Who will win the A-League grand final?

May 02, 2014
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Great teams win a lot of games, but champion teams win the ones that matter.

It’s an old cliché that will hold true this weekend as the table-topping Brisbane Roar take on last year’s runners up Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League grand final.

But it’s not the only cliché we can pull out of this weekend’s match up, which bears all the hallmarks of a great Hollywood-like sporting screenplay. The consistent favourites versus the redemption-seeking underdogs, that is.

The seasoned veterans versus the new kids on the block. Northerners versus Southerners. State against state. A clash that will, undoubtedly, please a great deal of Australian football fans.

The Roar dodged a bullet in last week’s 1-0 semi-final against Melbourne Victory, after an ambiguous moment in the penalty box late in the second half narrowly went their way.

The Wanderers, on the other hand, showed no signs of balking during a confident 2-0 win over defending champions the Central Coast Mariners, off the back of an even more convincing 5-0 win over Guizhou Renhe in the Asian Champions League just days earlier.

Yet knocking a former foe out of title contention won’t be enough for Tony Popovic’s men, who will be looking to win their first grand final after just two seasons in the competition.

Who deserves it more?

Fights will be picked over water coolers and schooner glasses this week as to who is the most ‘deserving’ team.

The Roar has undoubtedly been the best week-in-week-out team in the regular season, with more than a few dominant victories. As far as the 10-year-old A-League goes, they’re old hands.

Brisbane fans will argue that the Premier’s Plate holders, who finished the season 10 points ahead on the ladder, deserve the major title after a very consistent season.

But then we have the Wanderers, who in their debutant season fell one glass slipper short of a fairytale in their grand final loss to the Mariners last year.

Hoards of red and black fans will be hoping that their team can be the Wicked Witch of the West in quelling the perfect end to an almost perfect season for their opponents.

What can we expect?

The two B’s – that’s Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich – will be imperative in Brisbane’s attacks and possibly fatal for Western Sydney.

A-League player of the year Broich hasn’t missed a minute of the season, and we can expect him to set up a number of plays for striker Berisha.

Berisha has been the opening scorer in both games against the Wanderers this season, the first of which resulted in a 3-1 win, and the other a 1-1 draw.

While Popovic has denied that his defenders will specifically target the pair, he’ll know that giving them too much space will spell disaster for his squad.

The Wanderers coach has given striker Mark Bridge a “50/50 chanceâ€Ã‚ of playing after injuring his ankle in last week’s clash.

The prospects are looking better for rising Roar attacker Dimitri Petratos, who’ll more than likely suit up for his side despite some ankle swelling this week, according to coach Mike Mulvey.

Brisbane’s defenders will also need to shut down key Japanese import Shinji Ono as he looks to end his A-League career on the ultimate high.

Overall, it’ll be a thrilling clash set to be played to a sell-out crowd of mostly orange shirts at Brisbane’s Suncorp stadium, but we can still expect a pocket travelling Wanderers fans to bring out their usual loud, fanatic chants.

It’ll be tight – really tight – and we could see the game forced into extra time and possibly even the dreaded penalty shoot out. But one thing’s for sure: the eventual victors will become so by a very, very small margin.

Maybe it’s the sucker for a great sporting fairytale in me talking – but with their drive, their motivations, and their form in recent weeks – I’m tipping the Wanderers to win 2-1.

Danika Wilkinson

Danika Wilkinson is a fifth year Journalism-International Studies student at UTS and is constantly covered in football-boot inflicted bruises. Danika Tweets at @danikawilkinson.

Image: Football Federation Australia