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Swap mates set for Grand Final showdown

THEY swapped clubs in search of another A-League championship, but now for star midfielders Luke Brattan and Josh Brillante there can only be one winner.Had Sydney FC met Melbourne City in last season’s grand final, Brattan would have been plotting the Sydneysiders’ downfall while Brillante’s task would have involved nullifying City’s threats.But off-season shenanigans resulted…

THEY swapped clubs in search of another A-League championship, but now for star midfielders Luke Brattan and Josh Brillante there can only be one winner.

Had Sydney FC met Melbourne City in last season’s grand final, Brattan would have been plotting the Sydneysiders’ downfall while Brillante’s task would have involved nullifying City’s threats.

But off-season shenanigans resulted in the Queensland pair moving in opposite directions. Brattan made the switch from City to Sydney, and Brillante moved to Melbourne from the Harbour City.

“It’s a crazy situation – we’ve swapped roles,” Brattan said.

“Joshy’s been fantastic. He was unbelievable for Sydney for the three years he was here, and he’s done a great job this year at City as well.

“He’s a fantastic player, and I’m going to look forward to playing against him on Sunday.”

Brillante’s steely focus on Sunday night’s decider at Bankwest Stadium had him less inclined to discuss the swap.

“I don’t speak much to him,” Brillante said when asked about Brattan.

“I’ve come here and he’s gone there. We’ve both made the final now and it’s a great game to be involved in.”

As Brillante well and truly knows.

He played for Sydney FC in last season’s grand final in which the Sky Blues beat Perth Glory via a penalty shootout.

Brillante, 27, also won the championship in 2017 with Sydney when they defeated Melbourne Victory in a decider that again required penalties to determine a winner.

But before Brillante’s titles, Brattan had already been there and done that, having been part of Brisbane Roar’s golden era that netted the club three championships from 2011 to 2014.

Brattan, 30, played in Brisbane’s 2012 and 2014 grand final wins and said he was glad to back on the big stage this weekend.

“When I was at City we did pretty well the few years I was there to make the semi-finals but it’s fantastic to be back in the big game,” he said.

“I’m really excited, and I’m going to enjoy the day. It’s been a while so I don’t know if I’ll be nervous but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Brattan said the “winning culture” at Sydney, who have been crowned A-League champions four times, reminded him of the feeling during the Roar’s halcyon days under Ange Postecoglou and Mike Mulvey.

“It’s very similar. Walking around the training facilities and the offices, you feel those little beliefs and cultural things you might not feel at other clubs that aren’t as successful,” he said.

“It’s a credit to the coaches and the players and the staff that have been (at Sydney) the last six or seven years and created that.”

It’s a Sydney aura that Brillante knows too well, and wants to bring that feeling to City.

“No matter where I go I try to bring as much of me and what I can help the team do to get as far as possible and win stuff,” said the Bundaberg product who will captain City on Sunday in the absence of regular skipper Scott Jamieson, who is in Melbourne following the birth of his son.

“I was happily surprised being asked to take over as captain while Jamo’s at home looking after his family. I wanted to take on that role and lead the team,” he said.

“It’s been great, but as much I’m trying to do my part everyone else is doing their part as well.”

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