Brisbane run riot in the west and clinch 4th successive win

 

Perth Glory 0
Brisbane Roar 3
(HENRIQUE 21’, Besart BERISHA 58’, 62’)
Saturday, 25 February 2012
Venue:
nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Strebre Delovski

 

How about this past month then for Brisbane Roar, away to the 3 biggest challengers for their crown and without doubt their 3 best away performances of the season. 4 wins from 4 against Glory, Victory, Phoenix and Central Coast has seen the Mariners lead slashed from 11pts to just 3, and Brisbane could even go top of the table on Friday with a win over the Heart. This was yet another fantastic road victory, and furthermore they did it without Thomas Broich. Given that fact can we finally put the whole ‘oh Brisbane cannot win without Broich’ argument to bed now?

 

Substitutions:
Brisbane:
Meyer for Fitzgerald (69’), Nakajima- Farran for Murdocca (75’), Hingert for Nichols (85’)
Unused Substitutes: Redmayne.
Yellow Cards: Smith, Fitzgerald.
Red Cards: Henrique.

 

Perth: Andrezinho for McGarry (63’), Howarth for Risdon (79’), Amphlett for Sterjovski (85’)
Unused Substitutes: Young.
Yellow Cards: Vukovic, Pantelidis, Heffernan, Sterjovski.
Red Cards: Nil.
Brisbane made just the one alteration to the starting line-up that won 3-2 against the Victory last weekend with youngster Nick Fitzgerald coming in to replace Thomas Broich. Murdocca, whose wife gave birth late Friday night (congratulations to them both on their new baby girl) made a dash for the airport and arrived in Perth around midday to keep his spot in the side. On the bench there were two further changes with James Meyer earning a promotion due to Broich’s troubles and the fit again Jack Hingert replacing Matt Mundy. It was nice to see Jack get some time at the end, and he also got through a full shift in the NYL so he gained some valuable match fitness from the trip. Brisbane’s Olyroo boys were in Perth, but weren’t required for action.

 

Perth also made one change to their starting side with Liam Miller ruled out with a hamstring strain, so Adam Hughes stepped in to the side. Tommy Amphlett was awarded a bench role in the reshuffle. Unfortunately the West Australians were without the services of Shane Smeltz who was again out with injury.

 

Brisbane began the game with some high pressure and forced the Glory into rushed passes and clearances which resulted in them winning possession in or around the Glory half. Perth were trying to mimic the tactic and had moderate success with it in the 1st half, but Brisbane were able to control the play and keep the ball. A large part of that was down to Smith and Adnan who had excellent composure on the ball and began to step forward into midfield.  Brisbane had their fullbacks pressing higher up the park and used them to great affect in launching attacks (especially Franjic) and this resulted in Perth’s wide men being less effective than usual.

 

Onto the goals and the 1st one was a fantastic example of that pressure. Jacob Burns played a sloppy 50-50 pass which Stefanutto read expertly. From there it was a simple pass to Berisha who had dropped off the front line into the space between the lines, and he just turned and slid an inch perfect ball through to Henrique who had gotten goal-side of his marker (Heffernan). Henrique beat the onrushing Vukovic to the ball and rounded him before slotting home. 1-0 Brisbane. Excellent goal, and yet another example of a swift counter attacking movement from the Roar, something we’ve began to see more of on a consistent basis this past month.

 

Ferguson must have given them a bit of a bake during the halftime interval, because at the beginning of the 2nd half Perth really pushed high up and put a halt to Brisbane playing out from the back along the ground. Mehmet, Sterjovski, Dodd and McGarry took turns at pressing high with the results being Theoklitos either kicking it long down the middle, or chipping it wide to the fullbacks.

 

Here are two good examples of Perth’s pressure. In the 1st Glory managed to win the ball back around the halfway line and had good numbers forward for a counter attack. In the 2nd they forced it back to Theoklitos who had no choice but to kick the ball long.
 

 

Despite all of that pressure from the Glory that resulted in a chance or two for the hosts, Brisbane went down the other end of the park and doubled their lead, and yet again they did it in a way only they can. This all started from more Glory pressure on the left side with the ball eventually finding its way to Adnan who set Franjic away. Franjic proceeded to run the ball up to half way before a 1-2 with Murdocca which drew the defender. Franjic continued his run to the edge of the box where he played it to Henrique who delivered a solid cross to Berisha who just swivelled and slotted home.

 

 

The 3rd and final goal arrived not long after the 2nd with once again some fantastic work from Brisbane in setting it up. Paartalu got up and won a header to win possession, with the ball dropping to Stefanutto who switched it immediately to Adnan who had time. Adnan brought it forward into midfield drawing a defender before playing it wide to Franjic, who cut inside, beat 1 man and slid it through to Nichols 20-25 yards from goal. Nichols turned and played an absolutely superb ball into the inside left channel for Fitzgerald and the youngster showed fantastic composure to calmly play it across the face to the un-marked Berisha. Besart did what any striker would do and scored for 2 yards for his 17th of the season. Another great team goal from the Roar, and all this interplay without Broich.

 

Following the red card to Henrique the positive thing is that they were still capable of keeping possession and it didn’t really seem as though Glory had a man advantage, and they defiantly didn’t capitalise on it.

 

Player ratings:
Brisbane:
Theoklitos 7, Franjic 7, Stefanutto 7, Smith 7, Adnan 7, Paartalu 8, Nichols 7, Murdocca 7, Henrique 8,  Berisha 8, Fitzgerald 8, Nakajima- Farran 6, Hingert 6, Meyer 6.

 

Perth: Vukovic 6, Risdon 6, Van den Brink 6, Pantelidis 6, Heffernan 6, Dodd 6, Burns 6, Hughes 6, Sterjovski 6, McGarry 6, Mehmet 6, Howarth 6, Amphlett, Andrezinho 6.

 

Statistics:


Disciplinary Record- Part two.

 

Back in late December I wrote a post outlining where club sat in relation to Yellow Cards and suspensions and the like. Well since that time no player has crossed that 5 card limit, and the FFA’s late season rule of increasing it to 8 Yellows means that its highly doubtful any Roar player will miss a game due to accumulation of Yellow Cards. Here’s the tally as it stands:

 

 

In addition to this, the FFA award an annual ‘fair play’ award to the team who accumulates the least amount of Yellow and Red Cards throughout the season, so let’s take a quick look at the leader board. All of this is taken from the A-League page on Wikipedia.  This award is scored in 3 categories, and each category has its own points allocation, as outlined below.

Yellow Cards: 1 point

Yellow Cards= Red Card: 2 points

Red Cards: 3 points

 

 

So there you have it, Brisbane is on track to win the 2011/12 fair play award, with a narrow lead over Central Coast. I believe they won this award last year so this title defence is going to plan. It’s also good to see both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at the bottom of this table as a Brisbane fan. I’ve always thought they are two of the more thuggish teams in the league and this table justifies that.


Match Preview: Perth Glory vs. Brisbane Roar

1stly- Apologies if this preview is a little longer than the usual preview, its just that there’s been a lot of news regarding selection, injures ect over the past 24 hours.

 

Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Venue: nib Stadium

Local kick-off: 6:45pm (9.45pm AEDT)

TV broadcast: Fox Sport 1

Referees: Strebre Delovski / Paul Cetrangolo / Matthew Cheeseman / Trent Fleskens

 

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Danny Vukovic (Gk), 2.Josh Mitchell, 3.Bas Van Den Brink, 4.Billy Mehmet, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 7.Jacob Burns (C) 8.Adam Hughes, 9.Shane Smeltz, 10.Liam Miller, 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry, 15.Tommy Amphlett, 17.Todd Howarth, 19. Josh Risdon, 20. Neil Young, 21.Mile Sterjovski, 27.Andrezinho 35. Dean Heffernan

*Three to be omitted*

 In: 2.Josh Mitchell (Returns from Injury), 9.Shane Smeltz (Returns from Injury) 15.Tommy Amphlett (Promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: 6.Chris Coyne (Achilles), 11.Victor Sikora (Hip – Long Term Injury List), 16.Evan Berger (Hamstring)

Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith (C), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paartalu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 12. Matt Mundy, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich, 24. Nick Fitzgerald

*Two to be omitted*

 In: Nil

Out: Nil

Unavailable: 14. Rocky Visconte (Australian U23 duty), 4. Matt Jurman (Australian U23 duty)
**Marco is speculating that Visconte and Jurman will link up in Perth, and may feature in the contest**

 

Season form:

Brisbane: WWWWDDWWLLLLLWDDWDLWWW

Perth: WWWLLLDLWLLLDDWWDWWWLW

 

Season record vs. Perth Glory:

Round 8:  Brisbane Roar (Berisha 23’, 45’, Nakajima- Farran 34’, 42’) 4-0 Perth Glory

Round 15: Perth Glory (Dodd 16’, Sterjovski 24’, 79’) 3-3 Brisbane Roar (Nichols 40’, 69’, Paartalu 45’)

 

Top scorers:

Brisbane: Besart Berisha (15)

Perth:  Shane Smeltz (9)

 

Assists:

Brisbane: Thomas Broich (5)

Perth: Travis Dodd (3)

 

All-time record against Perth Glory:

Total: Played 20: Won 12, Drawn 5, Lost 3. Goals for 45, Goals against 26.

 

At Nib Stadium:

Total: Played 10: Won 6, Drawn 2, Lost 2. Goals for 20, Goals against 12.

 

Starting Line-ups:

Substitutes:
Brisbane:
Redmayne, Jurman, Nakajima- Farran, Fitzgerald
Omitted:
Hingert, Meyer

Perth: Young, Hughes, Andrezinho, Smeltz
Omitted:
Mitchell, Howarth, Amphlett

 

Both of the above line-ups are subject to fitness for Brisbane’s Thomas Broich, the availability of Massimo Murdocca and Perth’s Liam Miller, both of who were substituted with niggles last week. Broich with his shoulder and Miller with his hamstring.
Brisbane:

Postecoglou may have some serious issues surrounding his midfield for this game with Broich ‘highly unlikely’ to travel due to that shoulder injury, and Massimo Murdocca possibly missing the game to be with his wife as she gives birth to their 1st child. I believe the squad heads to Perth later today, after their morning training session (which is their usual travel routine: train in Brisbane the day before, fly to away ground in the afternoon) and it goes without saying that Broich is going to need to fly through this mornings session to be any chance. For Murdocca it’s a tough call to fly across the country while your wife is in this stage of the pregnancy, and we saw a similar dilemma for Manny Muscat of the Phoenix recently. Muscat decided to keep playing, but got a suspension which meant he missed the next game anyway. The quotes in the paper seem to indicate he will be travelling, but I think everyone would understand if he didn’t play this weekend.

Even though the Olyroos boys are meeting the team in Perth and Marco is speculating they have a chance to feature, I cannot see a way that either of them plays in this match, and if they do it’s surely not going to be anything more than a bench role. They’ve been peripheral figures in the squad recently anyway so it’s not a huge issue.

Shane Stefanutto had some interesting comments on Fox Sports News last night when he all but confirmed Nick Fitzgerald as the replacement for Broich if he cannot go and he went on to praise the kid by saying he knows his job out there, makes it easier for me, the usual spiel you expect from players when talking about other players. If Broich can’t play this week and Fitzgerald gets the start, which leaves 2 options for the bench role: James Meyer and Kofi Danning. I would expect that Meyer would get the nod, purely because 3-4 weeks ago when it came down to a choice between the two, Meyer got the nod and he was slightly more impressive in youth last week (both were pretty ordinary)

The issue is compounded by the fact that Massimo Murdocca may not make the trip west and if worst comes to worst and both Murdocca and Broich cannot go then Postecoglou has a real issue. Fitzgerald would still come in to play on the left wing, but who would play in the middle? Would Luke Brattan get a late call-up? Is this where Visconte fits into the picture? Does Issey get the start slightly out of position? My bet is that in that situation Luke Brattan would get the call up into the starting side, in what would be a huge opportunity for the young midfielder who’s been stuck in the NYL recently. It’s also worth pointing out that if Broich can play and Murdocca stays in Brisbane, Fitzgerald would be the likely inclusion anyway, with Broich moving to a central midfield role.

My guess on the match day 15 if both Murdocca and Broich cannot play is: Theoklitos, Franjic, Adnan, Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Nichols, Brattan, Henrique, Berisha, and Fitzgerald. Substitutes: Redmayne, Jurman, Nakajima- Farran, Meyer. Im not comfortable projecting the Olyroo boys into the squad, even if Marco says it’s a possibility at least 1 of them could make the bench.

Jack Hingert, who made his comeback in the NYL last weekend by coming on at half-time and playing the whole 2nd half is probably still not match fit yet and would be better served in the Youth league for another week. Mundy is more than capable of sitting on the bench in the A-League, and Jurman could also be an option for the bench.

Perth:

For Perth im reliably informed they’ve been playing a bit of 4-3-3/ 4-4-1-1 lately and according to a source in the West and he expects that to continue. If Miller cannot go it seems likely that Adam Hughes would step into that role, unless Ferguson wanted to go more attacking and switch to 2 central strikers. He appears to be facing something of a dilemma for this weekends match, because their top scorer Shane Smeltz is once again available for selection following injury. So does he stick with the in form Billy Mehmet or switch to the goal poacher extraordinaire? My bet is that he will ease Smeltz back via the bench, but it would not surprise me if Smeltz started, or even if he went back to two upfront and left one of the midfielders out. Josh Mitchell or Todd Howarth may claim a bench spot purely for defensive cover, with probably Andrezinho making way in that case.

Keys to the game:
Brisbane:

Going to keep this very short due to the length: Apart from all the conjecture over who will travel and who won’t Brisbane is rolling right now and it’s a matter of carry that form across the Nullarbor, whoever plays. The only note of caution is giving the ball away in dangerous areas (2nd goal last week), because an inform Perth may profit like Kewell did. Berisha as we all know has been in fantastic form of late and a lot could fall on his shoulders to win the game without his German mate but the other one to watch for here is Mitch Nichols. Mitch has been in good touch since returning from the Olyroos and is always good for a goal from midfield, and that could be what’s required to bring the points back east.

Perth:

Perth too are on a roll following a convincing 2-0 victory over Newcastle in the west last Saturday just after the Roar match and one loss in the past 10 is as good as any side in the competition, and for them it starts at the back. Since the much maligned Steve Pantelidis moved into a central defensive position the Glory have stopped leaking soft goals and have lost just once. He’s also formed a formidable partnership with Van den Brink.

In the midfield I have to admit I’ve been no fan of the work of McGarry and Burns in the past, but they’ve found a way to make it work recently and the good form of McGarry especially has been a vital factor in their recent success. From the wide areas Dodd and Sterjovski can be extremely dangerous – the duo scored Perth’s 3 goals last time- and they’ll need to be watched carefully. Upfront we all know the danger of Smeltz, but Mehmet has been plugging away nicely and has hit some decent form himself. Not an easy choice for Ferguson, but id rather than choice than the one that is possibly facing Postecoglou.


Roar vs Victory youth- A few observations

 

Im sure by now most know now that Brisbane Roar ended their home campaign in the 2011/12 NYL season on a high by defeating Melbourne Victory 2-1 in Cleveland with goals from George Lambadaridis and Tommy Cirjak. Rather than bore you with the same details of the clubs review, I’ve decided to do a quick rundown of each player’s performance in the match. I will say though that Brisbane thoroughly deserved their win and they totally dominated the game, both in terms of possession and chances.

 

Redmayne: Didn’t really have a lot to do so its tough to judge him based on it in a keeper sense, but he was boisterous and organising the defence and such which was good.

 
Mundy: Matt only played 45 minutes this week and he was solid without being spectacular. Victory tended to attack down the left when Mundy was on so it’s tough to judge. Apart from his versatility in being able to play all across the back I didn’t see anything in has game that warranted a new contract.
Geria: Geria had a solid game at the back without any glaring mistakes. The thing I like about him and Donachie is that they both try and play out, and when the situation presents itself they bring the ball forward into midfield. It wasn’t the best game I’ve seen him play but it wasn’t the worst either.

 

Donachie: As I mentioned above the two central defenders had good games playing out from the back, and it was primarily Donachie who was brining the ball forward and he had a really impressive game at the back for mine.
Brown: The 1st time I saw Corey play I wasn’t convinced on him as a left back but the last two times I’ve seen him he’s impressed me with his ability to get forward and provide an option. On the weekend he probably over committed in a forward sense for the goal however.
Archibald: He’s beginning to grow into that ‘Paartalu’ role in midfield and he did a decent job of breaking up the play and distributing it. Im still far from convinced however that he’s capable of stepping up to the 1st team.
Bush: Chris was his usual busy self and was a solid link player between the defence and the strikers. His shooting however needs work because he had enough chances to score a hat-trick in this game.
Lambadaridis: George made way at half time for Brattan to come on and get some playing time but in his 45 minutes he was very impressive in his game. His passes were very good, he got forward into dangerous roles and he had a nice finish to open the scoring.
Meyer: James only played 45 minutes and he didn’t have the greatest game to be fair. A lot of the play in the 1st half went down the Brisbane left hand side so he didn’t really have many chances to insert himself into the action. Perhaps he was disgruntled at being dropped to the youth team, but he didn’t really do anything to get promoted to the 1st team again.
Proia: This was the 1st time I’ve seen Anthony in A Roar shirt and I was suitably impressed with him. He’s a bigger guy than I remember from seeing him play for Ais. He didn’t have too many chances to score in this match, but the pressure he put on the Victory defenders created a few turnovers and chances for teammates to score.
Cirjak: This season I haven’t been too impressed by Tommy’s play in this team, but on Sunday he was probably my MOTM. He scored the winner from the penalty spot, but I was more impressed with his attacking movements down the left side in the 1st half where he created a few chances for himself and his teammates.
Hingert: Hingert came on at half time in his 1st appearance following an ankle injury and he looked solid in the position making plenty of attacking runs from the position. Defensively he was solid enough and did his job when required. He probably needs another game or 2 in the youth before he’s fully ready for the 1st team consideration.
Brattan: Brattan was relatively quiet in this game from general play in truth, and he didn’t get forward too often. His set pieces were alright and one of them lead to the penalty- although that’s because the Victory defender stuck his hand up in mid-air.

 

Danning: Coming on at half time I was expecting big things from Kofi, sadly he didn’t deliver. Early in the half he lost a solid 50-50 challenge and from there he went into his shell a bit. He also deferred on taking the shooting responsibility too often imo. He didn’t do his 1st team aspirations any favours on this showing.


Berisha makes it 15 as Brisbane wins 3 straight.

 

 

During the week Besart re-signed with the club til the end of the 2013/2014 season, and he celebrated in style by scoring a brace and helping Brisbane win by the odd goal in 5. The game had everything really- A big crowd, 2 goals for Harry, some excellent play and most importantly, a Brisbane win which keeps the gap between 1st and 2nd at 5pts.

 

Brisbane Roar 3 (Besart BERISHA 1’ 32’, HENRIQUE (pen) 38’)
Melbourne Victory 2
(Harry KEWELL 8’, 50’)
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Venue:
Suncorp Stadium
Local kick-off: 6:45pm (7.45pm AEDT)
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 18, 523

 

Starting Line-ups:

Substitutes:

Brisbane: Fitzgerald for Broich (50’), Nakajima- Farran for Henrique (75′)

Unused Subs: Mundy, Redmayne

 

Melbourne: Thompson for Solórzano (45’), Allsopp for Kewell (75’)

Unused Subs: Broxham, Velaphi

 

Both teams made one change each to their starting line-ups from last weekend with Nichols coming back in for the Roar replacing Fitzgerald, while Thompson’s injury was bad enough to keep him on the bench with Solórzano replacing him. Brisbane also promoted import Issey Nakajima-Farran to the bench following his 3 goal showing in Canberra, he replaced James Meyer.

 

Besart celebrated his new 2 year extension in style with another brace of goals, taking his tally to 15 and past Van Djik’s club record for goals in a season. He’s also only 4 behind the league high 19 set by Shane Smeltz from the GC days, and it’s not impossible to see him topping that. His 1st goal came early on obviously and while it seemed like a spectacular solo goal –and it was with the way he evaded 4 Victory defenders- the defence splitting pass from Broich to get the ball to him was class, and it’s a good example of why he was unable to score when Thomas wasn’t in the side.

 

The 2nd goal reminded me of a goal we saw recently from the Roar down in Gosford when they played the ball from the back to the front quickly and with 3 simple passes. Against the Mariners it started with a free kick from Theoklitos and ended up with a delightful pass from Murdocca playing in Berisha, but on this occasion it was a more constructed play and it totally picked Victory apart.

 

 

When Smith picked the ball up at the back there was no pressure on him and he had the chance to play out, and they even left Franjic time to control, assess the options and pick his pass with very little pressure. That was Victory’s 1st mistake, you have to put some pressure onto the Roar and stop them playing out, or your going to get dismantled like they did on this occasion. From there this goal is once again down to Thomas Broich and his craftiness because the position he took up behind the midfield trio of the Victory immediately meant that they were out of the play and he could run at the defenders. The run down the right by Henrique was extremely well timed and much like the Fitzgerald run in Gosford where he went early to get the vital half yard gap, Henrique did likewise. From there it was pretty basic really, Henrique slides the ball across the penalty area to the back post where Berisha made his run away from the defenders and he gets the tap in, Beautiful goal- simple in its execution, but extremely well taken.

 

While there were positive signs on the offensive side of the ball, there were still a couple of concerning factors in defence that reared their heads this past weekend. Take Victory’s 1st goal for example:

 

 

There was a 50/50 ball 5 yards inside Brisbane’s half between Paartalu and Rojas which Rojas won comfortably. That to me shouldn’t happen not least because of the fact that Paartalu is twice the size of the diminutive Rojas, and the young Kiwi won the contest easily. The net effect of that is that the back 4 was exposed because Murdocca, Nichols and Stefanutto were in advanced positions expecting Paartalu to win possession in that spot.

 

From there Rojas had free license to run at the Roar defence and the smart thing he did here was draw in Smith, Murdocca who had tracked back, Adnan and Franjic which opened up multiple passing options for Rojas. He could have slid in Solórzano at the near post who as we know is deadly in the box, he could have tried a cute little ball between Adnan and Franjic for Hernandez –although that would have been a low % place, but instead he chose the completely free Harry Kewell who was ghosting in at the back post completely unnoticed, and that’s the big issue with this play on defence. The root of the problem was that Franjic had come too far across providing cover that wasn’t really required and he left his man free ghosting in and Kewell is the last man in the Victory team id be leaving free.
On the 2nd goal its been run to death in the media so im sure most are aware it was a simple square pass from Thomas that Kewell picked off, but there’s two points id like to make about it. Victory did a good job at closing him down on this occasion and forcing him to look square rather than forwards and the other was the way that Kewell just blew past Adnan like he was just standing there. Im not sure if that was due to Adnan defending poorly or Kewell simply having high confidence and a head of steam up.

 

Player Ratings:

Brisbane: Theoklitos 7, Franjic 6, Adnan 7, Smith 6, Stefanutto 6, Paartalu 6, Murdocca 7, Nichols 6, Broich 8, Henrique 7, Berisha 8, Issey 6, Fitzgerald 6.

 

Melbourne: Covic 6, Franjic 6, Leijer 6, Luzardo 6, Fabio 6, Milligan 6, Jeggo 6, Rojas 7, Hernandez 7, Kewell 8, Solórzano 6, Thompson 6, Allsopp 6.

 

Statistics:


Match Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

 

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory

Suncorp Stadium

Saturday 7.45pm (EDT)

Fox Sports 1HD

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Brisbane Roar

1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith (C), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 12. Matt Mundy, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich, 24. Nick Fitzgerald *two to be omitted*

In: Issey Nakajima-Farran, Jack Hingert (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Rocky Visconte (Qantas Australian U23 duty), Matt Jurman (Qantas Australian U23 duty)

Melbourne Victory

1. Tando Velaphi (GK), 3. Fabio, 4. Petar Franjic, 5.Mark Milligan, 6. Leigh Broxham, 7. Matthew Kemp, 9. Jean Carlos Solórzano, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 14. Billy Celeski, 16.Carlos Hernandez, 17.Jimmy Jeggo, 18. Danny Allsopp, 21. Ante Covic (GK), 22. Harry Kewell, 23. Adrian Leijer (c), 24. Ubay Luzardo *two to be omitted*

In: Matthew Kemp, Billy Celeski (both returning from injury)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Grant Brebner (injured), Diogo Ferreira (Qantas Australian U23 duty), Matthew Foschini (Qantas Australian U23 duty), Isaka Cernak (Qantas Australian U23 duty)

 

Season form:

Brisbane: WWWWDDWWLLLLLWDDWDLWW

Melbourne Victory: DLDWDDDWLDWDDDWDLDDDW

 

Season record vs. Melbourne Victory:

Saturday November 5- Melbourne Victory (Thompson 10’, 21’) 2-2 Brisbane Roar FC (Henrique 6’, Broich 27’)

Saturday December 31- Brisbane Roar (Nichols 44’, Visconte 50’, Franjic 53’) 3-1 Melbourne Victory (Kewell 3’)

 

Top scorers:

Brisbane: Besart Berisha (13)

Melbourne Victory: Archie Thompson (7)

 

Assists:

Brisbane: Thomas Broich (5)

Melbourne Victory: Archie Thompson (4)

 

All-time record against Melbourne Victory:

Total: Played 20: Won 6, Drawn 4, Lost 10. Goals for 24, Goals against 32.

 

At Suncorp Stadium:

Total: Played 9: Won 3, Drawn 1, Lost 5. Goals for 8, Goals against 10.

 

Both sides will be in all likelihood be going into this fixture with unchanged line-ups following last start victories over what were the top 2 sides in the league. For Brisbane, I really cannot see any changes to the starting line-up, however Ange could be tempted to change something on the bench. Jack Hingert is available again after ankle trouble and Issey scored a hat-trick down in Canberra last weekend.

 

My guess on the Brisbane line-up: Theoklitos, Franjic, Adnan, Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Broich, Henrique, Berisha, Fitzgerald. Subs: Redmayne, Hingert, Nichols, Meyer.

 

For Victory there are two key issues for them to resolve, and they both revolve around fitness- are Leijer and Thompson fit to play? Leijer’s been carrying his injury through games for the past couple of weeks so expect him to be there, and it seems like Archie will be in as well. Here’s a quote from a Brisbane Times article today outlining the situation.

Star striker Archie Thompson is expected to make the trip after pulling up with hamstring tightness early in the week. If he doesn’t start, Magilton may be tempted to give Jean Carlos Solórzano the opportunity.

Imo they’ll both play, and here’s my guess on who will join them: Covic, Franjic, Luzardo, Leijer, Fabio, Rojas, Milligan, Hernandez, Jeggo, Kewell, Thompson. Subs: Velaphi, Broxham, Allsopp, Solórzano.

 

Key’s to the game:

Brisbane:

Once again, the buzz word of the week for these two sides is continuation with both sides finding some of their best form in the finals run in. For Brisbane it will be important to get off to a far better start than they did the last time the 2 sides met when Kewell scored inside of 3 minutes. The best attacking opportunities will probably come down the flanks because imo Franjic and Fabio aren’t the greatest in a defensive sense so it would be advantageous to get Fitzgerald, Henrique, Stefanutto and Franjic running at them. I somewhat expect Broich to also float into wide areas on the left side to try and capitalise on this as well. Paartalu’s passing game has also picked up again following a midseason dip, and once again he will be pivotal in controlling and maintaining possession. Murdocca –who breaks the Roar appearance record in this match- will also be important in this regard, and his form over the past month is possibly the best it’s been. In a defensive sense the biggest key is to be vigilant with the offside trap, Victory are known for attempting to burst through the trap- especially with Archie on the counter attack and they had great success with it in Melbourne earlier this season.

 

Melbourne:

Like the Roar, Victory are also coming in confident and wanting to continue on following their 2-1 win over the Mariners last Friday. The biggest change for them was moving Milligan into that controlling midfield role where Celeski, Brebner and Broxham have all played this season, to little effect. With Milligan in that role they looked in more control and had someone with good distribution getting the ball to Kewell and co. Closing him down, assuming he starts at CM again will be a crucial part in stopping the Victory.  There has also been some conjecture about their style of play under Magilton as he’s opted to play both direct (GC in Launceston) and short passing (Mariners last Friday). I think they may well try a combination of both would work best for them where in general they look to maintain possession, but where possible they look to counter similar to what they did at Etihad. Apart from that you know what you’re going to get from the Victory with all that attacking talent and big names, their biggest problem has been putting it all together every week, hopefully they don’t tomorrow night.


How the squad shapes up moving forward:

 

Im sure by now everyone reading this is well aware that Brisbane has agreed to terms with Besart Berisha to extend his contract through the 2013/2014 A-League season, which is fantastic news. Berisha is 1 goal away from being the top scoring Roar player in a season, so to tie down a striker with a super impressive game to goals ratio is a big boost to the club going forward. The question now is, where too from here with player retention and recruitment? A quick look at the list of contacted players shows that the vast majority of the players are contracted for next season and beyond. The below information is taken from the SFCU forum A-League contracts thread which has up to date information on player contacts.

 

Contract expires end of season 2012/13:

#1) Michael Theoklitos

#3) Shane Stefanutto

#4) Matt Jurman

#5) Ivan Franjic

#6) Eric Paartalu

#9) Kofi Danning

#13) Henrique De Andrade Silva

#14) Rocky Visconte

#17) Mitch Nichols

#18) Luke Brattan

#19) Jack Hingert

#21) James Meyer

#22) Thomas Broich

 

Contract expires end of season 2013/14:

#2) Matt Smith

#7) Besart Berisha

#8) Massimo Murdocca

#28) Anthony Proia

 

That leaves the following players with expiring contracts at the end of this campaign:

 

#11) Issey- Nakajima- Farran

#12) Matt Mundy

#16) Sayed Mohamed Adnan

#20) Andrew Redmayne (signed with Melbourne Heart)

 

The last time I did a post along these lines I suggested that Issey should probably go and that Mundy and Adnan were on the bubble, that was in early January. Since then Adnan has gone on to cement his place at the heart of the defence and for mine should be the next priority to re-sign. Mundy I think is probably destined to be released back to the state leagues, purely because he’s not a ‘young’ player anymore and has failed to break into the squad on a regular basis. In addition to that he hasn’t really stood out amongst the youth squad when he has featured in that competition, and imo there’s a couple of defenders in that squad who could make the step up.

 

There are two points to keep in mind when discussing this kind of thing, and they are potential changes to the way A-League squads are constructed. Keep in mind that neither of these are 100% official to my knowledge, but they have garnered a large amount of newspaper column inches and are likely to be introduced next season.

 

1)      The foreigner limit is reportedly being reduced from 5 to 4, which makes it impossible to retain Issey, Adnan and the 3 contracted foreign boys next season, unless Henrique is eligible to undertake Australian citizenship, but that’s unlikely to happen anyway since Issey is all but gone. It may however give Adnan a few sleepless nights if Brisbane decides to head in a different direction with their final foreign spot.

 

2)       There are numerous A-League owners who want to abolish the current rule which limits squads to a maximum of 23 players. The next effect of this would basically be that clubs would be able to sign as many players as they wish, and could afford. The salary cap would remain in place, but would possibly be increased to accommodate more players.