The ninth A-League Grand Final will take place on Sunday May 4 between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Next weekend's championship decider comes compliments of semifinal round wins for the Wanderers on Saturday against Central Coast Mariners and for the Roar on Sunday at home against Melbourne Victory.
Western Sydney were the first to reach the Grand Final, defeating Central Coast, last season's championship winners, 2-0 at Pirtek Stadium. The Wanderers were fresh off a 5-0 drubbing of Guizhou Renhe during the week, which sent them though to the Champions League's Round of 16 as a top seed. With both games taking place at home, the Wanderers caught a break and did not have to travel like the Mariners did. Central Coast played on Wednesday in Hiroshima where they lost to Sanfrecce in Group F before flying to Sydney for the semifinal. Western Sydney took advantage of the fatigued and frustrated Mariners, scoring once in each half to claim victory. Youssouf Hersi scored the opener in the 31st minute and Iacopo La Rocca closed out the game with his 81st minute goal.
The weekend's second semifinal featured a third Champions League team in Melbourne Victory, who like the Mariners, were forced to travel internationally during the week. Melbourne lost out on the Round of 16 with a Match Day 6 scoreless draw against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Korea on Tuesday night. The Victory then flew to Queensland to play the Roar, who had not been on the pitch since they lost to the Mariners in the season finale on April 12. Brisbane, the A-League's premiership winners by some margin, got a 58th minute goal from Besart Berisha and held off the Victory over the final half hour to claim hosting rights for the Grand Final for the third time in four years.
A trip to the Grand Final is the second straight for the Wanderers, who claimed the 2012/13 premiership in their inaugural season. Last year they lost at home to Central Coast on the league's biggest stage. This year the Wanderers will have an added wrinkle. The first leg of the Round of 16 will come on Wednesday May 7 in Japan against Sanfrecce Hiroshima so Western Sydney will need to fly out of Australia almost immediately after the May 4 Grand Final in Queensland. But with a second leg coming on May 14 in Sydney, the Wanderers will have no excuse but to fully prepare for the Roar and worry about the Champions League later.
The two Grand Finalists drew 1-1 in the two games at Pirtek Stadium during the regular season while the Roar prevailed 3-1 in the only match at Suncorp. Berisha, who scored on Sunday in the semifinal, scored in two of the three regular season meetings between the Wanderers and the Roar while the three Western Sydney goals came from three different attackers: Brendon Santalab, Labinot Haliti and Tomi Juric.