2016-17 Round 1 Preview- Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory

The 2016-17 A-League season gets underway tonight with Brisbane playing the season opening game for the second successive season, although this time instead of a trip to Parramatta they’ll host Melbourne Victory in a rematch of last seasons dramatic Elimination Final at the same venue.

These two sides have been the most successful sides over the history of the A-League and a lot of pundits are predicting that one of these sides will be once again lifting the silverware come seasons end, although more are predicting that it will be Melbourne rather than Brisbane this time around.

On paper these two sides appear to be evenly matched with both possessing significant firepower going forward, included in which is goals from midfield which is a hallmark of all good sides.

The questions on both are at the back, where Brisbane will be relying on the fitness of Luke DeVere and the form of Corey Brown to remain towards the top this time around, while Melbourne have officially handed young goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas the gloves following Danny Vukovics’ move to Sydney FC.

What have they done lately
Given it’s the start of the season, form is difficult to gauge with FFA Cup fixtures the only meaningful action to go on. For Brisbane, a loss in August to Perth is their most recent competitive fixture, with friendlies against State League opposition and behind closed doors friendlies making up the remainder of their pre-season.

That makes Brisbane a difficult side to gauge at the start of the season, with Perth looking the more in tune side for the FFA Cup clash despite winning the game on the back of their superiority at set pieces.

Melbourne meanwhile have gone on a much more substantial FFA Cup run, with wins over Newcastle Jets, Hume City and Bentleigh Greens seeing the 2015 Cup winners progress to the Semi-Finals where they’ll take on cross-town rivals City for a spot in the final. In addition to their Cup run, an appearance in the International Champions Cup tournament early in pre-season means the Victory should be fit and ready for the new season.

Squads
Brisbane- 1) Michael Theo, 3) Luke DeVere, 4) Daniel Bowles, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Thomas Kristensen, 8) Jacob Pepper, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Brett Holman, 11) Tommy Oar, 13) Jade North, 16) Nathan Konstandopoulos, 17) Matt McKay, 19) Jack Hingert, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 26) Nicholas D’Agostino, 28) Brandon Borrello, 33) Joey Katebian.
*Two to be omitted.

The biggest question mark over the Brisbane selection was answered yesterday with John Aloisi confirming that Michael Theo would start the season in goal, with the 3 time Champion here in Brisbane getting the nod over Jamie Young. Dimitri Petratos’ injury in training at the weekend is set to keep him out of the side, with Brisbane’s expected first XI all fit and ready to go aside from their no.23.

Connor O’Toole is away for the opening month with the Young Socceroos, as are Young Roar duo Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad. Kye Rowles however succumbed to an injury which kept him out of the AFC u-19 Championship which doubles as the qualifiers for next years’ u-20 World Cup.

Expected Brisbane XI- Theo, Hingert, North, DeVere, Brown, Kristensen, McKay, Borrello, Holman, Oar, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Young, Bowles, Pepper, Broich, Katebian.

Melbourne- 2) Jason Geria, 3) Scott Galloway, 4) Nick Ansell, 5) Daniel Georgievski, 6) Leigh Broxham, 8) Besart Berisha, 10) James Troisi, 11) Mitch Austin, 13) Oliver Bozanic, 14) Fahid Ben Khalfallah, 15) Alan Baro, 17) James Donachie, 19) George Howard, 20) Lawrence Thomas, 21) Carl Valeri, 22) Stefan Nigro, 23) Jai Ingham, 27) Alistair Bray.
*Two to be omitted.

Melbourne’s most interesting selection dilemma will be who partners Alan Baro in the heart of defence. Nick Ansell has been the most preferred option throughout the pre-season, but the playing against his former club factor could swing things the way of Donachie.

The absence of Marco Rojas will create another selection headache for Kevin Muscat on the right of Melbourne’s front three, although with new signing Mitch Austin and another ex-Roar player in Jai Ingham he’s not short of options.

Expected Melbourne XI- Thomas, Geria, Baro, Ansell, Galloway, Valeri, Bozanic, Troisi, Austin, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Substitutes- Bray, Georgievski, Broxham, Ingham, Howard.

Stats, Facts and Figures
– Matt McKay will tonight become the first Brisbane player to make 200 appearances in the A-League (Finals included). The closest player to that mark is Massimo Murdocca who made 159 appearances from 2005-2013, while Thomas Broich is the closest active player with 157 appearances since joining in 2010.

– Brisbane have won seven of their home openers in the history of the A-League, with seven wins, two draws and two defeats. The last time these two teams met in Brisbane’s first home game of a season, the Roar ran out 5-0 winners in Ange Postecoglou’s first return to Brisbane back in 2012.

– Should Brett Holman, Thomas Kristensen or Joey Katebian get any playing time in the game, they will become the 118th, 119th and 120th players to represent Brisbane Roar in a competitive game. Jacob Pepper and Nathan Konstandopoulos could also make their A-League debut for Brisbane, however their competitive debut came in the FFA Cup clash with Perth Glory. Pepper is the 116th player to represent Brisbane Roar, while Konstandopoulos is the 117th.

All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory

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