Round 9 Preview: Wellington vs. Brisbane

Phoenix

After last weeks 2-1 win over Adelaide, Brisbane are back where the season began with a second trip across the Tasman to take on the Phoenix. Brisbane are in excellent form on the road this season picking up 9 points out of a possible 15 and their record in Wellington is fantastic. Brisbane have won the last three games between the two sides, and the last time Wellington beat Brisbane in Wellington was in early 2010 when a Eugene Dadi brace lifted the hosts to the win. Since then Wellington have beaten Brisbane -in Dunedin- however Brisbane have won seven out of ten. Player wise Besart Berisha has a fantastic record against all teams, but it’s especially good against Wellington with six goals in 7 games, and he’s found the net in each of the last 5 matches. From Wellington’s point of view, Belgian striker Stein Huysegems has scored in the last two matches between the two sides in Wellington.

Form:
Wellington: LDLDL
Brisbane: WWWLW

Top Scorer:
Wellington: Jeremy Brockie, Stein Huysegems, Paul Ifill (2)
Brisbane: Besart Berisha (5)

Brisbane:
Brisbane picked up the three points in Adelaide last week on the first stop of their two game road trip despite not playing to their absolute best. They started out sluggishly last week once again, which has been something of a trend in recent weeks. The substitution of Miller for Henrique helped to give the side balance with Franjic giving good width on the right hand side.

Selection wise, Mulvey has two decisions make, both in goals and also in the midfield. In goals regular #1 Michael Theo is fit once again after two weeks off a shoulder complaint. My gut feeling is that despite some good saves last week in Adelaide that Theo will be back in the starting line-up. The midfield decision will come down to Miller or Henrique, and given the way the side functioned after his introduction last week im expecting him to start this week. With North and Stefanutto still injured Brown and Donachie will remain in the side and continue to stake their claims for a permanent start.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, Donachie, Smith, Brown, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Franjic, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutes: Acton, Ferreira, Petratos, Henrique, Yeboah.

Wellington:
Despite their record showing they’ve not won a game this season to date, they’ve played some good football in some trying circumstances. Wellington looked good value for their 2-1 lead after an hour of last Friday’s game against Perth before defensive mistakes ended up seeing them lose the game 4-2. It’s been difficult to judge Wellington so far this season given all the interruptions which are well documented. Carlos Hernandez has looked dangerous however at times and the Costa Rican can make something happen out of nothing.

Selection wise Wellington have injury concerns with midfielders Paul Ifill, Albert Riera and Carlos Hernandez all in doubt but are expected to play. If fit the trio are likely to start the game, however there’s a chance that Cunningham will start ahead of Ifill in any case. Wellington will also welcome back Manny Muscat whose expected to slot in at left back alongside Sigmund, Durante and Fenton in the back four.

Expected Wellington XI:
Moss, Fenton, Durante, Sigmund, Muscat, Ifill, Lia, Riera, Hernandez, Brockie, Huysegems.
Substitutes: Italiano, Bertos, Hicks, Cunningham, Boyd.
Omitted:
Ridneton, Boxall.

So far this season:
Round 1: Wellington Phoenix (Huysegems) 1-2 Brisbane Roar (Berisha, Franjic)

The first meeting between the two sides this season is a tough one to gauge for both sides, with Wellington missing a host of their regulars with international duty, where as Brisbane weren’t at full strength either. Wellington looked to play the ball forward very quickly in transition to try and catch Brisbane out of position and the tactic worked for the opening goal of the game on that occasion. Expect a similar strategy to be employed on Saturday afternoon. Brisbane for their part started reasonably sluggishly from memory before coming into their own towards the end of the first half and in the second.

Stats:
wellington

It’s looking like good weather in Wellington by the time the game rolls around on Saturday afternoon, with a cloudy day and 21 degrees expected come kickoff. Kickoff in set down for 2.30pm Brisbane time, and can be seen live on Fox Sports 1 and ABC online Radio.

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