How Toivonen and Barbarouses have fired Melbourne Victory's championship assault
Kosta Barbarouses has been in career-best form in front of goal this season, and the Kiwi attacker believes it is a result of Ola Toivonen’s selflessness.
Barbarouses, 29, has made his name as a wide attacker throughout his career to date, but has formed a deadly two-pronged partnership with the Swedish front man this season.
The pair have worked in tandem to replace the void left by departed former striker Besart Berisha, and Victory boss Kevin Muscat’s decision to wed Toivonen and Barbarouses up front may yet paid dividends of the highest order.
Certainly, that tactical shift from Muscat has produced Barbarouses’ most prolific Hyundai A-League season to date, and he scored his 15th goal of the campaign in Friday night’s 3-1 Elimination Final win over Wellington Phoenix.
His understanding with Toivonen – who gave the assist for his strike partner before adding a classy third for Victory to send the Phoenix packing – was on full show at AAMI Park, as was the big difference in Barbarouses’ game which could yet lead the reigning champions to another Grand Final appearance.
“He takes the attention away from me,” Barbarouses said of Toivonen’s impact in a post-match interview with FOX Sports.
“At times last year I was getting marked out of games.
“Now playing up top with him takes the attention away. His unselfish runs... he runs into spaces knowing he’s not going to get the ball a lot of them time.
"It allows me to get in behind, and we’ve got a good partnership. We work really well together.”
Next up for Barbarouses and Toivonen is a Big Blue semi-final date with rivals Sydney FC on Sunday May 12.
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