You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

New WSW-Roar A-League chapter looms

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/04/2016 Emma Kemp

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic knows there's A-League finals history with Brisbane, he's well aware of his own side's perfect home record and he can see the grand final carrot dangling seductively.

But Sunday's semi-final showdown isn't about him, or statistics, or even revenge for that heartbreaking 2013-14 decider.

"It's about two teams desperate to make the grand final," Popovic said.

"That's what we're all here for tomorrow.

"It'll be down to who executes the best on the day, and we want that to be us."

The stage is set at Pirtek Stadium for another enthralling chapter in the Wanderers-Roar finals tale.

The story started at the 2012-13 semi, when Shinji Ono scored a gem at Parramatta to help send the Wanderers to an inaugural season-decider.

Twelve months later, Henrique famously struck in extra-time at Suncorp Stadium to claim their second title and send Western Sydney to a second consecutive grand-final loss.

Now, having each endured their own testing periods, both teams are back at the top of their games - and there's not much between them.

The second-placed Wanderers finished the regular season ahead of the Roar only on goal difference, while each has adopted a Spanish influence and plays a fluid, attacking style.

"We've had some great battles with them since our inception and we expect tomorrow to be no different," Popovic said.

"Johnny and Ross (Aloisi) have done a very good job at Brisbane, they've got some real experienced players who know what it takes in this league and they've won a lot of big games.

"But we believe we've done the same in our short history.

"We've had some fantastic moments at our stadium in front of our fans.

"Tomorrow is another opportunity for us to win another big game. That's what we plan to do."

The Wanderers' home record is formidable - across the A-League and Asian Champions League, they've never conceded a goal in six knockout-phase games.

Of their three home semis, they have won all 2-0, including that 2012-13 contest against Brisbane.

The Roar will have to reverse an unimpressive away record with just three wins this campaign, though one of those was a round-one 3-1 defeat of Western Sydney.

Both outfits boast fully fit squads and the visitors' undeniable threat is Jamie Maclaren, who has put five goals past Popovic's men this season and they will need to contain collectively.

But intrigue still surrounds whether Popovic will start Mark Bridge or super-sub Brendon Santalab in the No.9 role, and who out of Liam Reddy or Andrew Redmayne will be goalkeeper.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* This will be the first finals encounter between these teams since Brisbane clinched the 2013-14 grand final 2-1

* The Roar have won five of their past seven matches against Western Sydney, four by a one-goal margin

* The Wanderers have won eight and drawn two of their past 12 home matches, keeping five clean sheets

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon