Match Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Central Coast Mariners

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Likely line-ups:
Brisbane: Theo, Franjic, North, Jurman, Stefanutto, Murdocca, Brattan, Lustica, Nichols, Berisha, Broich.
Subs: Acton, Hingert, Halloran, Nijland.
Omitted: Brown, Meyer, Doe.

 

Central Coast: Ryan, Sainsbury, Anderson, Zwaanswijk, Rose, McGlinchey, Hutchinson, Bozanic, Caceres, Ibini, McBreen.
Subs: Pasfield, Griffiths, Duke, Sterjovski.
Omitted: McDonald.

 

 

This week for Brisbane were finally going to see the debut of fringe Socceroos defender Jade North, and new Dutch attack Stefan Nijland (likely). That posed some interesting selection dilemmas for Mulvey however because he and the Roar have been relatively upfront in the past couple of weeks, instead of speculating on it, I can report what is likely to be done. The midfield will reportedly change slightly to incorporate Lustica alongside Murdocca and Brattan, assumedly that means atleast one of those three will be given license to get forward at times. It also however means that Nichols and Broich are now the wide players in this formation which is nothing new for either of them, it’s just a tactical switch for them.

 

 

The one area of the team that’s still up in the air is the subs bench with reserve keeper Acton the only guarantee to be there. Id say despite his solid game last week, Corey Brown will find himself losing out to Hingert as the defensive cover. From there a lot depends on Nijland- it’s extremely unlikely he’ll start but if he’s fresh today expect him to be there. That leaves you three players for just the one spot- with regular Ben Halloran, new youngster Julius Doe and goal scorer last week James Meyer fighting for it. On form- it should go to Meyer imo, but the man most likely to get the job is Halloran.

 

The change to a midfield trio of Brattan, Lustica and Murdocca is an interesting one, however it could reap big rewards this week. Having this trio gives Brisbane the possibility to control the game a lot more because Brattan and Lustica are good distributors and can kick start attacks for Brisbane, while Murdocca’s high energy game helps break up opposition attacks. It also moves Thomas Broich back into a wide left role- one where he’s continually dominated the Mariners in the past two seasons and with no Bojic in the side the left side could be a good attacking avenue for Brisbane tonight.

 

 

If he’s in the squad, I think the introduction of Nijland could see a slight tweaking of the formation, back to a 4-2-3-1 as we’ve become accustomed to under Mulvey. This would see Nijland replace one of the three central midfielders and play in front of the two remaining midfielders and just in behind Berisha as a #10/second striker. Im actually really looking forward to seeing what Nijland brings as he’s obviously got a decent amount of quality given his parent club, and he’s still young and able to match the physical intensity of this league.

 

Once again this season the Mariners have been a model of consistency and sit clear at the top of the table and Arnold has got them far and away more organised than any side in the competition. At times in defence Arnold’s team this year resembles a 4-1-4-1 formation with Hutchinson in a role just in front of the back 4 and Ibini tucking in on one flank which severely constricts the space for teams, so if Brisbane win the ball they have to get it forward quickly before the Mariners get set in defence.

 

 

In attack a lot remains to be seen now Rogic has departed for Celtic Recent capture from the Roar Nick Fitzgerald, and a young kid we’ll likely see tonight in Anthony Caceres will be given the rather challenging job of replacing him. They do however have the leagues leading scorer in Daniel McBreen to fall back on. McBreen has been in career best form this season so look for him to put Brisbane’s new central defensive pairing to the test tonight.
Central Coast however have a rather dismal record against Brisbane in recent times however and especially at Suncorp Stadium where ofcourse they suffered that bitter disappointment in the Grand Final. They have also seen a slight dip in form throughout the month of January, however when you’ve got three of your key players away trialing for other clubs and you have to play the teams 2nd and 3rd on the table as well as a local derby it is somewhat understandable.  Like the consistent juggernaut they are under Arnold however they’re still unbeaten in five and were back to their clinical and ruthless best last week against then 2nd placed Adelaide.

Brisbane showed possibly the beginning of a return to form for a charge towards the finals, but tonight they face the leagues toughest test at the moment. A good result here will make a real statement and give the team the positive mood once again coming up to a massive week with big A-League games and a knockout ACL qualifier.

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