Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has hailed Thomas Broich as easily the best player in A-League history and warned Central Coast the German maestro will be in signature form for their major semi-final battle.
Working his way back towards his best following heel and shoulder injuries, Broich was rested from the Roar's meaningless 2-1 final round win over Gold Coast on Sunday night to prepare him for the finals.
It means he'll play his 50th A-League match when the defending champions take on the new premiers, the Mariners, in the first leg of the major semi-final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
While Broich is widely regarded as one of the most impressive imports the competition has seen since its inception in 2005, Smith said the former Bundesliga player and ex-German U21 was "by far" the best.
"I think he's certainly underestimated," the defender said.
"Anyone can have a great day but he's been the most consistent performer at that highest level that the A-League has seen ever.
"He doesn't really have an off game and that sets him apart from other top players in the league."
Broich's influence within the competition was highlighted when he was struck down by a heel injury at the end of the Roar's record 36-match unbeaten streak.
Without the 31-year-old, Brisbane lost their next five matches and didn't fully emerge from their slump until he returned early this year.
A shoulder problem has hampered him more recently as the Roar have also had to manage a heavy workload with the start of the Asian Champion League.
"He's getting back into that groove in training now which is good," Smith said.
"He's had a good run now over the last five or six matches and getting back into his best form and probably at a good time going into the finals plus Champions League."
Brisbane have an advantageous preparation for Saturday night's clash with last year's grand final rivals as they were able to rest six regular starters against the Coast and the Mariners have had to travel back from Wellington.
But it's imperative for the Roar they enjoy a home victory before a hectic lead-up to the return clash in Gosford, including a trip to Korea to play a Champions League clash with Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday night.
Smith's partner in central defence Mohamed Adnan is expected to return from a knee injury but won't travel to Korea as he will miss the match through suspension due to two yellow cards in the previous two games.