Hyundai A-League Team of the Week - Round 12

Sydney FC produced a heroic display to come from behind with 10 men to beat Melbourne City, and a number of their stars feature in the Team of the Week.

Wellington Phoenix also impressed with a 3-1 win as the Hyundai A-League went to Ballarat for the very first time, while Western Sydney Wanderers triumphed in a 3-2 epic in Adelaide and Perth Glory brushed aside the Central Coast Mariners 3-0 on New Year's Eve.

So many players stood out in those clashes, but only 11 can star in the final Hyundai A-League Team of the Week of 2019. Find out who made a-league.com.au's Round 12 selection. It's a 4-4-2.

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Goalkeeper

Jamie Young (Brisbane Roar)

With Brisbane chasing an equaliser in Saturday's must-not-lose clash against Newcastle, Young stood tall to ensure Robbie Fowler's side escaped the Hunter Valley with what could be a precious comeback point. 

The experienced shot stopper made six saves on the night - including an outstanding one on one stop to deny Angus Thurgate with 10 minutes remaining – but produced an even better reflex stop at the death to acrobatically palm away Ben Kantarovski's header.

REACTION: Frustrated Fowler says Roar’s ladder position is a lie

 

Defenders

Matthew Millar (Newcastle Jets)

After a torrid evening attempting to contain Diego Castro and Bruno Fornaroli in Newcastle's drubbing in Perth last time out, Millar responded excellently in the Jets' 1-1 draw with Brisbane.

The former Central Coast Mariner delivered a sublime cross in the lead up to Dimitri Petratos' opener and again one of the most dangerous outlets for Ernie Merrick's men.

And he shone defensively too, winning three of five tackles, 12 of 18 duels, making three interceptions and four clearances – including a fantastic goal-saving block late on. 

REPORT: Inman wonder-strike salvages point for Roar against Newcastle


Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC)

With Sydney FC down a goal and a player, the Champions needed a captain’s performance to stand any chance against Melbourne City. Step forward Alex Wilkinson.

The Sky Blues’ centre-half was faultless following Ryan Grant’s red card as City barely got a sniff of goal against Sydney FC despite having a player advantage for more than 70 minutes.

Wilkinson marshalled his make-shift backline to build the platform for the comeback win and logged a match-high six clearances. As Jamie Maclaren discovered at Kogarah: none shall pass.

REPORT: Barbarouses nets winner as 10-man Sydney go nine points clear

Alex Wilkinson

 

Gregory Wüthrich (Perth Glory)

Gregory Wüthrich is making a name for himself as the steady head of Perth Glory’s solid-steel backline.

The Swiss was the dominant force of Tony Popovic’s three centre-backs, winning five of his eight duels and clocking up three clearances and three interceptions, barely allowing the Mariners a sniff in his 72 minutes, before coming off with a knock.

Perth's third clean sheet in four matches came in tricky conditions as 80km per hour winds swirled around Gosford, but Wüthrich did not put a foot wrong in the competition's second-best defence.

REPORT: Glory get New Year's party started with fourth win on the spin

Gregory Wüthrich


Liberato Cacace (Wellington Phoenix)

Is there a better full-back in the Hyundai A-League right now than Liberato Cacace?

That is a question that demands serious consideration after the young Kiwi's performance against Western United, the latest in a long line of show-stopping performances from the 19-year-old.

While the attacking side of Cacace's game deserves all the plaudits, on this occasion it was his sound defensive duties that caught the eye: three of four tackles won, five duels, four clearances and two interceptions testament to a sturdy display.

REPORT: Phoenix storm into top six after impressive win over Western United 

Liberato Cacace

 

Midfielders

Diego Castro (Perth Glory)

It was another masterful display by Perth Glory’s talisman in tricky circumstances on the Central Coast.

As every other player struggled to assert themselves in hot, blustery and hazy conditions, Castro proved to be unfazed as he stepped up to slam a thunderbolt into the Mariners net on the stroke of half-time.

The Spanish maestro was head and shoulders above the rest, creating a match-high five chances from his 43 passes, as well as laying on an assist to Bruno Fornaroli to stretch the lead to three.

WATCH: Castro rifles his shot into the bottom corner to breaks the deadlock in Gosford.

Cameron Devlin (Wellington Phoenix) 

Devlin showed he's more than just an understudy to Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer after yet another superb performance in Wellington's midfield against Western United on Saturday afternoon.

It's the third Team of the Week appearance for Devlin in as many weeks after he replaced the injured Rufer in Wellington's line up – and on the evidence provided Ufuk Talay would be a brave man to remove the former Sydney FC starlet.

He gives Phoenix control with the ball (no Phoenix player made more than his 50 passes, at 92% accuracy), and the diminutive midfielder is equally effective in defence as highlighted by the tackle which led to David Ball's opener. 

REACTION: Slater - Wellington are the second-best team in the Hyundai A-League right now

WATCH: Devlin won possession before Davila made Ball's opener against Western United.

Luke Brattan (Sydney FC)

Sydney may have played with a man down in Sunday's win over City but Brattan's quality and intelligence more than made up for that disadvantage. The gutsy victory was arguably the ex-City man's best in a Sydney shirt to date. 

Brattan covered ground tirelessly and his typically savvy use of the ball (80 passes - 28 more than the next nearest Sydney player) allowed the Sky Blues to hold their own and eventually win it.

Luke Brattan


Nikola Mileusnic (Adelaide United)

We're not sure what Mileusnic had for Christmas lunch but whatever it was he should make it a weekly meal after his sublime display against the Wanderers.

The Reds may have been on the wrong end of the result but that is no fault of the winger, who was arguably the best player on the Coopers Stadium pitch.

Not only did Mileusnic set up Adelaide's first goal but he created a game-high four chances and caused havoc with his pace and trickery in a classy display. 

READ: Verbeek admits Reds only have themselves to blame for loss to Wanderers

 

Forwards

Ulises Dávila (Wellington Phoenix) 

Mexican attacker Ulises Dávila is having an outstanding impact on Wellington's fortunes and he put in yet another brilliant show against Western United on Saturday.

Davila provided one assist – a superb turn, run and cross for David Ball – and iced the contest and a best-on-ground display with a cool finish on 80 minutes.

His touch, turn of pace and attacking craftsmanship was of supreme calibre as he ran amok in Wellington's territory all day long against a United outfit which simply couldn't handle his brilliance.


Nicolai Müller (Western Sydney Wanderers)

It has taken the German forward a little while to settle in the Hyundai A-League but he showed all of his Bundesliga experience in Western Sydney's win over the Reds.

Muller proved to be the difference maker at Coopers Stadium, scoring two sensational headers, the second an astonishing bullet effort that gave 'keeper Paul Izzo no chance.

Coach Markus Babbel will hope it’s a sign of things to come from his prized recruit, who was Wanderers' most attacking player, by average position, in the City of Churches.

REACTION: Babbel’s relief as Wanderers break 62-day winless drought