Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: Round 25
Who stood head and shoulders above the rest in Round 25 of the Hyundai A-League?
We've assessed the candidates and gone with a 4-4-3 formation to house the best from the weekend that was.
Disagree with our selections? Let us know.
PREMIERS: Franjic fires Popovic's men to Hyundai A-League silverware
RECORD BREAKERS: Perth Glory's surge to the Premiership
REACTION: Popovic, Reddy and Chianese celebrate Perth Glory's Premiership victory
Paul Izzo (Adelaide United)
Adelaide United went fourth on the ladder after Saturday evening's 0-0 draw at Melbourne City, a hard-fought point thanks in part to Paul Izzo.
The heroics of Izzo and opposite number Eugene Galekovic took centre stage at AAMI Park, but we believe the visiting Reds shot stopper edges the City gloveman by the narrowest of margins for a spot in the Round 25 Team of the Week.
A pair of superb second half saves from the 24-year-old narrowly tips the balance in his favour. Firstly, Izzo produced the quickest of reaction saves to tip City defender Harrison Delbridge's point-blank header over the bar.
Then, as City looked the more likely to break the second half deadlock, the Adelaide stopper managed to get the slightest of touches to parry Jamie Maclaren's effort onto the foot of the post.
Scott Galloway (Adelaide United)
The Perth-born defender has enjoyed a breakout season with the Reds, and his every-growing claim as one of the best fullbacks of 2018/19 was rammed home in a typically industrious display in Adelaide's stalemate at City.
Highlights from right-back Galloway included a delicious double nutmeg on Harrison Delbridge and Florin Berenguer in the opening half, and he also was flawless in the challenge - winning all five tackles he contested.
Shane Lowry (Perth Glory)
Shane Lowry’s consistency at the back for Perth Glory has been a huge factor in steering the club to the Premiers Plate.
And in Sunday’s 1-0 triumph over Newcastle Jets, the 29-year-old helped ease any mounting nerves at the decisive HBF Park encounter with his formidable presence.
The big centre half won all five of his tackles and won seven of his nine duels completed.
Jacob Pepper (Brisbane Roar)
No other club has been forced to reshuffle their defensive stocks like Brisbane Roar this season but alongside goalkeeper Jamie Young, Jacob Pepper has been the one constant in the heart of defence.
Playing in his 20th match this season for the Queenslanders in Friday's 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix, Pepper's astute marshalling of the rear-guard ensured there was very little joy for Mark Rudan's visitors, despite two late scares.
Yes, the previously free-scoring Phoenix endured an off-colour night at Suncorp Stadium, but, with the equally stoic Matt McKay next to him, Pepper helped lay the platform for Roar's fourth victory of the campaign.
Harrison Delbridge (Melbourne City)
Melbourne City are a different beast at home.
Warren Joyce's side made it 11 matches unbeaten at AAMI Park after Saturday's truce with Adelaide, a run which has seen Harrison Delbridge play a key role in transforming City's home into one of the competition's toughest fortresses to breach.
Not only was the giant defender colossal again at left back, but Delbridge once again proved a massive handful from attacking situations.
He finished the day with more shots on target than any of his teammates, including one point blank header which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Adelaide stopper Paul Izzo early in the second half.
Keisuke Honda (Melbourne Victory)
The Japanese superstar has not quite matched the searing standards set in the early months of his Hyundai A-League tenure, but Melbourne Victory fans may look at Honda’s showing in their 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners on Sunday as a welcome return to form.
Honda amassed a match-high 123 touches of the ball and conducted some breathtaking attacking sequences from Kevin Muscat’s men, and went close to notching his first Hyundai A-League strike from open play since December with two first half efforts.
If the veteran midfielder is able to build from the excellent showing, Victory are sure to be a force to be reckoned with come finals time.
James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
James Troisi has the ball on a string at his very best, and he, like midfield partner Honda, was the genesis of some sensational football played by Victory in Sunday’s win against Central Coast.
Only Honda had more touches and passes of the ball than the Australian schemer, and although the league’s equal-top assist maker did not add to his tally of eight on the night, Troisi’s ability to craft insightful passes from all over the pitch sparked countless moments of attacking promise.
Involved in Ola Toivonen’s superb opener, Troisi was also the man responsible for a delightful clipped delivery to Kosta Barbarouses, who promptly laid on the match-winning assist for Georg Niedermeier late in the day.
Diego Castro (Perth Glory)
With the Premiership on the line, Perth Glory ramped up their quest to break down a stubborn Newcastle Jets defence on Sunday night, and it was Castro who finally unlocked the visitors.
The Spaniard would tee up the Premiers Plate-clinching strike for Ivan Franjic with a lovely pass, and he may have provided more and found the net himself but for some astute goalkeeping from Glen Moss and the linesman's offside flag.
Castro racked up 114 touches of the ball on the evening, and in helping Glory end their wait for Hyundai A-League silverware, has finally underlined his status as an all time competition great.
Joel Chianese (Perth Glory)
Dangerous, relentless and evasive: Sunday's triumph in the WA capital was Joel Chianese's 2018/19 season in a nutshell.
The forward has been a player transformed under the tutelage of Tony Popovic this campaign. Working in electrifying tandem with front man Andy Keogh, Chianese's energy and willingness to fight for every ball kept the visiting Newcastle defence on high alert.
He was thwarted by Jets keeper Moss twice and continually provided Castro and Keogh with the attacking momentum that would eventually pay dividends of the highest order.
Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory)
The Kiwi has evolved from a wide-attacker into a natural goalscorer this season but it was his ability to provide lethal ammunition for his Victory teammates that caught the eye in the club's win over the Mariners.
Barbarouses created a huge five chances on the night, combined beautifully with the rest of the Victory front line and it was his persistence in the box and cross that saw Georg Niedermeier bury the game's winning strike.
Eric Bautheac (Brisbane Roar)
Brisbane Roar attacker Eric Bautheac sure was in an explosive mood in Friday night's 2-1 win over the Phoenix, a match that displayed both sides of the enigmatic Frenchman.
Having spurned a wonderful chance to open the scoring just minutes earlier, Bautheac single-handedly got Roar on the board with a remarkable solo effort which saw him burst from deep inside his own half, link with Nick D'Agostino, and slalom past a trail of Wellington players before lobbing Filip Kurto from the tightest of angles.
The former Ligue 1 man then added a second with a tap in at the back post five minutes later, his fifth strike in his last six matches. His match-winning contribution was matched by a tigerish work-rate off the ball and blemished only by a stoppage time red card - his second of the campaign - for a second bookable offence.