Preview: Hyundai A-League semi final: Wanderers v Roar

A spot in the Hyundai A-League grand final is on the line for either Western Sydney Wanderers or Brisbane Roar at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday. These two have finals history and the firepower to make this a classic.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Western Sydney Wanderers FC (2) v Brisbane Roar FC (3)

Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta

Kick-Off: 5:00pm (AEST)

Referee: Peter Green

Assistant Referee 1: Paul Cetrangolo

Assistant Referee 2: Ashley Beecham

Fourth Official: David Walsh

Additional Assistant Referee 1: Ben Williams

Additional Assistant Referee 2: Kris Griffiths-Jones

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 4.30pm (AEST), SBS TWO from 5:30pm AEST and Sky Sport Pop-Up (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 702 ABC Sydney*, 666 ABC Canberra*, 612 ABC Brisbane* Grandstand Digital (Syd, Canb & Bris)* Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live. Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio)

*Following the NRL/Super Rugby coverage

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WSWvBRI #ALFinals

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

#WSWvBRI

Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.DIMAS, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 15.Kearyn BACCUS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.ALBERTO, 18.ANDREU, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 30.Liam REDDY (gk)

**two to be omitted**

Wanderers players celebrate Jaushua Sotirio's first-half strike against the Jets.

Ins: 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (promoted), 21.Jacob PEPPER (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: Nil

Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 5.Corey BROWN, 7.CORONA, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.HENRIQUE, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Javier HERVAS, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 24.Tommy OAR, 28.Brandon BORRELLO 

**two to be omitted**

Brisbane Roar players celebrate scoring at Suncorp Stadium.

Ins: 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (promoted), 8.Steven LUSTICA (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: Nil

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

The stage is set for another blockbuster finals clash between two sides that have history at this time of the year.

Of course, Roar’s last title – back in 2014 – came at the expense of the Wanderers with Henrique’s extra-time strike handing Roar a 2-1 win in a gripping decider.

And who will ever forget 12 months earlier? Shinji Ono’s exquisite chip over Michael Theo booked the Wanderers a 2013 grand final berth in their debut season after a pulsating 2-0 semi-final win at Pirtek.

Wanderland is the scene again on Sunday as these two proud clubs write another chapter in what is becoming a special rivalry.

If we get something half as good as what we have seen in the previous clashes this season then we’re in for something special.

Wanderers fans

Each game has been open and attack-minded, with 12 goals scored from the three matches, including a five-goal thriller at Suncorp last month.

Brisbane has won two of the three and has won at Pirtek, although that came all the way back on the opening night of the season last October.

That result - and Brisbane’s incredible record in the finals - should give John Aloisi’s side a stack of confidence as they head south.

But Tony Popovic is desperate to claim the one major piece of silverware which has so far eluded him as coach of the Wanderers.

The good news is there are no major injury concerns for either side meaning they’ll both be at full strength for what should be a classic. 

OPTA DATA

  • This will be the first finals encounter between these teams since the Roar claimed the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League Grand Final with a 2-1 win over the Wanderers.
  • Brisbane Roar have won five of their last seven Hyundai A-League matches against Western Sydney, with four of those victories coming by a one-goal margin.
  • Western Sydney Wanderers have won eight and drawn two of their last 12 matches at home in the Hyundai A-League, keeping five clean sheets in that span.
  • Roar have won 11 finals matches, the most of any team in the history of the Hyundai A-League, and have won seven of their last nine.

ROUTE TO GOAL

After hitting a wall in terms of scoring late in the season, the Wanderers broke the shackles in their last two games before the finals, scoring six times.

It coincided with a promotion to the starting side for hitherto super sub Brendon Santalab.

“Santa” started both of the last two matches and scored a brace in each. He’s sure to be the man Popovic will lean on to lead the line.

Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab

It will allow Mark Bridge (nine goals) to revert back to his preferred left-wing role, and with Mitch Nichols (10) and Romeo Castelen (four), the Wanderers having an attacking quartet capable of hurting Brisbane. 

But it’s likely to be the influence of their Spanish midfield duo which could determine how threatening the Wanderers will be.

Andreu and Dimas love getting on the ball and controlling the tempo of a match. If Roar can starve them of the ball – or at least time on it – the visitors will make life much easier for themselves.

For Brisbane, it’s not hard to figure out striker Jamie Maclaren looms as their major weapon.

The Olyroo striker has scored five goals in the three meetings between the sides this season, including three goals at Wanderland.

Jamie Maclaren

His non-stop movement and pace is a nightmare for defenders to track and he’s always looking to get in behind and onto through-balls from the likes of Corona, Broich and Matt McKay.

It will be interesting to see if Aloisi sticks with Tommy Oar from the start or goes with Brandon Borrello on the right flank.

Regardless, either of those is a great impact player off the bench, along with potentially Roar’s ace-up-the-sleeve in Henrique.

With so much attacking talent on display, it promises to be an end-to-end contest packed with thrilling football and goals. Though being a finals game, expect it to be cagey early on before the drama kicks in. 

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Thomas Broich. he Brisbane veteran seems to be peaking at just the right time. His winner against Victory – a rare headed goal – got his side out of jail and continued his knack in delivering in big games. Can Broich pull something special out again to earn his side a spot in the decider?