The second A-League grand final spot goes on the line on Sunday, with the second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers locking horns with Brisbane Roar in an absolute barnburner at Parramatta.
Wanderers: Redmayne, Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley, Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas, Castelen, Nichols, Bridge, Santalab
Roar: Young, Hingert, Donachie, North, Brown, Corona, Petratos, McKay, Oar, Maclaren, Broich
The teams have met 14 times and the ledger is squared at six wins apiece, with two matches drawn. Included in those draws in the 2014 grand final, which was locked 1-all at the end of regulation time, before the Roar went on to claim a 2-1 triumph in extra-time.
The Roar chalked up 3-1 and 3-2 victories over the Wanderers during the 2015/16 regular season either side of a 2-1 Wanderers success.
Western Sydney nabbed second spot via wins over the Mariners (4-1) and Phoenix (2-0) in the last two regular-season rounds, before enjoying a week off.
A scoreless draw with the Victory in Round 27 consigned Brisbane to third spot, but they advanced to the semis with a 2-1 triumph over the Victory in last week’s incredible elimination final, with Matt McKay scoring in the 88th minute and Thomas Broich netting a stoppage-time winner after they had fallen behind in the 86th minute.
The mercurial German, Thomas Broich, proved the match-winner for the Roar in last week’s thriller. The Wanderers will look to an Australian, club stalwart Mark Bridge, for inspirational on their home track on Sunday evening. Bridge scored WSW’s first-ever goal in 2012 and has bagged nine so far this season.
The Roar have won five of the last seven matches between the sides; the Wanderers have only won two of the last 10 – but the last four clashes have been shared two apiece. Each of their last four games have produced at least three goals. The Wanderers won three and drew one of their last five regular season games, and are unbeaten in their last three home games. The Roar are unbeaten in their last four outings, but have lost three and drawn one of their last three games on the road.
The home-ground advantage sees the Wanderers go in as pronounced favourites, but it’s impossible to ignore the Roar’s vast big-game experience. Premiers twice and runners-up once in the last five seasons, Brisbane thrive in the finals atmosphere, while their remarkable win over Melbourne last week has provided them with invaluable momentum. Whether the memories of the 2014 grand final loss with act as a motivator or a hindrance for the Wanderers is another X-factor. A packed Pirtek Stadium works in WSW’s favour, but expect the Roar to break Wanderers hearts once again and advance to the A-League decider.
Roar to win
Total Game Score Over 2.5
Correct Score – Roar 2-1
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