Round 25 Match Preview: Brisbane vs. Melb. Heart

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With the Premiership in the bag Brisbane open round 25 with two of their stated objectives for the season guaranteed, and will be looking to continue their momentum towards that the third prize of the season. The win last week over the Victory may mean that there isn’t a great deal on the line for Brisbane, but that’s not the case for the visiting Heart who must win if they are to have any chance of squeezing into the finals. The fact they’re even in the discussion after failing to win until round 15 is a testament to their later season resurgence, however that will all be for nothing without a win tomorrow night. This fixture has traditionally been dominated by the home team with seven of the eleven meetings between the two sides being won by the hosts. You have to go back to Round 10 of the 2011-12 season to find the last time the away side won in this fixture- with ironically was also a Melbourne Heart win in Brisbane on a Friday night.

Brisbane:
Brisbane reportedly are set to welcome back three defenders to the squad which will undoubtedly ease the defensive crisis of recent weeks. Jade North’s return is likely to result in Stefanutto being pushed back out to left back, with the unlucky Diogo Ferreira likely to make way despite a very solid showing last week. Donachie and Brown will in all likelihood be fighting for a place on the bench along with Ferreira. Brisbane also welcome back Besart Berisha, who will start upfront despite the effectiveness of the front three last weekend.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Theo, Hingert, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Berisha.
Substitutes: Acton, Ferreira, Lustica, Henrique, Solórzano.
Omitted: Brown, Donachie.

Melbourne:
Heart effectively saw their finals chances evaporate last Sunday when the Mariners came to town and took the three points, and their cause this week wont be helped by the fact that retiree Harry Kewell is set to miss once again. On loan defender Aziz Behich is back however, and should fill the left back spot with Ben Garuccio likely to be on the bench. It’s marquee man Orlando Engelaar that needs to be watched however, with the big Dutchman in fine form since returning from a broken leg.

Expected Melbourne XI:
Redmayne, Hoffman, Kisnorbo, Wielaert, Behich, Germano, Murdocca, Engelaar, Dugandzic, Ramsay, Williams.
Substitutes: Velaphi, Gerhardt, Garuccio, Mauk, Kalmar.

This season:
Round 4: Brisbane Roar 3-0 Melbourne Heart
Round 20: Melbourne Heart 1-0 Brisbane Roar

The two meetings this season have been split once a-piece with Brisbane winning 3-0 at home way back in round four, before the Heart continued their dominance of Brisbane in the Victorian capital with a solid showing just last month. That 3-0 win in Brisbane may seem resounding by looking at the score, but the Heart had more than enough chances to get something out of the game, and were let down by their finishing on the day.

Tale of the tape:
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The weather has been pretty dire all week in Brisbane really, and the rain is expected to intensify over the next 24 hours or so. Despite that there’s little danger the game won’t go ahead –after Boxing Day 2010 I refuse to think any game at Suncorp ever will be washed out-, and level 7 will be open for those wanting to stay dry.

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