Numbers align for Round 18

There may still be a third of the season to go but this weekend shapes as a critical round in the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League finals race.

There may still be a third of the season to go but this weekend shapes as a critical round in the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League finals race.

Ten points separate eight teams on the ladder but more noticeably only four points sit between fourth and ninth. But what adds further to what lies ahead in Play Football Round is that it pits 1v2, 3v4, 5v6, 7v10 and 8v9.

Fittingly, the round kicks off with a top of the table blockbuster as Brisbane Roar make the trip out to Sydney-s west to tackle the Wanderers. The Roar have built up a seven point lead at the top with a game in hand over the Tony Popovic-s team and a victory on Friday night would make them able to almost start etching their name on the Premiers Plate. Then it-s a Super Saturday as the third placed Mariners go head to head with fourth placed Melbourne Victory in Gosford.

This is followed by Sydney FC trying to consolidate their place in the top six by keeping the chasing pack, including Saturday night-s opponents Adelaide United at bay. The Reds are just a point behind the Sky Blues and could jump up to fourth with a win if the Mariners also beat Melbourne.

On Sunday it-s a resurgent Melbourne Heart hosting seventh placed Perth Glory at AAMI Park, the Heart still not out of final calculations after picking up maximum points last weekend for just the second time this season. Meanwhile, the Glory are on the cusp of breaking into the six and could find themselves in there with a victory and on the proviso that Sydney and Adelaide play out a repeat result from the last time they met when the spoils were shared.

Concluding the round are two teams separated only by goal difference and aiming to put themselves firmly amongst the top six log jam. Newcastle and the Wellington Phoenix will lock horns at Hunter Stadium, the Jets having picked up just two points from their past six games while the team from across the Tasman have won five of their past seven.

There is plenty to play for every week in the Hyundai A-League but with the scenario surrounding Round 18, it promises to provide an added element of incentive for every club and their fans. Play Football Round looms as a doozy!

The biggest match of the Hyundai A-League season will be simulcast on all three SBS channels - SBS ONE, SBS 2 and SBS HD as well as FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports HD this Friday.