Brisbane Roar can ill afford to drop points when they welcome Perth Glory to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Date: Friday December 21, 2012 Kick-off: 8.00pm EST, 9.00pm AEDT Venue:Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Head-to-head Played: 23, Wins: Brisbane Roar 14, Perth Glory 4, Draws: 5
Previous encounter Brisbane Roar 0 Perth Glory 1, October 7 2012
Form: Past five matches: Brisbane Roar: WLWLD Perth Glory: LDLLW
The Game Brisbane Roar can ill afford to drop points when they welcome Perth Glory to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, in what has quickly become one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the Hyundai A-League calendar.
The Roar, under the guidance of the now departed Ange Postecoglou, made it back-to-back championships last season courtesy of a contentious 97th-minute penalty.
Controversial marksman Besart Berisha, who was brought down inside the box, converted the resulting spot kick to clinch an unprecedented second successive title and break the hearts of Ian Ferguson and his troops.
Since that remarkable day in April, the two sides have squared off once with the Glory exacting revenge in Round 1 this season.
A lot has changed since their season-opening encounter and both teams are aware their campaigns are on the line.
Rado Vidosic's Roar earned a share of the spoils with Melbourne Victory last week but still sit second-from-bottom, while the Glory accounted for the Newcastle Jets 3-0 to snap a five-game winless streak.
The big issue Brisbane Roar- Who will step up in place of Berisha? The Albanian striker is facing a stint on the sidelines after injurying his shoulder at AAMI Park on Saturday. His absence could create a big problem with last season's top goal scorer shouldering most of the load with five goals in 11 games so far. Thomas Broich and Erik Paartalu have scored four goals between but they are not strikers, so the onus will be on the likes of Henrique and if fit, Mitch Nichols to rise to the occasion.
Perth Glory - Can the Glory make it back-to-back wins for the first time this season? Having collected just one point from five matches, Ferguson's men returned to the winners' circle thanks to a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Jets. After winning a match this year, the Glory have either lost or played out a draw the following week. History is against the boys from Western Australia but with Shane Smeltz and Travis Dodd in form, anything is possible.
Gamebreaker Shane Smeltz- The New Zealand international could be the difference between the two clubs on Friday night. After an injury-interrupted start to the season, Smeltz has found the net in two of his past five games. Smeltz also relishes the prospect of coming up against the Roar, scoring seven goals in 13 appearances - he has only enjoyed more success against the Newcastle Jets (10) and Melbourne Victory (11).
Prediction Brisbane 1-2 Perth. Brisbane captain Matt Smith has already labelled the next two weeks as do-or-die for the Roar and while they might be up for the challenge, the absence of an out-and-out striker swings the advantage the visitor's way.