Brisbane Roar host Western Sydney Wanderers in the first of the elimination finals at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Argentine Nicolas Martinez has starred for the Wanderers in the home and away season on-loan from Olympiakos, and he will be crucial to the Red and Black’s chances of progressing.
Why he’s important
Martinez’s creativity and versatility add so much to this Wanderers team. The 29-year-old has scored goals, produced assists and created plenty of chances, ultimately, putting his name forward as one of this season’s best players.
He has played his preferred central as well as wide attacking-midfield roles, and when playing out wide, his pace and flair allow him to pressure defences and create chances. He is arguably at his best in the middle, however.
When playing behind the striker, he is even more creative with more opportunity. Martinez’s vision on the ball allows him to exploit spaces in behind, either through the striker or down the wings.
His season so far
Martinez has been consistently impressive in a rollercoaster season for Western Sydney. When first arriving at the Wanderers, Martinez took time to adapt to the training workloads at the Sydney outfit, but he eventually adjusted several rounds into the season.
His first start came in round four against the Central Coast Mariners, where he provided an early assist. The following round, he scored his first goal in the first minute against Perth Glory.
In round eight, Martinez was heavily involved in the win against the Mariners to break a six-match winless streak. Following that win, Martinez did not score or assist in the next six matches and the Wanderers were winless in each of those. Since the backend of January, Martinez has been pivotal in the Wanderers’ resurgence.
Martinez started 21 matches and came on as a substitute five times during the season. He was directly involved in 12 goals, netting four times and assisting eight; only Marco Rojas and Milos Ninkovic produced more. Martinez completed 743 passes this season with 79.1% accuracy and also completed 67 dribbles, just one less than Diego Castro.
The playmaker created 36 chances, three more than Ninkovic. Martinez finished with 20 shots on target for the season with a shooting accuracy of 55.6%. Three of his goals and five of his assists were in away fixtures, and that road form could be vital in the finals period.