Where the match between JDT and Perak could be won

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Johor Southern Tigers
The top of the table clash between Johor Darul Ta'zim and Perak could decide the destiny of the Super League title, and here are 3 crucial battles.

JDT are the star-studded team but Perak are no pushovers and after more than half of the 2018 Super League season gone, the latter are the one offering the closest challenge to the reigning champions.

Tonight they face each other in what could be a winners-take-all showdown at Tan Sri Dato Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium where the stakes are higher than it is. In the last five meetings between the two sides, JDT have won twice with Perak winning one, although the Southern Tigers have won the last two matches played at home against The Bos Gaurus.

There will be plenty of individual battles going on all around the pitch, whether it is Nazmi Faiz up against Brendan Gan or Safawi Rasid facing Nazirul Naim. Goal picks out the three clashes that are likely to determine the outcome of the match.

Marcos Antonio v Gilmar da Silva Filho

With six goals in the league campaign this season, including three in his last four matches - Gilmar is the obvious big offensive threat for Perak. The Brazilian is big, strong and isn't afraid to put his big frame about. Gilmar also isn't adversed to putting in shots from distance and if presented with the space and time, will bound to add to his tally of goals.

This season has seen JDT used the likes of Fadhli Shas, Adam Nor Azlin and Aidil Zafuan in the centre of defence with Aidil the one who keeps getting the nod lately. However, in comparison any of those three are likely to be bullied by the more physical Gilmar.

In that sense, Antonio represents the best option to contain Gilmar. The burly centre back is vastly experienced as well as possessing the necessary physical attributes that can match Gilmar. With Perak looking to kick-start their attacks through direct passes to Gilmar, Antonio's ability to shackle his Brazilian counterpart could dictate the outcome of the match.

Hariss Harun v Wander Luiz

Throughout the season just like in defence, there has been plenty of changes done to the centre of JDT's midfield. However in the sea of changes that have been done, Hariss remains a constant for the Southern Tigers.

The Singaporean started the campaign slowly but has re-adapted himself to the league strongly. His ability to sense and stop dangerous situations have been pivotal to JDT's surge to the top of the table and his instincts will be put to the test against Perak and against Luiz in particular.

Gilmar may have got the goals but the mercurial Luiz is the lycnhpin of the Perak's side going forward. His left foot works like a wand and when he's in the mood, has the ability to spread the play to runners up front and in wide positions. Occupying the space just between attack and midfield, Luiz's roaming role provides a formidable challenge for Hariss to negate.

Gonzalo Cabrera v Amirul Azhan

JDT's own 6-goal man Cabrera has been the shining light in a season where JDT has struggled to find any consistency from their imports. The Argentine with an Iraqi passport, Cabrera's threat is amplified by his increasing efficiency in front of goal.

Capable of driving forward with the ball, Cabrera provides more than an useful option from his usual starting position out on the left of JDT's attacking trident. As someone who also tends to cut into the centre, it will be tough for his marker to decide whether to follow or let him on to his fellow midfielders.

That task inevitably falls at the hands of Perak's right back Amirul. The 24-year-old who has been capped by the Malaysia national team will have to be on his 100% best to ensure that Cabrera doesn't have a field day. Amirul has the pace to match Cabrera and if he is disciplined enough, also possesses the patience to shadow Cabrera for 90 minutes.

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