Match preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Central Coast Mariners

 

Saturday, 4 February 2012
Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar

Venue: Bluetongue Stadium
Local kick-off: 5:30pm

Referees: Kris Griffiths Jones / Shaun Evans / Rod Allen / Stephen Lucas

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 25): Central Coast Mariners wins 4, Brisbane Roar wins 12 (9 draws)

Live and Exclusive on Fox Sports 1 at 4.30pm (pregame from 4.00pm)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Josh Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Brad Porter, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 8. Rostyn Griffiths, 9. Bernie Ibini, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 12. Troy Hearfield, 13. Stuart Musialik, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Tomas Rogic, 18. Alex Wilkinson (C), 21. Sam Gallagher, 23. Adam Kwasnik, 31. Brody Crane (Gk)
*four to be omitted*

In: 5. Brad Porter, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 13. Stuart Musialik, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Tomas Rogic, 21. Sam Gallagher (all promoted), 31. Brody Crane (short term contract)
Out: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk) (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 11. Oliver Bozanic (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 22. Mustafa Amini (Qantas Australian U23 duty)
Unavailable: 7. John Hutchinson (suspended – 1 week)

Brisbane Roar Squad: Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith, 3. Shane Stefanutto (C), 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 18. Luke Brattan, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich, 24. Nick Fitzgerald.
*One to be omitted*

In: 7. Besart Berisha (returns from suspension), 9. Kofi Danning (Promoted) 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran (promoted)
Out: 14. Rocky Visconte (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 4. Matt Jurman (Qantas Australian U23 duty), 17. Mitch Nichols (Qantas Australian U23 duty)
Unavailable: 19. Jack Hingert (ankle injury – 1 week)

 

Season form:

Brisbane: WWWWDDWWLLLLLWDDWDL

Central Coast: LDLWWDWWWWWWDWWDWW

 

Season record vs. Central Coast:

Round 1: Brisbane Roar (Nichols 78’) 1-0 Central Coast Mariners

Round 11: Brisbane Roar (Danning 83’) 1-2 Central Coast Mariners (Amini 6’, Bojic 45’)

Top scorers:

Brisbane: Besart Berisha (11)

Central Coast: Matt Simon (7)

Assists:

Brisbane: Thomas Broich (5)

Central Coast: Michael McGlinchey (6)

All-time record against Central Coast:

Played 25: Won 12, Drawn 9, Lost 4. Goals for 46. Goals against 34. Goal dif +12.

 

At Bluetongue Stadium:

Played 11: Won 7, Drawn 4, Lost 0. Goals for 26. Goals against 14. Goal dif +12

 

Brisbane will go into this one making at least two changes to the squad with Nichols and Jurman away on international duty. The positive is that Berisha is back in the fold for this week, and he’ll be joined in the squad by 1 of Issey or Kofi Danning. My hope is that it’s Kofi, purely because of the fact that he has had an impact against the Mariners in the two matches against them this season. Berisha will obviously return to his starting role in what imo will be the only change to the starting XI. Originally I wasn’t expecting to see George Lambadaridis promoted to the 1st team for this game, and while I can see Ange springing a surprise and starting him as a straight swap for Nichols, my best guess is that he’ll start on the bench. My guess at Brisbane’s starting side is: Theoklitos, Franjic, Smith, Adnan, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Broich, Henrique, Berisha and Fitzgerald with a substitute’s bench of Redmayne, Lambadaridis, Meyer and Danning. Broich would in this formation drop back into the  left centre midfield role he had earlier in the season, with Murdocca moving over to the right central midfield spot vacated by Nichols. As I mentioned above there’s an outside chance that Lambadaridis starts, that would likely result in Broich playing left wing and Fitzgerald dropping to the bench. In that case Brattan may also be on the bench.

 

The one issue here this weekend is that there is no defensive cover named in the squad at all. Jurman is away on international duty, Hingert has a knock on his ankle and Matt Mundy is quiet frankly not in good enough form to take a bench spot. There’s always a slim chance that one of the youth defenders gets a last min call up, but if that doesn’t happen where’s the cover? Well- it’s not quite as bad as you may think, infact there’s 3 possible options. The 1st is that Luke Brattan can play at RB, with Franjic moving into the centre. Brattan has played at RB in pre-season in the past and could probably fake the position well enough to get through this week if needed. The second is a similar idea and involves James Meyer- im sure most remember that when he 1st trialled wit the Roar he played at RB, but although he did it vs. local league sides im not sure id trust him at the back in such a big game. The 3rd and most likely is that big Erik Paartalu drops back into the defence with Brattan coming on in midfield to replace him. So there you have it 3 possible options at the back should the need arise.

 

This is probably the ideal time to play the Mariners given they’ll be without shot stopper extraordinaire Matt Ryan and midfield trio Mustafa Amini, Oliver Bozanic and John Hutchinson. They will be boosted with the possible addition of John Sutton- a striker from Motherwell signed to help replace Matt Simon. There are no shortage of options available to Arnold for this game, but given he has to replace 3 of his midfielders it’s going to be tough for them. At a guess –and it should be noted there’s nothing certain about any of this, just pure speculation on my part- their starting XI could be: Pasfield, Bojic, Wilkinson, Zwaanswijk, Rose, Griffiths, McGlinchey, Musialik, McBreen, Hearfield, Ibini with a substitutes bench of Rogic, Pellegrino, Sainsbury and backup keeper Brodie Crane.

 

Over the course of the season Arnold has shown that he prefers to play one of McBreen or Hearfield in the #10 role when Amini isn’t available and I can see him employing a similar strategy tomorrow. One will push high and support Ibini, the other will sit a bit deeper. The one position I really have no idea about is their LCM role in their narrow midfield diamond. The position could be filled by any of Porter, McDonald, Pellegrino, Rogic or Musialik but I went for Musialik purely because of the fact that he can step in and help keep the ball for them. Despite 442 claiming Sutton is a chance of playing, I don’t see it happening- at most he makes a 15 minute cameo off the bench.

 

Keys to the game:

The two matches this season vs. the Mariners were very different affairs. In the 1st clash in round 1 Brisbane battered the Mariners, especially in the middle of the park which forced Arnold to change from a diamond in midfield to a flat 4 across the middle because Brisbane were simply destroying them in wide areas. The second match was almost the total opposite with the Mariners setting up to stop the Roar from exploiting that space, and they got a bit of luck with their 1st goal which always helps. Im not overly concerned by that game though because of the fact Brisbane were lacking almost all of their attacking firepower that night and still nearly won a point at the death.

 

I won’t go into the defence too much this week, all I’ll say is this: come on guys, enough is enough, time to cut the sloppy errors out of the game.  The big threat here is obviously Ibini with his pace in behind. To counter that Brisbane need to do one of the following: 1) have Smith and Adnan sit slightly deeper in defence, or 2) make sure Theo is well off his line and capable of coming out to thwart him, otherwise the space between the defence and keeper is too large and the Mariners will have a field day playing balls in behind the defence for Ibini to run onto.

 

So how can the Roar hurt the Mariners? Well, they can hurt them in the wide areas, with quick tricky players and good interplay. We saw up here at Suncorp how Danning managed to dominate Rose off the bench and I think he’s destined for a similar role tomorrow night. Henrique is also more that capable of this and he hasn’t had his chance to play them this season. Add to that the mercurial German Broich who isn’t pleased with the lack of results, Berisha who will want to make a point and Fitzgerald who will be fired up against his former side, I think there are multiple goals in this Roar side, question is can they keep them out?

 

Really looking forward to this match tomorrow, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mariners and how good they are, a large part of me hopes we go down there and destroy them to show a real sign of intent going into the finals, even if the premiers plate is all but won for the Central Coast Chokers Mariners. Kickoff is at 4.30 on Fox with a pregame show from 4.00, and if you don’t have Foxtel you get live match updates on our Facebook page.

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