Preview: Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar

When coaches talk about playing 'six-pointers', these are the type of games they are talking about.

Date: Sunday, February 10, 2013 Kick-off: 5pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Head-to-head: Played 24: Wins: Sydney 6, Roar 10, Draws: 8

Previous encounter: Brisbane 4-2 Sydney FC, November 16, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: DWWLD Roar: LLLWD

The Game: When coaches talk about playing 'six-pointers', these are the type of games they are talking about. The two clubs are locked together on 21 competition points with only goal difference seeing Brisbane in sixth spot with Sydney two places further back.

With just two finals spots left to fight for, a win in this clash is vital to both sides' top six aspirations. The form guide doesn't give a great indication into which team will have the edge with both notching a win, a draw and a loss in their past three games.

The Sky Blues will be without skipper Terry McFlynn and striker Joel Griffiths (both suspended) but they do have the luxury of welcoming back some key players. Socceroos midfielders Brett Emerton and Jason Culina both return from injury while defenders Fabio and Tiago Calvano are available again after serving one-game bans.

Brisbane's line-up is a lot more settled and coach Mike Mulvey may be tempted to include new signing Stefan Nijland from the start after he impressed off the bench against the Central Coast last weekend. The two sides have met once this season with the Roar running out convincing 4-2 winners at Suncorp Stadium.

The big issue: Sydney - Sky Blues boss Frank Farina faces a tough decision with his line-up heading into this one. While it's important to have your most experienced players on board for such big games, there is a risk to bring the likes of Emerton and Culina straight back if they are struggling with their fitness or carrying an injury. Youngsters like Peter Triantis and Terry Antonis did a strong job against the Jets last week and would be unlucky to miss out in this one. Farina must decide whether he goes all-out with his potentially underdone stars or sticks with youth to try and topple the Roar.

Roar - While Brisbane's results have been terribly inconsistent this season, they have still managed to produce some attractive, free-flowing football in most of their matches. But the Roar has constantly been brought undone by simple concentration lapses - particularly in defence - at vital stages of matches. It's something that has cost them plenty of points throughout the campaign and they will need to stamp out if they are to stay in the finals race.

The game breaker: Besart Berisha - The Albanian striker loves playing against the Sky Blues and has scored against them in the past two clashes between the clubs. After a slow start to the season, plagued by a nagging abdominal injury, Berisha has slowly found his scoring touch again in recent weeks. If Sydney's defence - which has been porous throughout the season - has another off night then Berisha is sure to pounce.

Prediction: Sydney 2-2 Brisbane These sides are level on points which makes this match probably the hardest of the round to predict. One hand the Roar have a strong record against Sydney, losing only six times in 24 meetings and they've won their past two clashes at Allianz Stadium. But the Sky Blues are beginning to turn their home patch in to a bit of a fortress again, winning the past three games on the trot in front of their home fans. What does that mean? It should be close, hard fought and with a few goals but a draw seems the most likely outcome.