Grand Final game-breakers

Their impact could be positive or negative, but neither of these players will leave anything on the pitch.

As sure as there will be a winner between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory on Sunday, there will surely be a defining moment, where one player positively or negatively makes an impact for their team.

While it-s a given that Thomas Broich will have an impact and every fan from New Zealand and Australia knows Shane Smeltz is indeed a massive threat in front of goal, we take a look at two players who could swing the result either way in the grand final.

Call them the X-Factor, game changer whatever you want, but Besart Berisha and Jacob Burns are both brilliant and combustible at times and will play their part this Sunday.

First to the Roar striker:

There is no doubt Berisha can score a goal (his Nike Golden Boot winning heroics are proof of that) with 19 goals throughout the season and four against the Glory in two games, the Albanian star is almost looking like a good thing to score a goal in his first grand final for the Roar.

Berisha openly admitted in an interview last week that he couldn-t wait to sink his teeth into the grand final.

“Every football player loves to play this type of finals series, especially in Australia and this is also my first final. I saw some highlights from last year and I am looking forward to my first final in Brisbane.”

Nice guy that he is off the pitch, there is a hint of the infamous ‘white line fever- when he is on the pitch and you can surely expect Perth to test his temperament this weekend.

Clashes with teammates Mitch Nichols and Issey Nakajima-Farran throughout the season have been heated, the latter costing the Roar a goal as Berisha berated Farran instead of focussing on forming a wall. A goal was then scored from the resultant set piece by Ali Abbas for Newcastle.

Then there is his infamous on and off the pitch tussle with Sydney FC-s Pascal Bosschart at Suncorp Stadium. The image of a shirtless Berisha suggesting Bosschart should join him up the tunnel or in the car park certainly won-t be forgotten anytime soon either.

With that in mind it wouldn-t be surprising to see someone like wily veteran Dean Heffernan clutter into him with a solid early challenge to see if he does indeed react this weekend, or even Perth skipper and noted niggler Jacob Burns test him out mentally.

One thing is for sure though, Berisha will explode and whether it-s with a goal or act of defiance, he might hold the key for the Roar.

At the other end of the park will stand Jacob Burns. The midfield dynamo, former Leeds star, calm penalty taker and esteemed leader has his own demons to deal with.

Burns has shown his strength plenty of times this year, coming back from a rib injury to lead Perth on their finals run was a physical way of doing so, making sure he took the all-important fifth penalty against the Mariners showed his mental strength.

He shows it in other ways too, if you did a poll of the A-League he might well be one guy opposition players least like to line up against. For want of a better word he is niggly, his physical pressure seems to bring the worst out of his opponents and sometimes himself.

His stoush with Henrique last time the Roar and Glory faced off was probably embarrassing for both players (Burns had his elbow raised, clipped Henrique and then the Brazilian hit him with a soft open hand, causing Burns to go down and Henrique to receive a red card)... who-s ready for round two of that battle?

The point is Burns had an impact, he is also a bit of a dead ball specialist and can hit them from range to cause opposing goalkeepers grief, he-s not just an instigator of trouble but also a class player.

The problem for Burns is that referees seem to know he has a penchant for stirring up trouble. In the three seasons since he returned to Australia and the A-League he has given away 198 fouls and received 24 yellow cards (seven this season) and been sent off once.

It-s hardly the record of an angel and Burns himself would admit he is not one, he-s usually smart with the fouls he gives away too, but in the heat of a grand final, it is possible he gives one away in the wrong area or tests the referee-s patience so severely that the official may react in the worst way on the big stage.

Whether their impact is positive or negative, both Burns and Berisha will assure one thing, and that is that the 2012 A-League Grand Final will not be a dull one.

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