With no team having ever won the A-League grand final from outside the top two, the result of this match takes on extra significance.
Preview: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
Date:Sunday, February 12 Kick-off:3pm AEDT, 5pm Local Venue: Westpac Stadium
Head-to-head Played 14: Wins: Brisbane 8, Wellington 2, Draws: 4
Previous encounter Wellington 2, Brisbane 0, December 14, 2011
History: Brisbane have had the better of this fixture over the years, losing just twice in 14 previous clashes, but Wellington have enjoyed a good time of it this season.
After grabbing a draw in their first meeting at Suncorp Stadium, the Phoenix picked up a rare win against Ange Postecoglou-s side in December when a goal in each half from Paul Ifill and Nick Ward handed the Kiwi-s a well-deserved 2-0 win.
Form: Past five matches: Wellington: LWWWW Brisbane: DWDLW
Wellington have emerged as a real dark horse for the title in the last month, winning five of their last six matches. Not only are they proving hard to beat at the Cake Tin but Ricki Herbert-s side are starting to win matches on the road which makes them a very dangerous proposition.
They continue to be very hard to break down and with key players Ifill, Dani Sanchez and Tim Brown in form, are finding the net regularly as well.
Brisbane-s form hasn-t been quite so impressive but showed signs in their vital away win over league leaders Central Coast last weekend they are still very much in this competition.
The real question is whether that performance was a one-off or have they fully turned the corner. If it-s the latter then the Roar will be very confident of beating the Phoenix on their home latch and moving back into a vital top two spot.
Match Committee: Both these sides have the luxury of being relatively injury free at the moment. Given Wellington-s hot form it-s hard to see Ricki Herbert making any changes to the team that got the job done in Adelaide last weekend. The Roar are again without winger Rocky Visconte, defender Matt Jurman and midfielder Mitch Nichols on Australian under-23 duty.
Danger men: Dani Sanchez - Ifill might get most of the headlines out of New Zealand but Sanchez is proving just as vital to the Phoenix-s chances for the title.
The crafty midfielder has struck up a good partnership in the middle of the field with Kiwi international Tim Brown. Sanchez is creative, has the ability to dribble past a defender and has the eye for goal, as evidenced by his winner against the Reds last Friday night.
Thomas Broich - A-League rivals of the Brisbane Roar should be afraid, very afraid. After finally getting back on the field a couple of weeks ago after a long lay-off with injury, the German maestro looks to be back to full match fitness and right on his game. Despite being out for half the season Broich is still second in the league for assists and it should come as no surprise that Besart Berisha is back amongst the goals again with the playmaker back in the Roar midfield.
At the end of the day… The best thing about the A-League heading into the last few rounds of the season is that almost every match will have an impact on the make-up of the finals....and none more so than this fixture on Sunday. This looms as the match of the weekend due to the importance of the result for both sides, with the winner to take pole position for second spot and a double chance in the finals.
The luxury the Phoenix have had for most of the year is that being on the other side of the ditch they have very much gone about their business quietly, with not too many experts considering them for the title. Well Wellington can no longer fly under the radar with the Kiwi side the hottest team in the league and being talked about as a championship threat. That type of talk brings with it a different pressure and expectation and how Herbert gets his players to handle that will be a key for their chances.
The Roar are one side that know all about that kind of pressure which is why despite their patchy form, no one has dared to write them off. The loss of Nichols to national team duty is a blow but their key players seem to be coming back to form just at the right time. With no team having ever won the A-League grand final from outside the top two, the result of this match takes on extra significance. With so much at stake neither side will want to lose, so a draw would seem the most likely result.