Round 18 Catch-up game preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

Victory H

After a solid performance for an hour at the weekend against Adelaide, Brisbane will be looking to edge closer to 6th placed Melbourne City and secure a finals berth on merit. Currently Brisbane sit four points behind Melbourne City, but will play their catch-up game tonight.

Victory meanwhile will be trying to take a major step towards the Premiership, as a win would put them 3 points clear at the top, a position they currently share with Sydney FC.

Melbourne have the added advantage of a far better preparation for this game, with an extra 24 hours on the Roar, while Brisbane will no doubt still be feeling some effects of last weeks trip to Korea. The Roar are in the middle of a stretch which has seen them play twice last week, while playing another four games between now and next Friday’s regular season ending game against Newcastle- with a trip to China thrown in.

Victory won the only meeting between these sides this season, but with that game in the distant past and the sweeping changes that have taken place at Perry Park since that night, im not sure how much you can read into the result. Tonight, and Saturday’s games will be a far more telling indication of the differences between the two sides.

Onto this game specifically however, all attention will no doubt turn to former Brisbane striker Besart Berisha, who will be making his first return to Brisbane since leaving the club last May. He has promised not to celebrate should he find the back of the net tonight, and it will be an interesting sub plot to see how he’s welcomed.

Defence it’s fair to say is not either sides forte this season, with Brisbane having to re-shuffle their backline on a game by game basis with a wrath of injuries in that part of the pitch. Victory also have problems at the back, with limited options after Adrian Leijers departure, and the visiting side will be sweating on the fitness of Mathieu Delpierre in particular after his injury interrupted campaign.

Shutting the Albanian marksman down is a necessity for the home side, with another changed back four tasked with stopping him. Fellow imports Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah should not be ignored however, with the Tunisian in particular likely to give Jack Hingert a tougher test on the right hand side than he experienced at the weekend.

At the other end of the pitch, there are signs that Andrija Kaluderovic, the guy Brisbane turned to in January to replace Berisha, is starting to come into his own. While he’s flattered to deceive on the continent, his recent league form has been impressive, opening the scoring in the past two games. His movement and work rate however, are what has seen him become a more effective option, in addition to his nous in front of goal.

Squads

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Brisbane will be forced top make at least one change from the side who beat Adelaide at the weekend, with Daniel Bowles red card late on resulting in a one match ban. James Donachie looms as the likely replacement with his timely return from injury a major boost, with only youngster Lachlan Jackson in reserve.

Outside of that it’s hard to imagine any further changes for Brisbane, who outplayed Adelaide before fatigue set in midway through the second half. Michael Theo, Jerome Polenz, Jade North, Shane Stefanutto and Henrique remain out injured, while Daniel Bowles serves his suspension.

Expected Brisbane XI: Young, Hingert, DeVere, Donachie, Brown, Brattan, McKay, Broich, Borrello, Solórzano, Kaluderovic.
Substitutes: Chalmers, Jackson, Clut, Lustica, Petratos.
Omitted: Brady

Melbourne have their own injury crisis to deal with, with regular shot stopper Nathan Coe possibly out for the season with a back complaint. Regardless of the long term impacts, Coe will definitely miss the two games here in Brisbane, with regular back-up Lawrence Thomas set to deputise.

There are also reports that Gui Finkler may not start tonight’s game after he picked up a slight niggle on Friday against the Jets. Possible replacements may include Kosta Barbarouses, Connor Pain or Jesse Makarounas. There’s also the chance that Muscat may use the opportunity to alter his backline by shifting the versatile Leigh Broxham into midfield in place of Finkler. Ultimately however, I think with so much on the line for the visitors, Finkler will start, while Jason Geria will likely come into the side at right back.

Expected Melbourne XI: Thomas, Geria, Ansell, Delpierre, Georgievski, Milligan, Valeri, Finkler, Ben Khalfallah, Barbarouses, Berisha.
Substitutes: Spinella, Broxham, Makarounas, Pain, Thompson.
Omitted: Galloway, Mahazi.
Form
Brisbane: WLWLL
Melbourne: LWWDW

Top Scorer
Brisbane: Henrique (8)
Melbourne: Besart Berisha (11)
This season against Melbourne Victory
Round 7
Melbourne Victory (1) O.G- North 77’
Brisbane Roar (0)

Just the one meeting between these two sides so far this season, and it was a reasonably comfortable win for the hosts despite leaving it late to get their goal with Jade North unfortunately deflecting the ball into his own net.. They did deserver their win however, as they controlled the game for the most part however, forcing Brisbane to change their style of play which ultimately cost Mike Mulvey his job.

All time record against Melbourne Victory

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