A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL:
Perth v Sydney FC
Sunday, May 19 - 4:30pm, 6:30pm (AEST)
Optus Stadium, Perth
* Premiers - 18 wins, 6 draws, 3 losses, +33 goal difference
* Defeated Adelaide United 3-3 (5-4 on penalties) in semi-final
After a bumper off-season of recruitment, Tony Popovic's side started with a bang and didn't let up.
* Second-placed finishers - 16 wins, 4 draws, 7 losses, +14 goal difference
* Defeated Melbourne Victory 6-1 in semi-final
Sydney FC passed their second last test of the season, a Big Blue semi-final, with flying colours; a 6-1 demolition that shows they're not just making up the numbers in the grand final. Steve Corica, in his first season as head coach, has plenty of talent and motivation in Sky Blue; the core of the squad were there last season when they believed they should have been champions.
HEAD TO HEAD:
Overall: Perth 9 wins, Sydney 25 wins, 9 draws
Rd 9 - Perth 1-2 Sydney FC, HBF Park
Rd 12 - Glory 3-1 Sydney, HBF Park
Rd 26 - Sydney 1-0 Perth, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Perth: 2 (NSL 2002-03, 2003-04)
Sydney FC: 3 (A-League 2005-06, 2009-10, 2016-17)
Perth: Tony Popovic. The master coach has taken less than a year to transform the Glory into the best defensive side of the league - a far cry from their record in previous seasons. Has helped a number of players achieve career-best form.
Sydney FC: Steve Corica. He has stepped out of the shadow of Graham Arnold with a distinguished finish in his first season at the helm. Finishing only behind Tony Popovic's runaway premiers Perth, Corica will be quietly confident.
Perth: Diego Castro. The Spaniard might be 36 but has signed a new two-year deal on form alone. Perth's maestro will cement his status as one of the A-League's all-time stars if he can produce another slice of magic on the big stage.
Sydney FC: Alex Brosque. Can Brosque earn the fairytale ending? Sydney's favourite son will retire on the full-time whistle in pain or in pride. Was superb last week and showed he's still well worthy of his place in a star-studded side at age 35.
HOW PERTH WIN:
A professional day at the office. They have simply been the best team all season, with Shane Lowry keeping it calm at the back, Neil Kilkenny dictating terms in the middle and Castro going to work up top.
HOW SYDNEY FC WIN:
They pick up where they left off. No team could have matched Sydney FC last week, with Rhyan Grant rampaging down the right flank and a bevvy of chances created across the entire forward line. If the Sky Blues find space, they'll hurt Perth.
It's tempting to suggest Sydney FC might have played their grand final last week. If the the stoic Perth defence can forget about last week's nightmare, the Glory days should be back. Perth 2-1.
© AAP 2019