The 10 stars to watch in the A-League finals

Besart Berisha of the Melbourne Victory.
Besart Berisha of the Melbourne Victory. TRACEY NEARMY

AHEAD of the start of the A-League finals series, David Davutovic names his Top 10 players:


Striker, Age 31

Games: 26, Goals: 19

He's the man for the big occasion, the striker who, no matter his form in the lead-up, always performs in the big finals. Berisha has scored in three separate grand finals and lives for the big stage.


James Troisi of the Melbourne Victory.
James Troisi of the Melbourne Victory. PAUL MILLER


Attacking midfielder, 28

Games: 24, Assists: 6

Has shone on his return to Victory, so much so that he has catapulted himself back into the Socceroos frame after a post-Asian Cup stint in the wilderness. Crucial to servicing his side's dynamic front three.


Striker, 37

Games: 21, Goals: 11

Almost every big City moment this season has involved this man. Think the round two derby win, think the winning goal in the FFA Cup final - even his two goals against Perth on Sunday safeguarded City's home final.


Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli.
Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli. TRACEY NEARMY


Striker, 29

Games: 26, Goals: 17

The striker didn't reproduce his debut season tally of 23 goals, but he remains the attacking dynamo who opponents most fear from open play. His ability to skin players and create a yard of space to unleash a venomous strike is extraordinary.


Attacking midfielder, 32

Games: 26, Assists: 10

His ability to pick a gap and thread one of the attackers, be it Bobo, Alex Brosque or Filip Holokso, is first-class, as is his ability to drift and find pockets of space in dangerous areas, leaving defenders guessing.


Alex Wilkinson of Sydney FC.
Alex Wilkinson of Sydney FC. TONY MCDONOUGH


Defender, 32

Games: 27, Clearances: 122

Arguably the most underrated player in the A-League. Provided a calming influence to Melbourne City when he joined last season, and ditto with Sydney FC, which was a rabble last season without his timing and positioning.


Attacking midfielder, 33

Games: 19, Chances created: 22

A hugely undervalued player during his Socceroos days and after a spell on the sidelines he's hit his straps, underlined by two stunning strikes last week. He can be a joy to watch when he picks up the ball and runs at defences.


Brisbane Roar striker Jamie MacLaren.
Brisbane Roar striker Jamie MacLaren. ALBERT PEREZ


Striker, 23

Games: 26, Goals: 19

Faced many challenges trying to reproduce his stunning 18-goal debut Brisbane haul and was even dropped while missing a game due to Socceroos duty, but to his credit the predator scored one more in two less starts.


Attacker, 34

Games: 25, Goals: 12

After 11 rounds Castro had just three votes in the NewsCorp Player of the Year award. By season's end the attacking wizard had 36, ensuring he won the gong for a second time. Has been crucial to Perth's second half of the season charge.


Nicolas Martinez of the Wanderers scores against Wellington.
Nicolas Martinez of the Wanderers scores against Wellington. Ross Setford


Attacking midfielder, 29

Games: 26, Assists: 10

Jointly won the NewsCorp Player of the Year award with Castro. He possesses the most dangerous left foot in the A-League, and can carve up the opposition in a split second with a pass or strike.

Topics:  a league sportfeature

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