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Garcia & Griffiths at heart of Glory's defensive transformation

Goal.com logo Goal.com 26-04-2017

The experienced combination of captain Rostyn Griffiths and ex-skipper Richard Garcia in central midfield could be Perth Glory's formula for A-League success as they prepare to face Sydney FC.

Glory defeated Melbourne City 2-0 in last week's elimination final to set up a semi-final clash with the Sky Blues on Saturday night, with Perth registering just their fourth clean sheet of the campaign.

Perth had finished the A-League regular season level with Newcastle Jets as the worst defensive team in the competition having let in 53 goals in 27 games.

But up against a City attack that had scored four goals the week previous - Glory had won 5-4 at nib Stadium - Perth kept the likes of Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill scoreless to move within one match of the 2017 A-League grand final.

Andy Keogh, Perth Glory

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Asked what had changed, Glory striker Andy Keogh highlighted the performance of Griffiths and Garcia.

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"Richie Garcia's come in with the captain 'Griffo' - that's a two that's not been played before," the Irishman said.

"Lucian [Goian] is finding his feet, Dino [Djulbic] had an excellent game getting man of the match.

"'Wazza' [Marc Warren] has come in and done great. You know, people have been on his back before but we thought it was one of his best performances of the season.

"He got [Bruce] Kamau dragged [at half-time] and what more can you ask? Their most dangerous winger getting dragged and our full-back having to come off with cramp because he's worked that hard."

Djulbic: Glory's defence was a big focus

Garcia had to wait until the start of March for his first A-League appearance in his third season with his hometown club.

Perth coach Kenny Lowe started 2016-17 with Griffiths and Brandon Wilson as his preferred central midfield combination, with Rhys Williams, the now-departed Milan Smiljanic and Mitch Oxborrow just some of the others to have started in the middle of the park.

Garcia, 35, has started in Glory's last four games as the men in purple have gone undefeated in that period, and he did a fine job in screening Perth's back four alongside 29-year-old Griffiths in Melbourne.

Perth must now turn their attention to the premiers.

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"Of course we have what it takes [to beat Sydney]," Keogh said.

"We've lost three in fourteen [ed. 19] or something like that, we're one of the form teams in the competition just behind Sydney, so it should be a great game."

Sydney will host Glory at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

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