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Maclaren versus Santalab: who will fire?

NZN 21/04/2017 Emma Kemp

Brisbane Roar's youthful goal machine versus an evergreen Wanderers ace 11 years his senior.

The joint golden-boot winner against Western Sydney's all-time top-scorer.

An up-and-coming Socceroos forward taking on an in-form 34-year-old who is still attracting calls to be included in the national squad.

With everything on the line at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, will it be Jamie Maclaren or Brendon Santalab firing their side in to the A-League semi-finals?

Statistics suggest both will play a central role.

Maclaren, the league's hottest off-contract player, scored 19 goals this season to share the golden boot with Besart Berisha.

Santalab notched 14, though from six less appearances and all in open play, whereas five of Maclaren's goals were penalties.

Boding well for the Roar is the 23-year-old Maclaren has eight goals from his last seven games against the Wanderers.

Yet Tony Popovic's men haven't lost a single match this season when Santalab has been on the scoreboard.

The heavily managed Santalab also possesses a far superior goal rate, scoring every 76.3 minutes compared to Maclaren's one every 110.5 minutes.

Fox Sports commentator and former National Soccer League striker Andy Harper described the marksmen as similarly sharp in both intelligence and movement, assets complemented by a deadly instinct for goal.

The deciding factor may therefore lie not so much in personal attributes but how much their respective teams rely on them.

"While both are very dangerous players, Brisbane look like they can score without Maclaren more so than the Wanderers look like they can score without Santalab," Harper told AAP.

"Without Brendon leading the Wanderers line it's a very blunt instrument.

"Whereas Brisbane, even though Jamie is their main goalscorer, look more dangerous around the park."

The other key element for Harper was the pair's relative danger from distance, along with the impact of playmaking counterparts Brett Holman and Nicolas Martinez.

"Brisbane are a lot more dangerous further out from goal because of Maclaren," he said.

"Whereas Brendon doesn't provide that danger away but is certainly as, if not more, dangerous inside the box because of his strike-rate and the way the Wanderers play."

JAMIE MACLAREN V BRENDON SANTALAB

GOALS:

* Maclaren - 19 goals (5 penalties) from 26 games (23 starts)

* Santalab - 14 goals (0 penalties) from 20 games (11 starts)

MINUTES PER GOAL:

* Maclaren - one every 110.5 minutes

* Santalab - one every 76.3 minutes

SHOTS:

* Maclaren - 79 - 4.16 shots per goal (24.1 per cent)

* Santalab - 37 - 2.64 shots per goal (37.9 per cent)

INFLUENCE ON RESULTS:

* When Maclaren scores - 9 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses

* When Santalab scores - 6 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses

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