Round 1 Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Adelaide United

UntitledIt’s finally here! After what is surely the longest off-season in world sport the A-League back this weekend and Brisbane will start their defence of their Premiership-Championship double at home against a foe they recently played in another competition. Brisbane played Adelaide just 10 days ago -12 days by the time the game rolls around- in the FFA Cup round of 16 where the Reds landed an early blow on the Roar with a 2-0 win at Hindmarsh Stadium. Now however it’s time for what Mike Mulvey terms as Brisbane’s ‘bread and butter’ and with a full side out this time around it shapes up as a vastly different game.

This game figures to be very different to the game in Adelaide last month for a host of reasons, not least the personnel on the park. Adelaide will be missing young flyer Awer Mabil who laid on the two goals in the game with the Australian u/20 side, while Brisbane will be welcoming back into the side a host of first team regulars including Shane Stefanutto, Matt Smith, Matt McKay and new signing Mensur Kurtishi who was only a sub in the game last month. There is also likely to be extra intensity in this fixture, as the reports in the aftermath of the game seemed to hint that the contest was a bit flat with Adelaide controlling the game while Brisbane struggled to get a foot hold in the game. Of course there’s always a chance that Adelaide could continue their dominance in this fixture, but regardless of if they do or not, it promises to be a vastly different game.

Adelaide’s main strengths lie in the attacking third of the pitch with imports Marcelo Carrusca, Fabio Ferreira, Isaias, Sergio Cirio and new addition Pablo Sanchez all threats in addition to some of their youngsters coming through. Given the attacking nature of the Reds players, tracking back in defensive transition will be extremely important so the likes of McKay, Miller, Hingert and Stefanutto will have to be on alert if the ball is lost tracking the runs of the Adelaide midfielders. That attacking nature of the Adelaide side however has the potential to play right into Brisbane’s hands however as the Brisbane transition from defence into attack can be extremely dangerous with Brattan’s distribution, Broich’s creativity and the pace and hard running of Petratos, McKay and Henrique should Adelaide over commit on the attacking side of the game. Transition figures to be one of the major factors in the game on Sunday afternoon.

Brisbane’s pre-season results have been a bit up and down, particularly against the A-League clubs, but they’ve rarely had their strongest XI on the park which will be different this weekend for the most part. Of what could be described as Brisbane’s strongest side, only goalkeeper Michael Theo has been ruled out of the clash, as he’s set to miss the opening two months of the season with a wrist injury he sustained just before that FFA Cup clash between the two. Brisbane’s only other injury concern is Corey Brown who has a rib complaint which will keep him from being apart of the matchday squad this weekend. Coming into the side in place of Theo will be off-season signing Jamie Young, who will make his A-League debut in the clash. His back-up will be the man he replaced, Matt Acton, has returned to the club on a short term injury replacement contract after he spent the off season at Myanmar side Yangon United. The rest of the side should be pretty much as expected with Mensur Kurtishi making his debut upfront, and Adam Sarota making his return to the side in all probability from the bench. The one spot that could be up for competition is the right back slot with Jack Hingert seemingly having the inside running, although in the paper this week there was talk that James Donachie – now a member of the leadership group- may get the first chance to replace Ivan Franjic. Id lean towards Hingert getting the first chance, if only because he’s more natural when it comes to going forward with the ball, but he’s definitely got competition for the spot with Dan Bowles and now it seems Donachie.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Young, Hingert, North, Smith, Stefanutto, Miller, Brattan, McKay, Petratos, Kurtishi, Broich.
Substitutes: Acton, Donachie, Sarota, Henrique, Solórzano.
Omitted: Lustica.

Adelaide’s pre-season has been slightly better than Brisbane’s in truth, with more games against the A-League sides and they’ve managed to progress into the last 8 of the FFA Cup. They have also been introducing a new system of play throughout that time. As mentioned Gombau’s new 3-4-3 system should see some really attacking play if the reports are anything to go by, and it will be very interesting to see how they play in this new system on Sunday. International duty will be a problem for the reds this weekend with youngsters Mark Ochieng, Ben Warland, Paul Izzo and Awer Mabil –who reportedly was man of the match in the FFA Cup tie two weeks ago- all away with the Australian u/20 squad. That causes problems for Gombau, not necessarily in relation to Mabil as he has a plethora of attacking options, but at the back where he’s now light on in defensive cover. Osama Malik being injured to start the season is also a blow for the Reds. It’s a bit of a guess as I haven’t heard any news coming out of the Reds camp, but there’s a fair chance that 10 of the 11 players who started the cup game will start in round 1 on Sunday with Ferreira for Mabil the only change.

Expected Adelaide XI:
Galekovic, Elrich, McGowan, Boogaard, Ferreira, Isaias, Jeggo, Carrusca, Cirio, Djite, Sanchez.
Substitutes: Hall, Marrone, Goodwin, Kamau, Konstandopoulos.
Omitted: Cassio.

All-time record against Adelaide United:

Untitled2

Adelaide have had a very strong record here in Brisbane over the course of the league with the visitors six of the fourteen games, with Brisbane winning just the three. The good news for Brisbane fans however is that when the Roar do beat Adelaide here in Brisbane, it tends to be by a wide margin with two of the three wins being 4-0 (r14 2010-11) and 7-1 (r4 2011-12). Last Season Brisbane won two of the three meetings between the two sides, with the two games here in Brisbane being split one game a piece with the reds winning in round 14 on an injury time winner, before a Berisha brace saw Brisbane win in round 22. This will be Adelaide’s only trip to Brisbane in the regular season wit the other two scheduled between these two sides to take place in Adelaide, which is also where the last clash between the two took place in the FFA Cup last month.


Milestones:

-Mensur Kurtishi and Jamie Young are in line to make their A-League debuts in the game, while Daniel Bowles would make is A-League debut for the Roar if he gets any game time. All three have already made their club debuts
earlier in the season in the FFA Cup.
– A Brisbane Roar win will be their 100th in the regular season in the history of the A-League. So far Brisbane’s regular season record stands at 99 wins, 58 draws and 65 losses from 222 games. That one comes via @roarstats on twitter- an excellent independent page tweeting a host of facts about the Roar so give them a follow.

This is the second time that these two teams have met in round 1 a new season, with the two sides meeting in round 1 of the 2007-08 season here in Brisbane with both sides sharing the points in a 2-2 draw. Then young starlets Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns scored the goals for the visitors, while Matty McKay and Sasa Ognenovski scored for the Roar who finished the game with 10 men after Craig Moore was sent off in his A-League debut. Here’s the video if you want to reminisce. Kick-off in the game this time around is set down for 4.00pm Queensland time and can be seen live on Fox Sports one and heard live on 612 ABC Grandstand radio. Get to the ground early however as in the curtain raiser the W-League side will be looking to resurrect their season in round 5 against the bottom of the table Western Sydney Wanderers. Kick-off in that one is from 1.00pm with gates opening at 12.30pm.

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