Round 24 Preview: Brisbane vs. Melbourne

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Brisbane have a chance to win the premiership tomorrow night against Melbourne Victory should they collect all three points. More on the actual game in a moment, but firstly- I’ll lay out the situation as we start the weekend. Mathematically- three sides can still win the Premiership, however both Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers still in the race. Victory offcourse play Brisbane, while Wanderers back up a week in Asia with a home game against Perth Glory. Both can technically keep the race alive with a draw in their respective games, however realistically they both need a win. Brisbane can remove all doubt from the occasion with a win, and if they do David Gallop will be on hand to present the Premiers Plate to the team. Should they slip up, they’ll get another chance to seal it at home next Friday against Melbourne Heart.

Moving back onto this weeks match and while the record between these two in Brisbane even at 5 wins each from 12 games – 2 draws-, Brisbane have had by far the better in this fixture in recent seasons with most of Victory’s wins in Brisbane occurring in the leagues formative years. Their last win over Brisbane in Brisbane was actually back in season 5, when an Archie Thompson goal gifted them a 1-0 win early in Ange Postecoglou’s tenure. All up however it is the navy blues who hold the edge, with 11 wins to Brisbane’s 9 all time. Archie is also at the top of the scorers table in this fixture with 10 against Brisbane, with his former strike partner Danny Allsopp 2nd most prolific with 5. Brisbane’s best are two players who either have, or will play for the Victory with Berisha and Nichols on 4 goals each against the Victory. Berisha’s suspension means that Brisbane’s top scorer against the Victory on the park tomorrow night will be McKay, who has 3 goals against Melbourne.

Despite dropping two points last week, Brisbane played well last week down in Sydney, and it was only their lack of a finish that prevented them getting the win, despite being a man down. Brisbane’s nominal plan b is likely to be enforced this weekend, with Berisha once again suspended. It worked a treat dragging the Victory side out of shape last time and Mulvey will be hoping it does so again. For the Victory, the one thing they have this time they didn’t last was Rogic, who is an undoubted x-factor and someone Brisbane will have to watch closely. They’ll also be arriving in Brisbane both high on confidence after a win over Perth last week and in Asia midweek, and also a purpose. They need to win to keep any dream of the premiership –or even top two- alive, and will also want a psychological advantage should the two meet in the finals. So will Mulvey however for that matter.

Brisbane:
Mike Mulvey has even more headaches defensively this week with Corey Brown’s appendix drama adding to the defensive shortage. North and Franjic are set to miss again, while Donachie too is out again. That will result in a makeshift back four of Hingert, Smith, Stefanutto and Ferreira. There is no apparent options in the youth side as regular centre halves from the NYL season –Lachlan Jackson and Sam Cronin- haven’t been sighted for the youth team in the NPL side to date. In addition to that, Berisha’s suspension opens the door for Henrique to return to the starting line-up, probably resulting in the false 9 system that worked so well last time against Victory. Solórzano –who is fit again- is unlikely to be considered fit enough to start the game. As for defensive depth should it be needed, I’ve got no idea where it’ll come from- McKay to LB maybe?

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, Smith, Stefanutto, Ferreira, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Henrique.
Subs: Acton, Lustica, Solórzano, Borrello, Clut/Theodore/somebody else to be added.

Melbourne:
Victory meanwhile will be coming into this game close to full strength, however they will be coming off back to back weeks with ACL commitments which could leave them fatigued. They’ll welcome back Adrian Leijer to the squad, and also Milligan who was rested from the start midweek in the Champions League. If Traore’s recent injury issues prevent him from playing, youngster Dylan Murnane will come into the side.

Expected Melbourne XI:
Thomas, Galloway, Contreras, Leijer, Traore, Broxham, Milligan, Rogic, Troisi, Thompson, Barbarouses.
Subs: Coe, Geria, Mahazi, Finkler, Makarounas.

This season:
Round 3:
Melbourne Victory (Troisi) 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 13: Melbourne Victory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (Miller, McKay, Petratos)

The two meetings this season have been shared, with Victory sending Ange Postecoglou out of Melbourne a winner with a win in round 3, before Brisbane returned serve with the performance of the season in round 13. Brisbane’s false 9 system worked to devastating effect that night, resulting in arguably the goal of the season after long sequence of passes.

Tale of the tape:
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