Breanna Holden's Semi Finals preview: WSW v BRI

by Breanna Holden on Apr 24, 2016

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Semi-Final 2
Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
Sunday 24, Pirtek Stadium
Kick-Off: 5:00pm

The rivalry between Western Sydney and Brisbane heats up at Wanderland as they two once again go toe-to-toe in finals football in the hopes of reaching the 2015/16 Grand Final.

Western Sydney run out at Pirtek Stadium for the last time for the foreseeable future ahead of upgrades next season; giving them a little extra to play for as they look to farewell their spiritual home in style. Against the Roar, Western Sydney’s history isn’t great, while the did pick up a win in their most recent home game against the Queenslanders, their campaign started with a demoralising loss in Parramatta, and featured at 3-2 loss at Suncorp just six weeks ago. That said Tony Popovic certainly isn’t one to dwell on the past, and will have spent the past fortnight ensuring his players know exactly where things went wrong. Key to that will be finding space up front, although the Roar’s defence is by no means resolute, where the Wanderers have struggled against Aloisi’s men in the past is their ability to move freely in attack. If the likes of Dario Vidosic, Mitch Nichols and Romeo Castelen can’t find room to feed Mark Bridge and Jaushua Soritiro it could well lose them a Grand Final place.

While Western Sydney enter Sunday’s encounter after a fortnight of preparation, the Roar travel to NSW following a hard fought 90 minutes against Melbourne Victory. With the score line locked at 0-0 for 80% of the match it took a goal from Besart Berisha to fire up the Roar and see them bag two goals and a 2-1 win – hammering home just how good the side are at winning finals games. However away from home this weekend Brisbane will have to lift yet another gear if they’re to make their fourth Grand Final in six years. With an away record that has seen them pick up just three wins outside of Queensland (only beaten by Central Coast’s one), the visitors will have to pull on all their strengths and finals football know how on Sunday afternoon. While the odds are stacked against them, it certainly isn’t all bad news for the Roar. The side have improved dramatically in the past eight weeks, going from a flat one-dimensional outfit to one that once again has life in the midfield and several outlets to goal – not to mention the impressive efforts of Jamie Young in goal. So long as John Aloisi sees his men remain mentally resolute and able to rise with the atmosphere at Pirtek they could be on their way to yet another record breaking opportunity next weekend.

My Tip: Western Sydney

Although Brisbane Roar are by far the most experienced in winning finals football games, their record on the road is a significant issue. Not only are the side away from Suncorp, but they’ll be facing a rested Wanderers team in front of a highly hostile Western Sydney crowd. While the game will be tight, the home side’s week off, and both team’s strengths and weaknesses seem to lend themselves towards a third Grand Final appearance for the Wanderers.