The top two sides on the A-League Ladder go head to head on Friday night as Western Sydney Wanderers host Brisbane Roar in a replay of last season’s Grand Final Qualifier. The Roar go into the match with a seven point lead over the Wanderers. A win for the home side will set up an exciting fight for the minor premiership, while a Roar victory will surely set them on the way to the title.
The Wanderers have been inconsistent of late, which is not something that could have been said of them at any stage of the previous 12 months or so. Having got themselves into a winning position against Newcastle last week they let the lead slip, which will have hurt a team who have always built their game around a strong defence.
Matthew Spiranovic has played in midfield recently but might move back to the centre of defence against the Roar, meaning club captain Michael Beauchamp may be forced out of the side again. Beauchamp is becoming something of a focal point in regards to Tony Popovic’s rotation policy, and the skipper himself has admitted publically that he has found the situation challenging – particularly as he is out of contract in May.
There is also uncertainty surrounding the future of other key players such as Yousouf Hersi and Aaron Mooy, and Shinji Ono has already announced his departure at seasons end. Popovic may well find that maintaining team spirit is the most difficult obstacle to overcome as his side look for more silverware this season
Brisbane skipper Matt McKay is still injured and will miss this crucial showdown at Pirtek Stadium. Steven Lustica has returned to the Roar after a short spell in Adelaide, and may find himself pushed straight into the squad. The Roar have not been at their best in their last two games but showed fighting spirit to come from behind in both to win. They will need to demonstrate those qualities again if they are to prevent the Wanderers taking a bite out of their lead on the table.
Friday 7th February, Pirtek Stadium Parramatta 19:30
Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar