On a knife's edge

Season 2017/18 is coming right down to the wire as the race for the finals reaches its climax.   

Get your tickets to Saturday's match against Brisbane Roar here

After seven months of football, it all boils down to this.

There’s no room for error, no room for complacency and quite simply, no room for defeat.

A loss on Saturday at the hands of Brisbane Roar and the Wanderers will miss out on the finals for just the second time in their short but proud history.

Conversely, a win for Josep Gombau’s men in front of their home fans at ANZ Stadium will well and truly put them in the box seat for the coveted sixth place spot.

It’s an equation that sets up a mouth-watering clash between two sides who are no strangers to meeting each other in high-pressure games.

Castelen


In fact, on each of the four occasions that the Wanderers have made the finals, they’ve faced off against the Roar.

In the 2012/13 season, the Red & Black’s inaugural season in the Hyundai A-League, the Wanderers bested the Roar 2-0 at Parramatta Stadium to book their ticket to the Grand Final.

A year later, it was Brisbane who extracted revenge, being crowned Champions after a dramatic 2-1 extra-time win against the Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium.

In season 2015/16, the Wanderers regained bragging rights and once again secured a place in the Grand Final, this time in spectacular fashion in the now famous 5-4 extra-time win at Parramatta Stadium.

And just last year, the two sides met once again in the finals series, with the Roar coming out on top in the Elimination Final after a nerve-wracking penalty shootout win.

Jumpei


While Saturday may not be a finals football match, it promises to have just as much feeling.

It comes after what can best be described as a curious season for both sides, who have experienced a somewhat mirrored trajectory so far.

It was the Wanderers who began the stronger, enjoying a run in the top four for as much as the first seven weeks of the season.

Though since that opening stage, the Red & Black have only replicated glimpses of that opening season form and have struggled for real consistency.

Meanwhile, the Roar were rooted to the bottom of the ladder for the first six rounds.

And although they haven’t hit any glittering heights since, Roar boss John Aloisi will be pleased with how his side have slowly turned things around.

The Roar were much maligned at the start of the season for having assembled an ageing squad, though their old boys have shown that they still have plenty of life in them.

Led by 38-year-old striker Massimo Maccarone, who has netted nine times this season and exciting French winger Éric Bauthéac, the Roar have plenty of players with big game experience and will no doubt look to draw on that come Saturday night. 

Maccarone


The Wanderers, however, will be looking for a repeat of the last meeting between the two sides, a 2-0 win for the Red & Black at Suncorp Stadium back in Round 14.

It’s been a long time between drinks for Josep Gombau’s men of late, having picked up their last win nearly a month ago, a 4-1 win against Wellington Phoenix at Spotless Stadium.

The Red & Black looked sharp against the Victory last week in the opening stanza but came undone as the game progressed.

The Wanderers know they have the quality and the firepower to compete with the best in the completion but will need to string together two halves of football if they hope to walk away with a result on Saturday night.

And so with that, the stage is set for the biggest and perhaps most unpredictable match of the season.

Buckle up Western Sydney, we're in for a ride.