Six finals teams, six key men

The A-League finals are about to kick off and there are a number of key players capable of deciding matches. The World Game identifies six who are set to be among the most influential.

Brattan, Bobo, Holman

Luke Brattan (L), Bobo (C), Brett Holman Source: Getty Images

1. Bobo (Sydney FC)

It's not just the goals from the Brazilian, although there have been plenty of those - 15 in 27 games, including seven in the last seven.

It's his ability to set things up for teammates inside the box - he has four assists - or even dropping deep to kick-start attacking moves.

That's exactly what he did in the lead-up to Sydney's first goal in their 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets last weekend.

There were four teammates ahead of him when he rode a challenge nearly 40 metres out from goal before passing to Rhyan Grant.

From there the ball went to Filip Holosko and finally Milos Ninkovic for the goal.

Bobo scores goals, is unselfish and works hard. Killer combination.

2. Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory)

This is the genius marksman's time of year. He has scored seven goals in finals campaigns for Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, including four in three grand finals - all of which his team won.

Against Perth Glory in the 2011-12 decider, with his side 1-0 down, he scored in the 84th minute and again four minutes into added time to give Brisbane a sensational win.

The following year, he scored in the 86th minute to force extra time against Western Sydney Wanderers after the Roar trailed 1-0. Brisbane went on to win 2-1.

When Victory beat Sydney FC 3-0 in the 2014-15 grand final, Berisha came up with the opener.

Berisha finally scored his 100th A-League goal in the last round. That's a weight off his shoulders going into the finals.

3. Brett Holman (Brisbane Roar)

The former Australia international is hitting form at the perfect time for Brisbane, with three goals in his last two games - including two crackers from outside the box in their 4-3 win over Wellington Phoenix last weekend.

That is the great strength of Holman, his ability to run the ball from the middle and put the defence in two minds about whether to hang off or go at him.

He can find Jamie Maclaren or others ahead of him if challenged.

Holman's confidence must be booming right now and Western Sydney are going to have to get it spot on in defence or he'll make them pay at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

4. Luke Brattan (Melbourne City)

City need a huge contribution from Brattan if they are to do anything in the finals - but his teammates also need to take greater advantage of his playmaking.

Coming from deep as he often does, he probably needs to be a bit more prudent with his decision-making about when to shoot and when to find a teammate instead.

Brattan hasn't been banging goals in this season - he has taken 39 shots at goal for just 10 on target and one goal.

But while he may only have a modest three assists, he is equal-fifth in the competition for creating chances with 49.

Clearly, his teammates need to do more with those opportunities.

5. Diego Castro (Perth Glory)

There are other important attackers for Perth, but, really, if their main man Castro isn't making an impact the task becomes so much harder because they are already hamstrung by their defensive deficiencies.

The Glory have the worst defensive record of any team that has made the finals in A-League history, which puts pressure on them to score multiple goals if they are to win.

Last weekend they scored five against Melbourne City at home and in the end they needed all of them to get the three points, because City scored four.

Castro scores goals and makes them. He is number one in the competition for chances created, with 65.

Perth are going to need all of his magic just to be competitive.

6. Mitch Nichols (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Nichols has only scored the one goal this season, but the set-up at the Wanderers is very different to last season when he and Mark Bridge worked so well in tandem.

He's still making plenty of things happen for his teammates - he has seven assists and is third in the competition for chances created with 54.

Nichols is as unselfish as ever and couldn't be blamed if he took more shots himself rather than lay the ball off to teammates.

If the Wanderers go anywhere from sixth place coming into the finals, he will inevitably have a lot to do with it.

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4 min read
Published 19 April 2017 at 6:53pm
By Greg Prichard