thumbnail Hello,

Goal Australia examines the key individual battles to determine where Sunday's A-League grand final will be won and lost

Thomas Broich v Jerome Polenz

Broich will know by now to pack his thickest pair of shin pads in preparation for going up against Polenz on Sunday evening. If Munich-born Broich, nicknamed 'Mozart' by team-mates at SV Wacker Burghausen for his intellectual leanings, is the hip, free-thinking image of a confident modern Germany, then Polenz - born in East Berlin three years before the Wall came down - resembles, as a player at least, the tough, uncompromising image of the DDR.

Similarities with the ruthless communist regime are purely coincidental. Polenz was born to an Algerian father and raised in the unified Federal Republic. Perhaps that eclectic heritage represents the new Germany more than Bavarian Broich?

But Polenz certainly plays with a mean streak, having picked up eight yellow cards this season and perhaps been fortunate not to see red on several occasions in his 21 appearances.

He faces a tough task shackling Broich, who is an expert at holding the ball up and winning free kicks, and may need some help from one of Mateo Poljak or more likely fellow tough nut Iacopo La Rocca.

The Wanderers must be careful not to commit too many players to shutting down the Roar's playmaker for fear of leaving central midfield exposed.

Luke Brattan v Shinji Ono

Brattan has flourished in 2013-14, developing into the league's most consistent holding midfielder, along with Adelaide United newcomer Isaias Sanchez. Charged with both shutting down opposition attacks and starting his own side's, the 24-year-old has attempted more passes and more tackles than any other Roar player, and also leads the team for clearances.

His importance to the premiers presents Tony Popovic with a conundrum. Should the Wanderers boss instruct his most-advanced midfielder, Shinji Ono, to attempt to disrupt Brattan's game? If the Japanese marquee leaves the dirty work to La Rocca and Poljak, they are could be overrun by the hard-working Matt McKay and Liam Miller, with Broich also able to drop deep, tuck inside and overload the centre.

Besart Berisha v Nikola Topor-Stanley & Matthew Spiranovic

With Broich occupying Polenz and one of injury-doubt Dimitri Petratos or his likely replacement Henrique occupying Adam D'Apuzzo, who must also contend with the overlapping runs of Ivan Franjic, it will fall to the Wanderers' centre-backs to try and keep Berisha quiet.

The Albanian had something a subdued match against Melbourne Victory, but his opportunistic goal ultimately proved to be the difference between two evenly matched teams. He had little right to expect to score from where the decisive move started, but showed enough guile to prevent Nick Ansell from executing a saving tackle, and stuck the shot well enough to beat Nathan Coe at the goalkeeper's near post.

Berisha has scored the opening goal in the first two meetings between the Roar and the Wanderers this season, a 3-1 home win for Mike Mulvey's men in November and a 1-1 draw in Parramatta in February.

His missed the second 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium early last month through suspension, and there's no doubt the absence of one of the A-League's deadliest marksmen afforded Topor-Stanley and Spiranovic an much easier ride than they would otherwise have received.

Aside from his off-the-ball movement and ability to shoot from range, Berisha's nimble feet inside the area - and his capacity to gone down convincingly - should be a major concern for the Wanderers stoppers.

Related

From the web