Can Brisbane Roar make it three titles in a row? That has looked an unlikely prospect all season but suddenly the defending A-League champions have found some form.
The Roar may have easily dispatched a dreadful Sydney FC 3-1 at Suncorp Stadium last night but surely the genesis of their resurrection took place at the same venue a week earlier.
It was in the 30th minute of their clash with Melbourne Heart when German import Thomas Broich collected a pass before unleashing a venomous, swerving drive which flashed into the top corner of Andrew Redmayne’s goal.
It was Broich’s third such effort from distance in a game in which the reigning Johnny Warren medallist was particularly influential and suggested the midfield maestro may just have found some form at the right end of the season.
Broich was again outstanding last night, not that he needed to be against a Sky Blues outfit ready and willing to push the self-destruct button.
From the minute an errant Alessandro Del Piero back pass was intercepted by Broich and smashed home by Besart Berisha, there only ever looked one winner.
It’s safe to say Berisha hasn’t had quite the same impact he had on the league last season, yet the Albanian front man has scored still an impressive 14 goals this time around and he finished his opportunity emphatically from a chance that others might have squandered.
Try as they might Sydney FC just couldn’t get back in the game – though they certainly had their chances – and it was probably fitting that it was another mistake from Sebastian Ryall which cost them the match.
Of all the players you probably don’t want to misdirect a pass to, it’s Berisha, and the fiery striker made them pay as he teed up Steven Lustica for an easy finish.
Ivan Franjic scored the goal of the game – surely the versatile utility man deserves some consideration for Australia’s East Asian Championship squad? – and although Del Piero pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, Sydney FC were never in the match.
The two coaches were a picture of contrasts throughout.
Whereas the fist-pumping Mike Mulvey celebrated Franjic’s goal with his players, Frank Farina looked a scowling figure of consternation on the touchline as he watched his team turn in an error-ridden performance in the most crucial game of all.
Sydney FC fans now suffer the indignity of hoping Western Sydney beat Newcastle tomorrow to give the Sky Blues a chance of squeaking into the finals.
That could be easier said than done, particularly with Wanderers playmaker Shinji Ono joining a growing list of absentees and the Jets hoping to seal a finals position themselves.
Ultimately Sydney only have themselves to blame and after getting off to a poor start to the campaign under former coach Ian Crook, their patchy form suggests they’re unlikely to have any great say in the title race should they even make the finals.
That might not be the case with Brisbane Roar though, who have suddenly found some form just when it matters most.
And with the likes of Berisha, Broich and Franjic in form, could the Wanderers, Mariners and Victory soon find themselves battling with a new championship contender?