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Profiles of the A-League grand finalists

NZN 6/05/2017 Emma Kemp and Ben McKay

SYDNEY FC

LIKELY STARTING XI

DANNY VUKOVIC: A record 16 clean sheets and 12 goals conceded says enough. Yes, the veteran gloveman is protected by the league's sturdiest defence but Vukovic's calm head got him a Socceroos recall and A-League goalkeeper of the year award for a reason.

RHYAN GRANT: An overlapping right-back with a big engine and all-in approach to challenges, Grant is a man-marking nightmare. Has transitioned seamlessly from jack of all trades to master of one.

ALEX WILKINSON: Sydney's minister for defence marshals the backline with such authority he makes Sydney's lockout laws look lenient. Tactical nous and vast big-game experience make Wilkinson invaluable.

JORDY BUIJS: A central defensive rock and dead-ball specialist. The Dutchman has only been around since January but is already a vocal leader. Can also roam forward, as per his stunning semi-final goal.

MICHAEL ZULLO: Back on track physically and in consistent form. A fitting left-back replacement for departed Alex Gersbach, Zullo links well upfield and quietly achieves at the back.

JOSH BRILLANTE: The modern water-carrier with a taste for an occasional wonder goal. Anticipates play and snuffs out attacks while using technical skills to evade pursuers and pick the right passes.

BRANDON O'NEILL: Brillante's central-midfield partner in crime and another unsung hero of Sydney's success. Boasting an 83 per cent passing accuracy, the 23-year-old is a model of consistency.

MILOS NINKOVIC: The man Victory must nullify to even have a chance. The Johnny Warren Medallist is Sydney's attacking fulcrum with 11 assists and nine goals. Carl Valeri and company will have their hands full keeping the Serbian in check.

FILIP HOLOSKO: Despite an on and off season the marquee winger still has eight goals and four assists. Set to play a longer role in the likely absence of injured bench weapon Bernie Ibini.

ALEX BROSQUE: In a rich late-career purple patch, Sydney's skipper leads from the front. After overcoming his hamstring issues, the 33-year-old has rolled back the years with 11 goals - his highest single-season haul.

BOBO: Has led the line superbly in his debut season with 15 goals to prove it. In the box, and particularly in the air, is where the Brazilian poacher thrives.

SUBSTITUTES

ANDREW REDMAYNE: Made just one appearance in Vukovic's absence since joining from Western Sydney in January.

MILOS DIMITRIJEVIC: Given few starts this season but reminds coach Graham Arnold of his quality at every opportunity.

DAVID CARNEY: Versatile and reliable anywhere on the left side - and indeed the right if it comes to that.

MATT SIMON: A fuse waiting to blow, the impact striker can change a game late with his aggressive, no-holds-barred approach.

GEORGE BLACKWOOD: Potential replacement for Ibini after the winger was ruled out. If Arnold favours a defensive option, Seb Ryall may take this spot.

MELBOURNE VICTORY

LIKELY STARTING XI

LAWRENCE THOMAS: The 24-year-old played in the 2015 grand final win but has finally enjoyed a full campaign as the club's first-choice goalkeeper, and has enjoyed a strong season with eight clean sheets.

JASON GERIA: Hasn't kicked on since a Socceroos cap last June but will get the nod to mark Sydney FC captain Alex Brosque on Sunday.

ALAN BARO: Had the biggest shoes to fill after replacing title-winning centre back Matthieu Delpierre and the Spaniard has performed admirably. Superb in Victory's semi-final win.

JAMES DONACHIE: The ex-Brisbane centre back has emerged triumphant from a season-long battle with Nick Ansell to grab a spot in the heart of the defence. Loves a battle.

DANIEL GEORGIEVSKI: The Australian-born Macedonia international's last game in navy blue before joining Newcastle Jets. With strong attacking and aggressive tendencies, he'll need to walk the right side of that fine line.

CARL VALERI: When Valeri is in form, so are Victory. Valeri is the club's metronomic midfield man and will play a key role combating Sydney's attack and springing his club forward.

LEIGH BROXHAM: The tenacious midfielder could be tasked with minding Ninkovic but isn't purely a shut-down man, with an underrated passing ability.

JAMES TROISI: Like Marco Rojas, has returned to Victory and recaptured top form under previous mentor Kevin Muscat. Dazzles with the ball at his feet and nimbly combines midfield work with an eye for goal.

FAHID BEN KHALFALLAH: A confidence player and thankfully for Victory, on song heading in to his last game for the club. The fan-favourite can produce when needed - exhibit A being his pinpoint assist in the semi-final.

MARCO ROJAS: The A-League's most talented player? The winger isn't called the Kiwi Messi for nothing. Has an ability to turn nothing in to something - and no player has been involved in more goals this season than Rojas.

BESART BERISHA: What possibly needs to be said about Berisha? Has won three titles in his five previous A-League campaigns. Has scored in each of those grand finals. Picked up another golden boot this year. A match-winner.

SUBSTITUTES

MATT ACTON: Just one appearance after a being drafted in from Filipino football after an injury to Victory No.2 Alastair Bray.

NICK ANSELL: Likely to be the edged out as the unlucky third central defender vying for two places.

RASHID MAHAZI: Previously unloved by the Victory faithful but has impressed when called upon in midfield this season.

MITCH AUSTIN: Raw and unpredictable. The ex-Central Coast winger started the season well but has lost out to the more experienced Ben Khalfallah.

JAI INGHAM: The one-time model is a Muscat favourite, possessing speed and a canny knack of impacting matches. Will run at tired legs.

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