Classic A-League Grand Final just what is needed
The excitement ahead of this weekend’s Grand Final clash between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory has been subdued but few previous clashes have offered as much intrigue and as big of an opportunity to silence the sport’s doubters.
When over 50,000 people cram into Suncorp Stadium on Sunday for the A-League’s seventh title decider hopes for a classic will be high, and the need for one perhaps bigger than ever before.
Few seasons have witnessed as much drama as season 2011-2012, from welcoming back Socceroos’ stars Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton to facing open revolt from club owners. The good news is this weekend’s clash has the potential to show all that is good about the competition.
Of the past six A-League finals three have been decided by one nil victories but this clash has the potential to be a more high scoring occasion.
In Brisbane and Perth’s three clashes this season 13 goals have been scored. The worry for the Glory is that they have been on the receiving end of most of the goals with the Roar having scored 10 times against them.
Perhaps just as worrying for Perth is that despite facing the best defence in the league in Central Coast over two legs in the Preliminary Finals, Brisbane scored five goals to demonstrate their attacking threat.
However, Perth was also able to demonstrate their own attacking capabilities scoring seven goals in their three finals series matches.
The tactical battle will determine whether the potential for goals is realised. Perth coach Ian Ferguson will have to decide whether to stick with the impressive front two of Shane Smeltz and Billy Mehmet or to drop one in favour of bringing in an extra midfielder to avoid being overrun in midfield.
His decision may well be guided by whether Perth plan to press high or sit off and remain compact to avoid being picked off by the Roar’s impressive passing game. If they plan to win the ball back high up the pitch he may go with two up front but if he plans to congest the midfield and sit deep midfielder Steven McGarry may come back into the starting 11.
For the Brisbane Roar, boss Ange Postecoglou has shown a willingness to change the shape of his side throughout the season, and his biggest choice may be whether to go with three at the back or four.
By playing three central defenders there would be cover to deal with the aerial threat of Mehmet and the one-on-one opportunities for the Glory front two to hit them on the break would be reduced.
However, with both Glory full-backs eager to get forward Postecoglou would risk being overloaded in wide areas and would have to ask likely wingers Thomas Broich and Henrique to track back denting their attacking threat.
There is also the issue of fatigue that may play a role in this match. Perth has been forced into extra time in their last two games whilst Brisbane played just last night in a 2-1 midweek loss to Ulsan Hyundai in their Asian Champions League match. Whoever recovers the best from their recent exertions may be the team that lifts the A-League trophy.
The A-League is need of final that reflects the quality that has been displayed on the pitch this season. Both teams are capable of doing so and hopefully those who questioned the competition will be eating humble pie on Sunday after a classic match.
Follow me on Twitter @beaubusch
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