A-League Week 1 Finals Review

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Besart Berisha watches on as his kick flies into the back of the net to win Melbourne Victory the game. PHOTO SOURCE: CHANNEL 10

MELBOURNE CITY VS BRISBANE ROAR

The Friday night elimination final between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City felt a little like eating all your vegetables before moving onto your meat. This match was important and it needed to happen, but it was far from the most attractive thing on offer this weekend. At least we got it out of the way first.

Melbourne City looked cool, calm, collected, and comfortable as they easily overcame an uninspiring Brisbane side 2-0. City looked a step quicker than their opponents, and certainly benefited from boasting a more youthful lineup.

Brisbane Roar have some serious work to do in the off season if they want to improve on this result next year. They looked inactive and sometimes frankly bored on the pitch in what was supposed to be a cut throat final, and it’s hard to see them finishing any higher than sixth next year when this already ancient squad is another year older. Brisbane need an injection of youth, and badly. The news that one of their few players under 30, Corey Brown, will be trading his Brisbane orange for the navy tones of Melbourne Victory is already a step in the wrong direction. To be in with any chance of improving next year, manager John Aloisi will have to find players you’d be more likely to find at a Brisbane nightclub rather than a Brisbane RSL.

As for Melbourne City, they’ll be very happy with the night’s proceedings. They didn’t work themselves too hard and escaped injury free, which will be extremely useful against a fresh and rested Newcastle Jets next week in the Semi Final. Their previous fixture against the Jets just a few weeks ago saw City surprisingly run out easy winners, and there is no reason that they could not repeat that effort this time around. After so much promise and potential after being purchased by the City Football Group, the club finally find themselves starting down the barrel of their best opportunity yet to make a Grand Final. It’s got game of the year potential written all over it.

MELBOURNE VICTORY V ADELAIDE UNITED

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Much like Jesus who rose from the dead after a quiet 87 minutes of football, Besart Berisha appeared when he was needed most, and scored an unbelievable winner on the brink of full time.

Anytime he faces criticism or adversity, Berisha pops up to score a crucial goal to remind us  of his class and talent. As each season passes it becomes harder and harder to argue against the case that he is the greatest player the league has ever seen. While his contribution throughout the rest of the game may have been minor, the best players show up when it counts. Besart Berisha doesn’t just know this rule, he essentially wrote it.

His goal, given the stakes and the occasion, must be considered among the very best the competition has ever seen. The acrobatic overhead effort past Paul Izzo sent the AAMI Park crowd into pandemonium, and sent Melbourne Victory 2-1 up and into a tantalising Grand Final rematch against fierce rivals Sydney FC.

Berisha’s beautiful bicycle may not have been as clean a hit as Ronaldo’s in the Champions League Quarter Finals, but it certainly meant just as much to Berisha and the Victory faithful.

It wasn’t all great news for Melbourne Victory however. Their makeshift fullbacks Leigh Broxham and Thomas Deng at times struggled badly against Adelaide’s quality out wide, and given the quality of Sydney FC’s side there is plenty of reason to believe they’ll struggle again. Graham Arnold’s formidable Sydney FC have rarely shown vulnerability over the last two seasons, but as always with intense rivalry matches, anything can happen.

Adelaide can also count themselves unlucky to lose, and with their star winger Absalonsen fit throughout all of the campaign, they should do well next season.

Melbourne’s second lowest crowd ever for a home final is a worry, and anyone who stayed home most certainly missed out. If next week’s Big Blue Semi Final is anything like these sides final fixture last season, any fan who stays home will miss out again.

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