Roar v Wanderers: 3 key match ups

Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers have dished up some cracking games this season and the next instalment on Friday night should be another beauty.

We take a look at the three big match-ups which could determine who prevails in a cracking start to Round 22 of the Hyundai A-League at Suncorp Stadium.

Roar’s holding midfielder Corona v Wanderers star Andreu

What a battle this promises to be between two of the Hyundai A-League’s pass masters.

Your Hyundai A-League club's fixture run-in

Roar’s Spanish sensation has proved to be a brilliant addition to the competition and a vital component to Brisbane’s fluent passing style.

Never ruffled in possession and with loads of class, Corona’s pinpoint and assured passing has suited Roar’s game to a tee.

Roar midfielder Corona celebrates after putting his side 3-0 up against the Mariners.

He has made 1400 passes so far this campaign at an accuracy rate of over 80 percent. It’s allowed the likes of Borrello, Maclaren, McKay and Petratos to shine.

And what about his set-pieces? His delivery has been superb, leading to two assists.

It’s no coincidence Roar’s struggles of late have come since Corona’s form has dipped slightly as opposition sides look to stifle his impact.

But a title-defining clash against his compatriot is sure to muster a lift in performance and output. And he will have to against the brilliance of Andreu.

While Bridge, Nichols, Santalab and Castelen have generated most of the Wanderers headlines, this special Spaniard is an unsung hero of their rise to the top.

He demands the ball anywhere on the pitch and there seems to be a calmness from the rest of the Western Sydney side when he’s in possession.

Andreu has made less passes than Corona – only 1035 – but his accuracy is at an exceptional 84 percent meaning he very rarely gives the ball away.

Wanderer Andreu and Adelaide United's Jimmy Jeggo in a tussle for the ball at Pirtek Stadium.

His distribution and organisation in front of the back four is a major factor why so many of the Wanderers players are having arguably career-best campaigns.

And his defensive game is also underrated, with 42 interceptions, 34 tackles and 103 ball recoveries for the season.

It’s anyone’s guess who will win this one-on-one contest but whoever does might just get their side over the line.

Roar attacker Henrique v Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab

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Two of the competitions leading contenders are in action on Friday night with Roar’s ‘Slippery Fish’ going up against the experienced Wanderers front-man.

The dynamic duo have been crucial to their side’s success so far in 2015/16.

All but one of Santalab’s 15 appearances have been as a substitute. And his scoring record has been phenomenal.

Brendon Santalab has been in sensational form for Western Sydney Wanderers over the past month.

In total, Santa has been on the pitch for just 321 minutes this season and scored six goals, an average of a goal every 53 minutes. How good is that?

He’s a big reason why the Red and Black are top of the league, with his last four goals coming in the 85th minute or later.

It’s helped the club pick up some crucial points, scoring winners against the Mariners, City and Glory as well as a last-minute equaliser away at Victory.

That’s seven points the Wanderers wouldn’t have had without Santalab’s contribution.  

Henrique has been just as important for Roar. While he has started seven times from his 16 appearances, his best work has been done off the bench.

The Brazilian-born winger also has six goals to his name from just 14 shots on goal. A superb conversion rate.

Henrique

But it’s not just his goals which are important for Brisbane. Henrique can also play out wide, with his pace able to stretch defenders and open up spaces and chances for team-mates.

While he started in the loss to Adelaide last week, expect coach John Aloisi to re-call Thomas Broich and push Henrique back to the bench for this one.

So which one of these two impact weapons will have the final say at Suncorp?

Roar striker Jamie Maclaren v Wanderers defender Alberto Aguilar

Maclaren has been a revelation is his first season at Roar, thriving under the influence of Aloisi.

Always earmarked as a playing with lots of potential at Perth Glory, he’s living up to it this season with 12 goals from his 17 appearances.

And he enjoys playing the Wanderers, scoring three times from the two games the sides have played in 2015/16.

Roar players celebrate Jamie Maclaren's goal in their 4-0 win over the Mariners.

No wonder Maclaren – a nominee for the NAB Young Player of the Year award – is considered a bolter for the Socceroos FIFA World Cup qualifiers later this month.

His pace is sure to trouble Western Sydney, who like to play a high line and if they get their timing of Maclaren will spring the offside trap.

The man who will try and keep him quiet on Friday night will be another Spaniard in Alberto.

Going about his business with a minimum of fuss, the 31-year-old has been the perfect partner to skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley in the heart of defence.

Alberto’s game has it all. He’s strong in the tackle, reads the game exceptionally well and is an astute passer.

Alberto Aguilar (Wanderers) - Didn’t give Victory’s Berisha a sniff, the Spaniard coming up with crucial tackles and interceptions at vital times.

His defensive stats make for good reading as well, with 62 interceptions, 37 clearances and 24 tackles won.

If anyone has the nous to put the shackles on Maclaren then Alberto appears the man most likely.