Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) take on Perak in the second leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-final and if the first leg is any indication, the fans at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium are in for a treat.
It was a keenly fought contest in the first leg at Perak Stadium where both sides took turns to have the upper hand in what was an open game. Both goalkeepers, Hafizul Hakim and Izham Tarmizi were called into action plenty of times in Ipoh and things are unlikely to change in the second leg.
With Perak needing to find an away goal of their own and JDT hoping to impress in front of their adoring fans, the match is set to be played in an attacking mode from both parties. Goal look at where the battles are and where the match could be won.
Junior Eldstal v Gilmar Filho
The Brazilian Gilmar is the top scorer in the Malaysia Cup this season but his performance in the first leg was far from his usual self. While it was his pass was the one that led to the opening goal for Perak, Gilmar's decision making in other moves were less than convincing. The same could also be said of JDT's Junior who was a bundle of nerves in the first leg. Both players are likely to face each other again in the second leg and if the Perak striker can win the physical battle against Junior, Perak may yet find the elusive away goal that they seek.
Fazly Mazlan v Nasir Basharuddin
After Hasbullah Abu Bakar's horror show in Ipoh, the youngster is expected to be replaced by the more experienced Fazly at left back. Nasir showed that he had the engine and desire to keep making runs on the right hand side, which tormented Hasbullah. The scenario is unlikely to be repeated if Fazly takes to the field. In a pure battle of pace, Fazly is expected to emerge as the winner and his forays forward could also ensure that Nasir has little opportunity to show his worth in the attacking sense.
Ignacio 'Natxo' Insa v Kenny Pallraj
The mercurial Insa has been a revelation since his first match for JDT, quickly emerging as one of the best midfielders playing in the country. He had a rather subdued performance in the first leg but is more than capable to come to life in the second leg. Insa's ability to find space for himself whether with or without the ball will make all the difference in JDT's ability to move the ball forward. The younger Kenny will need to show his stamina to track Insa and ensure that the JDT midfielder does not get the time nor the space to dictate play.
Gabriel Guerra v Nazirul Naim
Often much vaunted when in national colours, Nazirul shows a different side of him when playing for Perak. The left back clearly had the upper hand in the first encounter, keeping Guerra fairly quiet throughout the match. Guerra found Nazirul to be a tough nut to crack and often times, could only relay the ball back to his midfielder rather than utilising his dribbling abilities. Should Nazirul win the second 90 minutes again, JDT will be left cut out from one of their usual attacking outlets.
Mohammed Ghaddar v Thiago Aquino
The Perak centre back was the internet sensation after his performance in the first leg drew plenty of praise. His poorly bandaged head became the talk of the town but his performance on the pitch kept Perak in the hunt many a times. It was only when Thiago had to go off to be treated that Ghaddar managed to exploit the uncertainty in Perak's defence to score the vital away goal. Provided a similar situation doesn't get repeated, Ghaddar will face plenty of trouble trying to shake off the monstrous presence of Thiago.