The key matchups which could decide Semi-Finals

Big games are decided in key moments, often at the hands of key players built for the big stage and the bright lights.

Looking ahead to two highly anticipated Hyundai A-League Semi-Finals between four clubs brimming with talent, there are stars aplenty eagerly anticipating the game-breaking moments which may present themselves on Wednesday night.

There'll be tense battles all over the pitch when Melbourne City host Western United in the first of the Semi-Finals, before Sydney FC lock horns with Perth Glory in a Grand Final rematch.

We've taken a look at all four sides to bring you the key matchups of the Semi-Finals!

MATCH PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Perth Glory
MATCH PREVIEW: Melbourne City v Western United

LFWWS final

Melbourne City v Western United

Craig Noone v Josh Risdon

Josh Risdon has shown his willingness to get forward and attack from his flying wing-back role in Mark Rudan's United outfit, but the 28-year-old Socceroo will need to be wary of the threat posed by City's Craig Noone who will operate down his flank on Wednesday evening.

Noone is City's prime creator; his seven assists for the season put him joint-second in total assists for the season, while he sits behind Jay O'Shea and Dimitri Petratos in chances created throughout the 2019/20 campaign.

Risdon is level with Noone on seven assists for the season - so is his United teammate and captain Alessandro Diamanti.

He benefits greatly from United's system which allows both he and fellow wing-back Connor Pain to get forward into the box to create chances.

But Risdon will need to keep one eye over his shoulder throughout United's clash with City to ensure Noone isn't provided the freedom to operate in the space he vacates when bombing into attack.

Risdon to Berisha: a sight we've grown accustomed to seeing this season

Besart Berisha v Jamie Maclaren 

Two of the most lethal spearheads in Hyundai A-League history will go head-to-head when City's Jamie Maclaren and United's Besart Berisha take off in hot pursuit of match-winning goals.

Maclaren wrapped up his second Golden Boot at the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign, finishing the season with 22 goals ahead of Sydney FC's Adam Le Fondre (20) and Berisha (19).

The 27-year-old's rampant goalscoring form helped City along the way to their best-ever finish of second on the Hyundai A-League table, and a club-record points tally of 47.

But the Socceroos striker will be under immense pressure to continue to fill his boots on Wednesday night with Berisha lurking down the other end, waiting to pounce on any chance which may come his way to spoil the City party.

Berisha's ten goals in Hyundai A-League finals games is the joint-most of any player in the competition's history (a record shared with Melbourne Victory legend Archie Thompson).

The league's record goalscorer only needs a sniff of a chance to leave his mark on a Finals Series encounter, and the wily operator would love nothing more than to get one over the Golden Boot winner and retake his seat on the throne as the league's sharpest shooter.

Besart Berisha Jamie Maclaren
It won't be all smiles when Maclaren and Berisha go head-to-head on Wednesday night

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Sydney FC v Perth Glory

Bruno Fornaroli v Andrew Redmayne

When Bruno Fornaroli signed for Perth Glory ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, the potential link between the Uruguayan, Diego Castro and Chris Ikonomidis was the talk of the town.

A season-ending injury to Ikonomidis early doors and the absence of Castro since the Hyundai A-League restart has meant that mouth-watering prospect has not come to fruition this season.

It's made for a somewhat underwhelming debut season in purple for Fornaroli, who finished nine goals off Maclaren in the race for the Golden boot on 13 goals for the campaign - he's scored just one goal in his last nine games, but can turn that all around with a match-winning display against the Sky Blues. 

WATCH: This Round 7 strike made Fornaroli the quickest player to reach 50 Hyundai A-League goals

Even if Fornaroli brings his best form into the Semi-Final clash, however, there's no saying he'll be able to get past the Sky Blues' gloveman Andrew Redmayne who conceded just 23 goals across 25 games this season, and will take great confidence from his last finals outing against Perth in the 2018/19 Grand Final.

Redmayne was superb on the day, keeping his sheet clean until a penalty shootout in which he kept two Glory penalties out to help the Sky Blues clinch the Championship.

It's a clash between two match-winners which could go either way, dependant on whether Fornaroli produces enough attacking nous to outfox the safe hands of Sydney's custodian.

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Neil Kilkenny v Milos Ninkovic

In Neil Kilkenny and Milos Ninkovic Perth and Sydney have two midfielders of very different capabilities and skillsets, who both possess enormous potential to turn Wednesday night's Semi-Final on its head.

Kilkenny is at the heart of every Perth Glory move; he's laid a league-high 1,719 passes throughout the season, has five assists and three goals of his own and has played more than ten passes into his side's attacking box per game on average, the most of any player from the remaining four teams.

While Kilkenny attempts to help Perth control possession and dictate play Ninkovic will float through the opposing midfield, sniffing around for any chance to cause chaos.

With deft skills, an eye for goal and a determination to create, Ninkovic has proved his ability to decide a game time and again throughout his memorable stint in Sky Blue. 

Ninkovic has five goals from 30 shots to date this season, while his 38 scoring chances created from open play is the most of any Sky Blue. 

And who could forget the last time Ninkovic faced off against Perth in a final? The Serbian walked away with two medals on that night: one for becoming a Hyundai A-League Champion for the second time, the other - the Joe Marsden Medal - for his best afield performance. 

Neil Kilkenny

 

Melbourne City v Western United

When: Wednesday, August 26
Kick-off: 5pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: ABC ME delayed at 8.25pm, FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports, ABC iView 

Sydney FC v Perth Glory

When: Wednesday, August 26
Kick-off: 8.10pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports

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REPORT: Diamanti magic leads United past Roar to reach Semi-Final in maiden season

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