Round 26 Match Preview: Western Sydney vs. Brisbane

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Brisbane head off on their final away trip of the 2013-14 season this weekend as they take on the Wanderers in Parramatta and will be looking to get one over a side many consider a serious threat for the Championship. Brisbane are yet to win a game down in Parramatta, however they did collect their first point at the venue earlier this season and are unbeaten so far this season against Western Sydney. They have however going into this game with just one player in the squad who has previously scored against the Wanderers –Franjic- and he’s no guarantee to start the game, and may do so in defence anyway. There may be little on this game in terms of the ladder for Brisbane, there is however the motivation of going into the finals having just come off a positive result against one of the teams challenging you for the crown.

Brisbane:

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (gk), 2. Matthew Smith (c), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 5. Ivan Franjic, 8. Steven Lustica, 10. Henrique, 11. Liam Miller, 13. Jade North, 14. Diogo Ferreira, 15. James Donachie, 16. Jean Carlos Solórzano, 17. Matt McKay, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matthew Acton (gk), 22. Thomas Broich, 23. Dimitri Petratos, 26. Corey Brown
**Two to be omitted**

Unavailable: 25.George Lambadaridis (knee – season), Besart Berisha (suspended- 1 week)

All indications are that Brisbane will revert back to what –Berisha aside- many consider to be the teams best starting XI this weekend. Franjic and Stefanutto are likely to reclaim their full-back berths while Brattan has been named in the squad and figures to start in place of Lustica. The front three will be Henrique, Broich and Petratos; however it’s not yet clear if Broich will play in that false #9 role, or wide on them left like against Victory two weeks ago. The bench spots are somewhat open, with Ferreira’s versatility and strong form likely to garner consideration, however Id expect that Hingert and Donachie will claim bench spots. Lustica, Acton and Solórzano are certainties to be amongst the substitutes.

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

Western Sydney:

Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 1. Ante Covic (gk), 2. Shannon Cole, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Michael Beauchamp (c), 6. Jerome Polenz, 7. Labinot Haliti 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Tomi Juric, 10. Aaron Mooy, 11. Brendon Santalab, 13. Matthew Spiranovic, 14. Kwabena Appiah, 17. Youssouf Hersi, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19. Mark Bridge, 20. Jerrad Tyson (gk), 21. Shinji Ono, 22. Dean Heffernan
**Two to be omitted**


Unavailable:
3.Adam D’Apuzzo (groin – 1 week), 12.Tahj Minniecon (hip – indefinite), 34.Golgol Mebrahtu (knee – indefinite)

The Wanderers come into this one on the back of a 2-1 loss in the Champions League and despite potential fatigue I cant see them doing anything other than going into this with their best XI for the day given the league table. I think were likely to see Topor-Stanley and Spiranovic partnering in the defence which is the pairing we’ve seen Popovic go with in both encounters against Brisbane this season, with Heffernan filling in at LB in place of the injured D’Apuzzo. Poljak will probably come into the side given he’s fresh as he’s not in the ACL squad, probably ahead of Mooy, while upfront in recent weeks Popovic has seemed to prefer Santalab to Juric. It is difficult to tell however as fresh legs will also be a major consideration.

Expected Western Sydney XI: Covic, Polenz, Spiranovic, Topor-Stanley, Heffernan, La Rocca, Poljak, Ono, Hersi, Bridge, Santalab.
Substitutes: Tyson, Cole, Mooy, Haliti, Juric.
Omitted: Beauchamp, Appiah.

This season:
R7: Brisbane Roar 3-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
R18: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-1 Brisbane Roar

So far Brisbane have picked up four points out of six from the Wanderers which on the surface looks to be a good yield. The actual games however tell a slightly different tale with Brisbane coming out in full flow in the round 7 game with two early goals –could have been more- giving them the platform to win the game on that occasion. The Wanderers worked back into the game with a sloppy concession from Brisbane and had some half chances in the second half, indicating the two sides are pretty evenly matched. That was re-enforced in round 18 when Brisbane went to Parramatta and picked up a credible point on the road. They took the lead in the first half, and almost held out a full out attacking Wanderers in the second before Haliti slipped in at the back post. I see no reason to think this game will be anything other than another closely fought game.

Tale of the tape:
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Due to heavy scheduling congestion on Fox this week on Saturday night, the game will be broadcast both via the red button on FS2, or on Speed TV (ch512).

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