Finals week 1 preview: Adelaide United vs. Brisbane Roar

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The finals are here, and Brisbane are just 3 games from a 3rd successive championship, however unlike previous years they’ll be doing this solely on the road, starting on Sunday afternoon down in Adelaide. Brisbane has the advantage in this one with two extra days of recovery/preparation, although that is negated somewhat by the travel factor.

 

Squads:
Brisbane:
1. Michael Theo (gk), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 10. Henrique, 11. Ben Halloran, 12. Julius Doe, 13. Jade North, 14. Steven Lustica, 15. James Donachie, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich (c), 21. James Meyer, 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown

 

Adelaide: 1.Eugene Galekovic (c), 2.Osama Malik, 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Iain Fyfe, 6.Cassio, 8.Marcelo Carrusca, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite, 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 15.Jacob Melling, 16.Daniel Bowles, 17.Iain Ramsay, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 19.Jake Barker-Daish, 20.Paul Izzo (gk), 21.Jeronimo Neumann, 22.Fabio Ferreira, 23.Evan Kostopoulos, 24.Awer Mabil, 25.Tomi Juric

 

 

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

 

 

Adelaide: Galekovic, Malik, Boogaard, Golec, Cassio, McKain, Carrusca, Ferreira, Vidosic, Ramsay, Juric.
Subs: Izzo, Bowles, Barbiero, Neumann, Djite.
Omitted: Fyfe, Melling, Barker-Daish, Kostopoulos, Mabil, Watson.

 

 

Form:
Brisbane: WWLDW
Adelaide: DLDWL

 

Top Scorers:
Brisbane:
Besart Berisha (14)
Adelaide:
Dario Vidosic (9)

 

 

Season against Adelaide United:
Round 5: 
Brisbane Roar 0-1 Adelaide United (Vidosic 3’)
Round 13: Adelaide United 0-1 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 66’)
Round 23:Adelaide United 0-1 Brisbane Roar (Halloran 82’)

 

 

Brisbane are coming into this finals series with some real form behind them –one loss in five matches- and what’s more important is that they’ve finally got a settled team which functions in a way that best utilises it’s best players. It’s no accident that Berisha and Broich have began to play to their maximum once again, and it’s in no small part down to the changes made in recent weeks. Settling on Nichols in the role behind Berisha has worked and made Berisha more dangerous, due to the fact he’s not dropping off the front like for Nijland to play upfront. Behind them in the midfield the combination of Lustica and Brattan is a young one, but it’s been extremely effective with Brattan getting the ball forward quicker than Paartalu was doing capitalising on the space –especially in the wider areas with Franjic on the right- on the counter attack. Lustica meanwhile does a lot of good work that often goes unnoticed in the middle and he’s also added a goalscoring touch to his game which is valuable.

 

 

Brisbane have also had one of the league’s best defences in recent weeks with Theo, and the back four all coming into some very solid form, infact they went some 400 minutes without conceding following the ACL exit which helped solidify things, and is a sign that the North- Donachie combination has gelled nicely. The addition of Hingert has also brought in more stability to the side and allowed Franjic to really push on which he’s done to maximum effect for Brisbane in recent weeks.

 

Adelaide in comparison are in probably the worst form going into the finals, with just one win in their last five matches and an air of uncertainty around the place with the coaching situation looming as a distraction over the squad. They’ve still got enough about them however to pose a real threat however, with Vidosic in the creative role, and either Juric, Djite or Neumann upfront and quality out wide in Carrusca, Ferreira and Ramsay. At the back they’re solid aswell with one of the leagues best keepers in Galekovic and a solid defensive unit in front of him which will likely include Jon McKain as the #6, or deep lying midfielder. Malik’s switch from defensive midfielder under Kosmina to the right back role under Valkanis has also been an interesting and reasonably successful move, and how he deals with the threat of Thomas Broich could be a deciding factor in this match.

 

 

Brisbane owns the season record 2-1 over Adelaide, but all three matches have been close affairs. Adelaide won the 1st encounter with an early Dario Vidosic free-kick, which was followed by unsuccessful Brisbane pressure, while the second game was a largely scrappy affair which brought Mulvey’s 1st win as Roar coach via a nice bit of play from Nichols and a finish from Henrique. The most recent meeting was also down in Adelaide and this was an unremarkable game with Brisbane controlling proceedings with Adelaide having one of their poorer days. Ben Halloran stepped up late to give Brisbane the three points on that occasion. Although it should be pointed out that Brisbane’s record all up in Adelaide isn’t the best, with a few painful season ending defeats –most notably the Prelim final of 2009- occurring down in the city of churches. Hopefully the season record holds true and Brisbane are into a Grand Final qualifier next weekend against either Western Sydney or CentralCoast.

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