Brisbane end season with draw against Beijing

 

It’s been a long season that began some 12 months ago on a cold Friday night down in Redlands and it finally came to an end last night on a cold night at ‘Brisbane Stadium’ where Brisbane Roar and Beijing Guo’an played out a meaningless game to conclude their involvement in the 2012 ACL. Besart Berisha gave Brisbane the early lead before Li Hanbao scored a spectacular equaliser for the visitors.

 

Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 15’)
Beijing Guoan 1
(LI Hanbao 34’)
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Brisbane Stadium, Milton, Brisbane
Referee:
Ali Albadwawi (UAE)
Crowd: 5,615

 

Starting Line-ups:

 

Brisbane:
Substitutes: Meyer for Nichols (76’), Brattan for Paartalu (81’)

Un-used Subs: Acton, Donachie, Visconte, Lambadaridis, Fitzgerald
Yellow Cards: Nichols, Berisha, Franjic
Red Cards: Nil

Beijing:
Substitutes: Jiayi for Kaluderovic (50’), Li Hanbao for Changqing (74’) Jianqing for Xiaobin (77’)
Un-used Subs: Hou Sen, Xu Youlong, Zhang Xinxin, Zhang Jiam
Yellow Cards: Xu Wu, Jiao Zhe
Red Cards: Nil

Brisbane reverted back to the same midfield formation as the Postecoglou era with just the one holding midfielder and two men infront of him, and for mine the players just seem to suit this specific midfield set-up better. The other two quick points that I picked up purely from who was selected and who wasn’t:
– Mundy would appear to be gone, given he couldn’t even make the bench, with     young Donachie appearing to be preferred in the backup defender role.

– Acton would appear to be destined to be the backup keeper given he was selected ahead of Redmayne on the bench.
Brisbane began the game with a very quick tempo and had multiple chances in the opening twenty minutes and in truth could have been 2 or 3 nil infront if they had of got on the end of a thing or two.  Brisbane did take the lead and it had to be Besart Berisha who got on the end of a good cross from Kofi Danning to slot home point blank from almost the same spot as he did in the Grand Final. The lead-up was also beautiful with the seemingly Denmark bound Mitch Nichols playing a great ball through to Danning who took up a great position in the inside right channel.
Despite the fact Brisbane were on top Beijing got themselves back into the game with around 10 minutes of the 1st half remaining when Beijing won the ball and broke forward quickly resulting in Li Hanbao rifling a shot into the top corner of the net giving Theoklitos no real chance. 1-1, and that’s how the scores stayed going into the halftime break.

Brisbane weren’t content to accept a 3rd straight home failure in the ACL and really went for it in the 2nd half launching countless raids on the Beijing net, but they just couldn’t get the finish to round it all off. Nichols, Paartalu and Meyer all tested the keeper before Besart Berisha again got a shot off, but this time he could only find the woodwork. The game ended 1-1, with Brisbane failing to win a game in their maiden AFC Champions League. Roll on next season where they’ll get another chance to leave their mark on the continental showpiece.
One other quick thing:-  Congratulations to young Corey Brown, who played very well on debut for mine, he did he job and didn’t seem to show any nerves in such a big game. Perhaps he was out of position for their equaliser but he’s young and will learn. Besides- he’s not the only one guilty of that this ACL campaign.

AFC Champions League Matchday 6 Group F results:
Brisbane Roar 1-1 Beijing Guo’an

Ulsan Hyundai 1-0 FC Tokyo

 

Final Group F Table:


 

 

Player ratings:
Brisbane:
Theoklitos 7, Franjic 7, Adnan 7, Jurman 7, Brown 7, Paartalu 7, Murdocca 7, Nichols 7, Danning 8, Berisha 8, Broich 7, Brattan 7, Meyer 7.

Beijing: Bai 8, Yu Yang 7, Xizhe 6, Yun Yang 6, Xiaobin 7, Wu Xu 7, Lang 6, Yifan 7, Hanbao 8, Jiao Zhe 6, Shao Jiayi 7, Wang 6, Kaluderovic 6, Jianqing 6.

Stats: (from Football Federation Australia Website)


Asian Champions League Matchday 6 preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Beijing Guo’an

Brisbane Roar round out their maiden AFC Champions League tomorrow night against Beijing Guo’an and unfortunately there is nothing on the line for either side with both eliminated from the competition. Both sides come into this game with two draws and three defeats so this is a great opportunity to get a 1st ever win in the ACL.

 

ACL Table:

 

Asian Champions League form:
Brisbane:
LDDLL
Beijing:  LDDLL

Brisbane Roar

Squad:

 

Team News:

Brisbane are going into this one far from full strength with multiple players unavailable. For starters Jack Hingert was already out for the season with an ankle injury he sustained in the 2nd leg of the major semi-final last month but he’s now been joined on the injured list by skipper Matt Smith, Vice-captain Shane Stefanutto and Brazilian Henrique. For those that haven’t heard Smith got an arm infection over in Tokyo while Stefanutto and Henrique both picked up leg injuries on the training ground last week.

 

In terms of replacements Matt Jurman will step into the centre of defence to partner Adnan, and Fitzgerald will likely deputise for Henrique again like he did in Tokyo. At left back it’s a 3 horse race between Mundy, Brown and Visconte and both have their pro’s and cons. Visconte is the most match fit of the 3 but isn’t a natural defender and got exposed in the NYL while playing there. Brown is probably the best left back of the three but im not sure how much he’s played since the NYL ended 10 weeks ago now. Mundy is the most experienced of the trio and probably deserves the chance to show his worth but he’s been sporadically used at best this season and hasn’t really convinced. I suspect Mundy will get the chance tomorrow night.

 

Likely Brisbane line-up: Theoklitos, Franjic, Jurman, Adnan, Mundy, Paartalu, Murdocca, Nichols, Fitzgerald, Berisha, Broich.

Subs: Redmayne, Donachie, Brown, Visconte, Brattan, Danning, Meyer

  

Beijing Guo’an:
Squad:

Chinese Super League Table:

 

Beijing Results in CSL:

Beijing news:

Former Brisbane Roar striker and top scorer this season for Beijing with 4 goals Reinaldo is suspended for this match and thus will not be returning to Brisbane for this game. Fellow foreign striker Andrija Kaluderovic flattered to deceive on matchday 2 in China and the goal scoring onus will be on him once again. Darko Matic had a solid outing in the 1st encounter controlling play as Beijing pushed for all 3 points towards the end of the game and look for him once again to control the tempo.
 

Keys to the game:

On matchday two Brisbane controlled large amounts of possession and if Berisha and Henrique had their shooting boots on they could easily have brought the 3 points home. While their coach today indicated they’re coming here to win I think it’s a fair assumption that their attention has now turned to the domestic campaign. Meanwhile for Brisbane there is no reason to leave anything on the table given this will be their final game until pre-season training games begin in late July/early August. For mine Beijing are the weakest team in the group and we should be looking to round out our season with a win, and if we show up to play tomorrow night I think we’ll claim our maiden Asian Champions League victory.


Ben Halloran and what it means for next season

 

Im sure by now everyone’s heard that Ben Halloran is Brisbane’s 1st signing for the 2012/13 season and by switching from the ashes of the Gold Coast to Brisbane he becomes the 1st player to have played for GC to play for the Roar. Halloran –who turns 20 in June- has signed a 3 year deal which will see him in orange until the end of the 2014/2015 A-League season.

 

Those who regularly watched Gold Coast games last season know what kind of player Ben is but for those who didn’t see much of him he’s defiantly an excitement machine and continues the long line of tricky, pacey wingers we’ve seen in orange down the years. He’s very good at cutting inside from the wider positions and scored most of his goals this way last season. His overall record for GCU was: 26 games played, 4 goals scored. Not the greatest goals to games ratio but his game isn’t solely about goals, his pace and ability to beat defenders in wide positions created numerous chances for both himself and his teammates. In terms of his position he spent the majority of last season down the left for the Gold Coast and its in this position he played his best stuff although he did play out on the right at times aswell. While he can (apparently) play as a striker I think it’s fair to assume we’ll be seeing him more in the wider positions next season, which brings me to my next point.

 

In the wider areas Brisbane is already extremely strong with the likes of Broich, Henrique, Fitzgerald, Danning, Meyer and Visconte all signed on for next season. Perhaps we’ll be seeing one of them in a slightly different position next season? If the FC Tokyo game is anything to go by then we might be seeing Broich deployed in a more central #10 like position next season which would be interesting. There’s also a chance that one of them might be moving on by the start of next season. Either way Halloran’s a fine addition to what is a strength for Brisbane and gives Rado a positive selection headache.

 

So who is signed for next season? Well the majority of the squad is with only Matt Mundy and Sayed Mohamed Adnan left without contracts as of right now. Adnan reportedly has an offer on the table from Brisbane but wants to think about it before committing. Mundy on the other hand hasn’t featured heavily this season and could be headed back to the local competition.  There are also the 3 fulltime NYL players (Fitzgerald, Lambadaridis, and Brown) who to my knowledge haven’t been offered 1st team contracts. They originally signed on in those roles for two seasons but Brisbane might –and should imo- look to promote atleast Fitzgerald into the 1st team.

List of players signed:

Contract expires end of season 2012/13:
Michael Theoklitos

Matt Jurman
Shane Stefanutto
Ivan Franjic
Eric Paartalu
Kofi Danning
Henrique De Andrade Silva
Rocky Visconte
Mitch Nichols
Luke Brattan
Jack Hingert
James Meyer
Thomas Broich

Contract expires end of season 2013/14:
Matt Smith
Besart Berisha
Massimo Murdocca
Anthony Proia

Contract expires end of season 2014/15:
Ben Halloran

 

The signing of Halloran pushes the number of players to 18 so at the least we’ll see 2 more signings before the beginning of next season, but in truth I think we’ll see 3 more. We obviously need a 2nd goalkeeper and depending on who you speak to and your opinion on Theoklitos that could be a simple backup or somebody with the aim of replacing him. Personally I think we should just promote Acton- he’s good enough and has the experience to sit on the bench in the A-League. He can also learn from one of the best keepers in the competition.

We also need atleast one new defender, probably two and this is where the recruitment has to be spot on imo. We have one foreign spot to play with and getting a defender who can partner Smith should be the absolute #1 priority now. It could be Adnan but over the course of the season he’s looked shaky and has fallen short of the mark in the ACL. The other defender needs to be versatile enough to play both CB and FB. Perhaps this is a role for NYL player of the season James Donachie? With Jurman and Hingert being the primary backups for the defence there’s no reason why the 7th defender on the books couldn’t be a youngster.

 

Brisbane Roar 2012/13 squad as it stands, by position.

Goalkeepers: Theoklitos
Fullbacks: Franjic, Stefanutto, Hingert
Central Defenders: Smith, Jurman
Central Midfielders: Nichols, Brattan, Paartalu, Murdocca

Attacking Midfielders: Halloran, Broich, Visconte, Danning, Meyer, Henrique
Strikers: Berisha, Proia

 

One final point to close on: While new signings are important and are generally more exciting, most of this offseason imo is going to be about which of the players who are off contract at the end of next season are going to re-sign with the club given that the core of the side who’ve taken us to back to back championships are off contract.


Tokyo too good as Brisbane bow out

 

Well Brisbane’s attempt to become champions of Asia at the 1st attempt is officially over after last nights defeat in Tokyo after the Roar went down 4-2 despite taking a very early lead. Rado Vidosic in his 1st game in charge also made some alterations to both formation and personnel to the game plan which were rather interesting and worth discussing.

 

AFC Champions League – Match day 5
FC Tokyo 4 (Takahashi 5’, Mukuhara 20’, Watanabe 44’-pen, 60’)
Brisbane Roar 2 (Berisha 4’, Broich 33’)
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Venue:
National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan
Referee: Abdullah Baloushi (Qatar)

 

Starting Line-ups:

 

Brisbane:
Substitutes:
Nichols for Brattan (62’), Visconte for Meyer (62’), Jurman for Adnan (66’)
Unused Substitutes: Redmayne, Mundy, Murdocca, Danning

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards:
Nil

FC Tokyo:
Substitutes: Lucas for Watanabe (73’), Yonemoto for Hanyu (78’), Ishikawa for Kajiyama (85’)
Unused Substitutes: Shiota, Ota, Kawano, Shigematsu

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards:
Nil

 

Since the Postecoglou era began in two seasons ago now there has been no change to the clubs formation – two games in December/January aside- so it came as a surprise to me when the commentator mentioned a change to a 4-2-3-1 formation. While it isn’t the most drastic of changes in theory, it does almost completely re-configure the midfield setup. We went from having one screening midfielder and two midfielders who would break forward to support the attack to having two screening midfielder and another in the hole behind the striker. Here’s a little graphic to telestrate the difference:

The two big advantages to the Vidosic midfield are that with two controlling/defensive midfielders in there you should have far more control over possession of the ball, and that you have Broich in a creative role just in behind Berisha. The negative of it is that with no link between the defensive midfielders and the attacking ones it can become a little disjointed if there isn’t enough movement between the lines. Interesting to see if this is a one off tactic for this match or a more long term solution.

 

Brisbane got off to the perfect start in the quest to win the match by 3 clear goals to keep their faint progression hopes alive when they won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Thomas Broich whipped in a beautiful ball which Berisha managed to get on the end of –looked offside at 1st but man on far side kept him onside- but could only hit the base of the post before pouncing on the rebound. 1-0 Brisbane and the perfect start to the Rado Vidosic era.

 

 

That perfect start however would last less than 60 seconds with the hosts going straight down the other end of the pitch to draw level with Takahashi getting on the end of a blocked shot just outside the box before putting one bottom corner which also deflected off the post, but unlike Berisha’s effort this one found the net. In the lead-up Stefanutto was caught well out of position up the park with Yazawa getting in behind before crossing it towards the penalty spot from the by-line. From there Brisbane scrambled to cover and blocked the 1st shot, but could do nothing to stop the 2nd.

 
Tokyo then proceeded to take the lead in the match with a delightful counter attack. Brisbane who were having a decent spell lost the ball midway into the Tokyo half but coughed up possession far to casually and then the midfield trio of Hanyu, Hasegawa and Takahashi just flew up the park releasing the wide man who had acres of room given that Stefanutto had committed to the attack. From there they were just lethal with it and used their numbers to their advantage with two men making a run to the near post with left fullback Mukuhara ghosting in at the far post to finish it off. Expertly taken counter attack from a well drilled team.

 

Brisbane far from going into their shells continued to move forward and got their reward for effort when Broich levelled the scores in the 33rd minute with a nice piece of persistence. His 1st shot was blocked by Morishige but he kept at it and managed to find the corner of the net –albeit following a slight deflection from Jang- to make it 2-2.  Not the best goal Thomas has ever scored but a vital one.

 

Brisbane however would not go into the break on level terms as right on the stroke of halftime Adnan gave away his 2nd penalty in two ACL matches- this time for a clear foul on Watanabe. There was some debate in the commentary about inside/outside the box but for mine it’s a clear foul and there isn’t really a lot to complain about in truth. Watanabe dusted himself off and sent Theoklitos the wrong way to give the hosts a 3-2 lead which they would take with them to the break.

 

Watanabe then sealed the game as a contest on the hour mark with his 2nd goal following nearly 15 minutes of pressure from FC Tokyo- not in terms of chances created just in terms of territory, possession and their pressure on the ball. Watanabe slipped Adnan again and calmly in almost slow motion beat Theoklitos at his near post. That made it 4-2 to FC Tokyo which is how it ended and not Theoklitos’ or Adnan’s finest moment.

 

Brisbane played with more composure than they did on matchday one and were able to control the game for larger periods and created some decent openings for themselves. One of the key takeaways from MD1 was that they just couldn’t get the ball to Berisha and while he was again abit of a peripheral figure he was atleast more involved and got on the scoresheet. An improved performance compared to here in Brisbane but still not enough to match their Japanese counterparts.

 

 

FC Tokyo were once again just fabulous to watch with their interplay and while they weren’t as devastating in terms of cutting us open they still created enough openings and were lethal when they did get through taking their 3 goals from open play expertly. In midfield they really taught us a lesson on possession and ball movement with the trio of Hasegawa, Takahashi and Hanyu playing through the centre of our formation at ease and almost too easily. Their pressure on our playing out from the back was also very good –especially in the 1st half of the 2nd half- where they gave us absolutely no option at all but to look further up the field. It’s a key takeaway on how Brisbane can improve moving forward imo- not to say that their own pressure wasn’t good, just that FC Tokyo’s was a level above- something that could be said about the two teams in general tbh.

 

Player Ratings:
Brisbane: Theok
litos 6, Franjic 6, Adnan 5, Smith 6, Stefanutto 6, Brattan 6, Paartalu 6, Meyer 6, Broich 7, Fitzgerald 6, Berisha 7, Nichols 6, Visconte 6, Jurman 6.

FC Tokyo: Gonda 6, Tokunaga 6, Jang 6, Morishige 6, Mukuhara 7, Takahashi 8, Hasegawa 7, Hanyu 7, Yazawa 6, Watanabe 8, Kajiyama 6, Lucas 6, Yonemoto 6, Ishikawa 6.

 

AFC Champions League Table:

 

 
Brisbane Roar Yellow Card tracker:
Players 1 game from a ban: (carries over into next year im fairly sure)
Stefanutto, Franjic, Murdocca, Berisha.

Statistics:


 

Next up for Brisbane:
A home clash to round out the Group phase against Beijing Guo’an on Wednesday May 16.


Asian Champions League Matchday 5 preview: Brisbane Roar vs. FC Tokyo

 

There has been no shortage of news since the club defended its A-League Championship last Sunday- with Ange Postecoglou moving on to Melbourne Victory- but now its time to get back to matters on the park, with Matchday 5 of the ACL. Last time out Tokyo gave Brisbane a bit of a lesson so it will be interesting to see how far Brisbane has progressed in the Asian game. In order to keep their slim 2nd round hopes alive, Brisbane have to win by 3 goals so it should prove to be an entertaining encounter.

 

Asian Champions League table:

 

Asian Champions League form:
Brisbane:
LDDL
Tokyo: WDDW

 

Brisbane Roar squad:

 

FC Tokyo squad:

 

Stadium:

National Stadium (Kokuritsu Kyōgijō)
Capacity:
48,000
* FC Tokyo’s home ground is actually Ajinomoto Stadium but for some reason they decided to play this fixture -and the Matchday 2 home game against Ulsan- at the National Stadium.

 

 

Brisbane:

Team news:

Rado has pretty much the full squad at his disposal for his 1st hit out as head coach with only Henrique Silva (home for his child’s birth) and Jack Hingert (ankle) not travelling. I presume were going to see the same XI who lined up in the Grand Final last weekend with the only change being  Nick Fitzgerald coming in to replace Henrique. There’s a chance that Rado might give some of the fringe members a game such as Meyer and Brattan but I don’t see it in this game, possibly on Matchday 6 if that game is a dead rubber but not here.

 

Expected starting line-up: Theoklitos, Franjic, Smith, Adnan, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Nichols, Fitzgerald, Berisha, Broich.
Subs: Redmayne, Mundy, Jurman, Brattan, Visconte, Meyer, Danning

 

FC Tokyo:
J-League form:

 

Lessons learnt:

When we played FC Tokyo on Matchday it was abit of an eye opener in terms of the difference between the A-League and the rest of Asia- both in terms of our play and theirs. In a defensive sense it’s kind of difficult to judge them because we didn’t have a great deal of chances in the game, but their goalkeeper (Gonda) did look suspect at set pieces.

 

In the midfield this is where they really taught the Roar some lessons and it will be interesting to see how Brisbane responds tonight. At Suncorp time and again they played straight through with short passes which cut straight through the Brisbane defensive press with Hanyu and Hasegawa being key in that. The two wide players on the night (Yazawa and Ishikawa) were neat and tidy without being spectacular often making inside to out runs creating more space through the middle. Upfront Watanabe did a decent job but was caught offside fairly often- but this time it’s assumed that Brazilian talisman Lucas Severino playing upfront.

 

Keys to the game:
Obviously for Brisbane to be in the hunt for the 2nd round they need to win this game by 3 goals so if that’s the objective then at some point Vidosic is going to have to go for it, but from the start atleast it’s important for the boys to get into the rhythm of their play. We saw in the 1st game both of these sides like to play possession football playing out from the back (albeit in different ways) and are accomplished at doing so, therefore it will be important to atleast maintain an equal share of the ball. Brisbane struggled to get the ball to Berisha who I think got about 3 touches all night in the game- so it will be essential to get some supply to the Albanian who will no doubt will still have confidence flowing through him following his brace on Grand Final day. In that respect it will be upto the midfielders to do a better job of bringing him into the game-especially Broich through who so much good comes for Brisbane.

 

Brisbane ofcourse had the weekend off following the Grand Final 10 days ago- although im not sure if that will be a benefit or a hindrance for the boys. We saw on Matchday 4 when they had 9 days between games that they started a little flat and if they do that again then they could be in some trouble early. They will however be fresher than their Japanese opponents who had a game of their own at the weekend- they lost 1-0 at home to Shimuzu S-Pulse, home of former Roar striker Alex Brosque. Tokyo themselves haven’t been in good form of late winning just one of their last 5 games domestically. That form however hasn’t carried over to the ACL where they’re currently unbeaten however. On their home patch this season in both competitions they’ve won 2, drawn 1 and lost 3- so they are beatable at home and hopefully Brisbane prove that tonight and register their 1st win in the Asian Champions League.