3 weeks).
: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEST). Delayed coverage on
SBS HD & SBS One from 8.00pm (AEST)
Grandstand Digital Brisbane, 891 ABC Adelaide Digital, online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app.
Assistant Referee 1:
Assistant Referee 2
: Anton Shchetinin
There's no such thing as bogey teams, right? That's what Adelaide United's players and fans will be telling themselves ahead of their Elimination Final with Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
Remarkably, the Reds haven't won at home to the Queensland side in the A-League since February 2010.
That's eight successive league matches in which Coopers Stadium has failed to provide its usual comforts to the regular tenants.
With the weight of recent history stacked against them, Josep Gombau's men will perhaps be thankful the game has been switched from Hindmarsh to Adelaide Oval, despite concerns about unfamiliarity and the suitability of the surface.
Adelaide v Brisbane: the numbers game
The current Reds roster can also draw on their 2-0 Westfield FFA Cup triumph over the Roar earlier this season for inspiration and encouragement, although the stakes are considerably higher this weekend.
Having bowed out of the finals last season at the first hurdle in a limp away loss to the Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide will be determined not to miss another shot at the semi-finals.
Brisbane meanwhile are much-changed from the all-conquering team that won the Premiers' Plate and the Grand Final last term. A few familiar faces remain though and you should only write off the men in orange at your peril.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
- Adelaide are winless in eight home games against Brisbane Roar (D1 L7), losing the last six in a row.
- Brisbane have scored on their last eight visits to Adelaide, including in the play-offs in a 2-1 win in 2013.
- Indeed, Adelaide have kept just one clean sheet in their last 16 meetings with Brisbane.
- Brisbane have won two of their three meetings with Adelaide this season, losing the other.
- Adelaide have made the play-offs for seventh time in total and third time in successive seasons. However, they’ve won only two of their 15 games (D3 L10), losing each of the last three.
- Brisbane have made the play-offs for the fifth consecutive season (W10 D3 L3). One of those defeats came against Adelaide in 2009.
ROUTE TO GOAL
The Reds haven't had much luck with injuries late in the campaign. Just as Marcelo Carrusca is declared fit, down goes centre-forward Bruce Djite with a groin problem. So while one key attacking cog can be reinserted, another has been lost. It will be up to Pablo Sanchez, Miguel Palanca and Sergio Cirio to pick up the slack in the absence of Djite, who hasn't troubled the Golden Boot race but gets through a mountain of work and is important in holding the ball up. Will Gombau hand starts to pacey youngsters Bruce Kamau or Awer Mabil?
The performances of Thomas Broich and Andrija Kaluderovic are likely to determine the visitors' fate. The German creator hasn't hit the heights of a Johnny Warren Medal-winning 2013-14, but his return to fitness has coincided with an upturn in the Queensland side's threat and purpose in the final third.
Kaluderovic meanwhile, although no Besart Berisha, offers structure to the Roar attack, acting as a reference point for other members of the midfield and forward line. He's also demonstrated an eye for crucial goals, including the winner away to his former club Beijing Guoan earlier this month, inflicting a first home defeat since August 2014 on the Chinese Super League outfit. It's time for more heroics on Friday night.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Carrusca is expected to play for the first time since March 29 after recovering from a quad strain. The Argentine is crucial to the Reds' fulfilling their attacking potential, but will he be sharp enough to prove the difference in a must-win game?
The Reds cruised to a comprehensive 4-1 home win over a lacklustre Melbourne City FC last time out. Prior to that though they lost two in succession, 2-1 away to Western Sydney and 3-2 at home to Brisbane.
The Roar go into this game on the back of two consecutive victories, 2-1 at home to the Newcastle Jets and 1-0 away to Beijing Guoan in the AFC Champions League.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Having had no player sent off in their opening 25 matches this season, Adelaide have had a player red carded in each of their last two games.
- Roar meanwhile have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine fixtures.
Adelaide United 2-1 Brisbane Roar
Attack is the best form of defence for both of these teams, so we're expecting an entertaining - if somewhat tense - contest. Adelaide have been the better side throughout 2014-15 and we're tipping Gombau's men to shake off their Roar home hoodoo and advance to the semi-finals.