Round 1 Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar

Phoenix

It’s back, after 6 months the A-League is back and Brisbane kick off their season across the Tasman against the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday. This is the 2nd time Brisbane have played Wellington away from home in the 1st round- with a 1-1 draw in season 4 where Charlie Miller and Shane Smeltz hit the target.

Brisbane:
Brisbane largely has a full squad to choose from, with just Matt McKay missing from their best XI to start the season, with long term injuries of course to Lambadaridis and Danning. There is also some doubt about the fitness of Hingert, Ferreira and Petratos but the first two should be available given their naming in the squads yesterday.

It’s expected that Ferreira will step into the McKay role in the midfield on Sunday with the clubs Australian marquee currently in Europe on Socceroos duty against France tomorrow morning. As mentioned above there has been some doubt over the fitness of Ferreira; and in the case he’s unable to start it’s most likely that Franjic would move inside to a central role with youngster Kwame Yeboah playing out on the right.

Brisbane’s midfield will be interesting to watch on Sunday, where there is expected to be a large amount of interchanging positions regardless of whoever replaces McKay in the XI. One of the big changes this season is the freedom that has been afforded to Luke Brattan, where he will no longer be a permanent fixture in the holding role. Mulvey has raved about his ability to create and finish in the final third and his linking with Broich and Miller poses as a threat to the competition. Don’t be surprised to see Franjic and Broich move into central roles at times during the season.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Ferreira, Brattan, Miller, Franjic, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Donachie, Brown, Yeboah, Henrique.

Wellington:
It’s not been the best preparation for Wellington leading into round one with 7 players either injured or away on international duty. That has forced new boss Ernie Merrick’s hand with four New Zealanders signed on short term deals, along with this weeks signing of Spaniard Albert Riera from Auckland City.

They look shaky in defence with youngsters Brindell-South and Caira likely to fill the fullback roles, while 25year old central defender Boxall made just 4 starts last season for the Phoenix. All of that means that experienced defender Ben Sigmund will be vital in providing experience and guiding the youngsters –especially the fullbacks- out on the field.

They’re expected to play something of a rigid 4-2-3-1 with Muscat and Lia expected to provide the solidity in the midfield, where they will be required to break up the attacks and also keep a close eye on Brisbane’s dangerous midfield trio of Miller, Brattan and Broich. In the past under Herbert Wellington have tended to sit deep and pick off Brisbane on the counter attack using the speed of Ifill and something similar could be on the cards this weekend, with Ifill and new signing Kenny Cunningham dangerous on the counter with their speed. They’ve also got the guile of Hernandez whose back in the league after a spell in India’s I-League whose more than capable of causing problems.

Expected Wellington XI:
Spoonley, Brindell-South, Boxall, Sigmund, Caira, Lia, Muscat, Ifill, Hernandez, Cunningham, Huysegems.
Subs: McPeake, Adams, Riera, Watson, Boyd.

Last Season against Wellington:
Last Season

Brisbane made relatively short work of the Phoenix last season, especially at home with two wins from two. Across the Tasman however in round 3 they had to fight back to salvage a draw. Wellington were largely direct on the counter last season, using the pace and form of Brockie to maximum effect.

Stats:
All-Time against Wellington Phoenix:

Record

All games

At Wellington Stadium:
Stadium

Top Scorers in this fixture:
Scorers

The weather can often play a factor across the Tasman, however Sunday is expected to be a fine and sunny day with temperatures around 18 degrees. Kick-off is set down for 5.00pm local (2.00pm Queensland time), with coverage live on Fox Sports 1, and on 612 ABC Radio Brisbane.

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