Elimination Final Preview: Adelaide United vs. Brisbane Roar

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After 27 rounds of the regular season –punctuated by the Asian Cup-, the finals are here and after surrendering the Premiers Plate Brisbane will be out to try and retain the Championship, starting tonight against Adelaide United in the Elimination Final.

While Brisbane arguably got here by default after the Perth salary cap scandal they’re going into this game in good shape on the back of two straight wins, with the front line beginning to look more fluent with Kaluderovic fitting into the attack nicely.

While the front third is beginning to gel, the back line is once again under question with Thijssen having to run without three members of his preferred back four, while Jerome Polenz is only just back from an injury of his own.

This game is the beginning of a massive week for the Roar, with tonight’s Elimination final the first of what could be three games in the next 10 days to define the season. It goes without saying that tonight’s game will define the A-League season for Brisbane, while the Matchday 6 ACL clash against Urawa will be decisive in the Champions League.

From the Adelaide point of view, they arrive in the finals on the back of a commanding 4-1 win over Melbourne City, however prior to that they had lost their previous two matches. Their performance against City however was one of their best of the season leaving them primed for the finals.

While Adelaide may not be happy with the game being moved from Hindmarsh Stadium to Adelaide Oval, it may be a bit of a blessing in disguise for the Reds with Brisbane winning 10 of 18 at Adelaide’s regular home ground. On the whole though I  think this whole debate around the venue is being overplayed, away games in the finals are always tough.

Squads

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After resting their established stars for the final two games of the regular season, Brisbane are back to full strength tonight with Broich, Kaluderovic, McKay and Brattan amongst the returnees. Impressive youngsters Patrick Theodore, Shannon Brady and Lachlan Jackson have all been left out with experience preferred over youth.

Theo, Henrique, North, DeVere and Stefanutto are all unavailable due to injury for Brisbane.

Expected Brisbane XI: Young, Hingert, Bowles, Donachie, Brown, Clut, Brattan, McKay, Borrello, Broich, Kaluderovic.
Substitutes: Chalmers, Polenz, Lustica, Petratos, Solórzano.

Adelaide will be forced to make two changes to the side who downed Melbourne City 4-1 last week, with Michael Marrone suspended and Bruce Djite injured. Coming back in for the home side will be Nigel Boogaard, which will force a defensive reshuffle, while creative midfielder Marcelo Carrusca will replace striker Djite. Sergio Cirio will move back into the front line after being deployed in midfield over recent weeks.

Djite will be a big miss for Adelaide as he plays a big role in their build up play, however the return of Carrusca will more than off-set that.

Expected Adelaide XI: Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, McGowan, Malik, Isaias, Jeggo, Carrusca, Sanchez, Goodwin, Cirio.
Substitutes: Izzo, Watson, Mabil, Palanca, Kamau.
Omitted: Warland, Ochieng.

Recent form
Adelaide: WLLWW
Brisbane: WWLLW

Top scorer
Adelaide: Sergio Cirio (13)
Brisbane: Henrique (9)

This season against Adelaide United
FFA Cup round of 16
Adelaide United (2) Djite 35’, Cirio 47’ Brisbane Roar (0)

Round 1
Brisbane Roar (1) Broich 20’
Adelaide United (2) Djite 33’, O.G 56’

Round 11
Adelaide United (0)
Brisbane Roar (1) Henrique 18’

Round 25
Adelaide United (2) Goodwin 71’, Sanchez 90+5’ (p.k)
Brisbane Roar (3) Kaluderovic 26’, O.G 40’, Hingert 53’

Two wins each this season for these sides, with Adelaide owning the two early season fixtures, including in the FFA Cup clash. Brisbane however have responded with two wins down in Adelaide since then, including just three weeks ago where they played very well for an hour before fatiguing late on.

All-time record against Adelaide United

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A win tonight for Brisbane would set up a Semi-final clash against Melbourne Victory next Sunday afternoon down in the Victorian capital, while a loss would end the season and see Adelaide move on to face Sydney FC next Saturday evening.

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