Early grand final preview looms

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For the first time this season the Wanderers will enter a round top of the ladder, thanks to another solid win and this week’s opponents Brisbane Roar finally slipping up, literally, in terrible conditions at Newcastle.

The Wanderers overcame a strong Melbourne Victory, rarely looking troubled and in typical fashion wearing down their opponents and striking the killer blow.

Many opposition fans were probably thinking the Wanderers were one-season wonders, who would lose their solidity and buckle under pressure.

The win against an in-form Victory side further emphasised the pure class and solid structure of the Wanderers, and there is rarely moments of unrest when fans watch their side on the park.

Tony Popovic’s defensive background and the years he spent in England with Crystal Palace are invaluable in the way his team approach each match.

They’re undefeated because of the way they defend.

Of course the attack consisting of names such as Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and Tomi Juric all have crucial roles; though it is the relationship and understanding they share at the back that frustrates opponents to a point where they commit too many forward and that is where the Wanderers capitalise.

Most fans are probably still confused as to why captain Michael Beauchamp remains out of the starting line-up, and it’s amazing that even without him in the heart of defence the Wanderers have looked relatively untroubled in both games.

This is down to the incredible strength in depth the Wanderers now have in defence, and Matthew Spiranovic, should he start once again, will be key in dealing with a deadly Brisbane Roar attack.

Brisbane just fell short against Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium last round, though with a massive injury toll and even worse conditions than what we saw at Pirtek Stadium it will be hardly a cause for concern.

As is most often the case, the loss last round coupled with surrendering their lead at the top of the ladder will prove even more of an incentive to get the win and knock the Wanderers off their perch.

Word from Brisbane is that the Roar may welcome back the trio of Besart Berisha, Liam Miller and vice-captain Shane Stefanutto for the match this week.

These three additions could prove vital in how the match plays out, as all three are critical to how the Roar dictate the game.

Besart Berisha is known throughout the league as one of if not the most deadly striker in the league, with Shane Stefanutto adding a wealth of experience in defence.

Add in the European experience of Liam Miller, formerly on the books of such clubs as Celtic and Manchester United, and you have a wealth of talent that will test the unbeaten Wanderers in every way imaginable.

If Berisha does in fact return he will prove to be the one to watch and will surely provide the biggest threat for the opposition.

It really is difficult to split these two sides.

The Wanderers came into the 2013/14 season with plenty of confidence surrounding them given their form last year, while Brisbane were superb in the pre-season and many had them ear-marked for big things this year.

Is it possible that Friday night’s game at Suncorp Stadium will deliver a very early preview of the grand final early next year? One would find it difficult to mount an argument against these two sides being there on the biggest day of the year.

All things point to a draw, although nothing is guaranteed in the A-League.

Again, this match is on free-to-air television and with a big crowd expected at Suncorp, you can expect the players to lift.

This is definitely one to watch, so cancel your plans and get the remote in hand.

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