A top-two finish is on the line at nib Stadium, with both sides coming off tough victories in Week 20. There are more than three points on the line in this clash.
Risdon, Pantelidis, Van den Brink, Heffernan
Dodd, Hughes, Burns, Sterjovski
Franjic, Smith, Adnan, Stefanutto
Nakajima-Ferran, Paartalu, NicholsHenrique, Berisha, Fitzgerald
With both the Perth Glory and the Brisbane Roar coming off hard-fought wins, Saturday's second-versus-third battle could determine the positions of several other teams in the A-League finals race.
The match is what many would call a six-pointer. If the Roar win, Perth's top-two hopes are gone. If Perth prevails, it will leave them just a point behind Brisbane and give them a shot at a second chance in the finals.
Perth Glory's hopes were bolstered with a key victory over Newcastle last Saturday. Perth had to fight for their 2-0 result but again showed how far the side has come. Goals from Adam Hughes and Billy Mehmet at the start of each half took care of the result.
Hughes came off the bench after only 12 minutes after Liam Miller injured his hamstring. He will be unavailable for this match, giving Hughes a starting spot he deserves after scoring and having a shot deflected onto the post. Mehmet will continue up front in the absence of injured star Shane Smeltz.
Josh Mitchell return to the Glory squad after injury, and it will be intriguing to see if coach Ian Ferguson wants to change a winning side.
Brisbane saw off Melbourne Victory 3-2 at Suncorp Stadium, where even some Harry Kewell magic could not stop the Roar. Brisbane attacker Mitch Nichols returned and was influential, linking well with fellow forwards Henrique and Besart Berisha. Berisha scored twice to celebrate inking a new two-year deal with the Roar.
In a blow to the Roar, however, key playmaker Thomas Broich is missing due to a shoulder injury, and midfield workhorse Massimo Murdocca is also likely to be absent because of the birth of his first child. It could mean promotions for Nick Fitzgerald and Issey Nakajima-Farran, who impressed when coming on for a limited period against the Victory. It highlights the depth the Roar has coming into the finals.
A win will cement second place for the Roar and pile more pressure on the Mariners going into the final four weeks in the race for the Premiers Plate.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Ivan Franjic, Michael Theoklitos, Shane Stefanutto and Erik Paartalu have started every match this season.
- On Tuesday, Erik Paartalu earned his first call up to the Socceroos squad for their fixture against Saudi Arabia.
- Perth have a dismal record against the Roar, winning three, losing 12 and drawing seven in their 22 matches in the A-League.
- Brisbane will miss the presence of Thomas Broich, who second most assists in the league with five. No Glory player has over two assists.
- Besart Berisha has double the goals of anyone else in his side. He has 15, while the next highest is Mitch Nichols, with seven.