After last weeks latest A-League finals drama at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Roar find themselves travelling to Melbourne to try and book a place Grand Final against Sydney FC after they beat Perth Glory 3-0 on Saturday night.
While that Elimination Final win over the Wanderers was another great night at home for Brisbane in the finals, looking forward it presented a host of problems for this weekend given the emotional high the players would have been on after winning a game in the penalty shootout, in addition to the obvious physical fatigue it would of done.
Adding to the problems for John Aloisi is the midweek fixture in Thailand where Brisbane’s chance to progress to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League were ended by Muanthong United, and while the majority of the first XI stayed back in Brisbane to prepare for this weekends final those who did travel will probably struggle fitness wise the longer the game goes.
The good news for John Aloisi however is that he now has almost the full squad available for selection at the business end of the season, with only Michael Theo and Daniel Bowles unavailable due to injury.
What have they done lately?
While Brisbane have been busy dealing with the intensity of the Elimination Finals and the travel demands the Asian Champions League presents, Melbourne Victory have been quietly preparing for this weekends Semi-Final.
Kevin Muscat’s side will have gone 15 days without a game heading into this weekends clash after a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners on the Friday night of Round 27. Since then Brisbane have played three times, including the drama of the Elimination Final last week.
Form wise though there are plenty of people who’ve been asking questions of the Victory, who will enter the game with just two wins from their last five games after a 1-0 loss away to Sydney FC in Round 22 essentially ended their already slim Premiers Plate hopes.
Adding to the woes for Melbourne is the lack of goals since that loss to Sydney, with just five goals in five games, and four of those came in Round 23 against Perth Glory. Have Kevin Muscat’s men simply been tapering for the finals after realising the Premiership was gone and top 2 was essentially locked up, or are there bigger problems? Either way we’ll probably find out this weekend.
Brisbane- Jamie Maclaren (20)
Melbourne- Besart Berisha (19)
This season against Melbourne Victory
Round 1- Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne Victory
Round 15- Melbourne Victory 3-2 Brisbane Roar
Round 24- Brisbane Roar 1-0 Melbourne Victory
This seasons three games were all played in very different circumstances, with the opening game of the season baring some comparisons to the Elimination Final of the previous season in terms of the result, but it was a game lacking the intensity as the two sides got a feel for the new season.
With Brisbane’s poor record away in Melbourne in recent times they were probably thankful to only be making the trip to AAMI Park against the Victory once this season, however the ghosts of past visits returned to haunt John Aloisi side as Melbourne essentially put the game to bed inside the first half hour when they exploded to a 3-2 lead. Brisbane worked hard to get back into the game, however they were unable to capitalise on a 10 man Victory side for over half an hour in search of the equaliser.
The most recent game is one which in truth should be discounted due to the Victory playing the game without their entire front four who were on international duty, although the game did spark a late season goal rush for Jamie Maclaren which has propelled the Roar into the second last week of the season.
It’s hard to tell which of the three games will be indicative of how today’s game will pan out, however id lean towards the game mostly being along the a similar path to the first and third, with a close contest where goals are at a premium the most likely.
The biggest trend from the three games is that Victory have been dominant in terms of both territory and possession in all three games this season, while the Roar have been excellent at picking them off on the counter attack.
As mentioned John Aloisi now has an almost fully fit squad at his disposal, however that now gives him the proverbial dilemma of who to select for this game. It’s likely that Aloisi will have three key decisions to make, at centre back, central midfield and on the bench.
With Jack Hingert once again fit to play at right full-back, one of Jade North, Luke DeVere or Avram Papadopoulos will miss out, with Luke DeVere the likely candidate given his inclusion against Muanthong.
In midfield the return of Matt McKay is a massive boost, however Aloisi will need to decide if he should return via the substitute’s bench after missing six weeks with a knee injury, or does the he bring the club captain straight back in place of impressive youngster Joe Caletti.
Finally, the return to fitness of Manuel Arana in his cameo against Muanthong United on Wednesday will see him enter the race for a bench spot, with Nicholas D’Agostino the most likely to miss out.
Brisbane XI- Young, Hingert, North, Papadopoulos, Brown, Kristensen, McKay, Holman, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Bilic, DeVere, Caletti, Oar, D’Agostino.
Omitted- Pepper, Arana.
The biggest decision for Kevin Muscat will be surrounding one of his most trusted players in the shape of Leigh Broxham, and if he chooses to deploy him in his natural centre midfield role or at left back. The return of Daniel Georgievski will likely see Broxham join James Troisi and captain Carl Valeri in the middle of the park, with the likes of Stefan Nigro and Rashid Mahazi waiting in the wings should he start on the left side of defence.
Outside of that one decision, the rest of Melbourne’s starting XI is largely settled, with James Donachie seemingly winning the battle with Nick Ansell to start alongside Alan Baro in central defence, while Jai Ingham is likely to once again be cast in the role of super-sub despite his assist in the Round 27 win over Central Coast.
Melbourne XI- Thomas, Geria, Baro, Donachie, Georgievski, Broxham, Valeri, Troisi, Rojas, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Substitutes- Acton, Ansell, Mahazi, Austin, Ingham.
Omitted- Nigro, Howard.
Previous Finals against Melbourne Victory
2014 Semi-Final- Brisbane Roar 1-0 Melbourne Victory
2016 Elimination Final- Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Victory
The two previous finals encounters between these sides have been decided by thrilling finishes at Suncorp Stadium in favour of Brisbane Roar, with the home side prevailing in the two previous games.
It was a Besart Berisha goal early in the second half who scored the sole goal in the 2014 Semi-Final, although Melbourne Victory had some strong claims for a penalty after a stoppage time challenge by Matt Smith on Mark Milligan and were extremely unlucky to be denied the chance to send the game into extra time.
Fast-forward two years and we arrive at last years Elimination Final between the defending Champion Victory and a wounded Brisbane side who had the chance to claim the Premiership from the Victory down in Melbourne but failed to do so.
That 0-0 draw set up a second straight fixture between the two sides and Victory would have thought that a late goal from Besart Berisha was enough to send them back to the Semi-Finals, however it wasn’t to be. Barely 60 seconds later Matt McKay levelled the scores for the Roar, before Thomas Broich scored a 94th minute winner from a Corona corner which sent Brisbane through to the Semi-Finals at Victory’s expense.
All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory
While Brisbane have continued to progress in the A-League and find themselves in the Semi-Finals, on the ACL stage the Roar kept their hopes alive two weeks ago with a strong home performance against Kashima Antlers.
Goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman were enough keep Brisbane’s hopes of progression alive in what was Brisbane’s best performance of the Group Stage so far, and they’ll need to replicate that performance tonight in order to get the result in Thailand.
What have they done lately?
Muanthong United have surprised many people to top Group E after four matches, although given the rise of Thai football perhaps we shouldn’t be as surprised.
Currently Muanthong United sit top of Group E with two matches remaining, and will be confident of progression to the last 16 for the first time. They will also be confident of maintaining a 100% home record in this years competition, having already defeated Kashima Antlers and Ulsan Hyundai earlier in the group stage.
Things are going equally well on the domestic front for Muanthong who sit top of the Thai Premier League after 10 matches, one points clear of Buriram United.
ACL Group outlook
With two games to play Group E has tightened up with all four sides still having a chance to progress, although it’s Muanthong and Kashima who currently occupy the spots for progression to the last 16.
For Brisbane, due to the head to head tiebreakers and their heavy losses to Ulsan and Kashima, will need to win their final games in order to progress. Ulsan Hyundai, who Brisbane will play on the final matchday, find themselves in a similar situation.
With one eye on the A-League Finals clash against Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening in the Victorian Capital, John Aloisi has opted to leave a number of first team players back in Brisbane to prepare. From Friday’s starting line-up, only Luke DeVere, Joe Caletti, Brandon Borrello and Thomas Broich made the trip to Thailand, while substitutes Jamie Young and Nicholas D’Agostino also made the trip.
That means many of Brisbane’s talented youngsters figure to get another chance to show their wears on the continental showpiece in a game which the Roar must win to keep their hopes alive. Joining the youngsters in Thailand for the game however is Manuel Arana who is making his return from a hamstring injury.
Likely Brisbane Roar XI- Young, Ingham, Crestani, DeVere, Rowles, Pepper, Caletti, Arana, Borrello, Broich, D’Agostino.
Substitutes- Bilic, O’Toole, Konstandopoulos, Brady, Katebian.
Last time out Muanthong surprised a lot of people with their ability to control large parts of the game and were unlucky not to get more out of the game, with Teerasil Dangda the star of their many Thailand internationals. Striker Xisco, who was a new arrival at the time, was a handful on the night and figures to be the main danger tonight.
Instead of speculating on who might take the field for Muanthong, here’s the side which defeated Ulsan Hyundai in Matchday 4 two weeks ago.
Likely Muanthong United XI- Kawin, Do, Aoyama, Celio, Bunmathan, Tossakai, Lee, Nawanno, Dangda, Songkrasin, Xisco.
Substitutes- Thongsong, Notchaiya, Kraisorn, Thinjom, Caikultewin, Kulasuwan, Phadungchok.
All-Time Record against Muanthong United
Over the course of the season we’ll keep tabs on the yellow and red cards handed out each week across the A-League. It all adds up to the Fair play Award on the A-League’s annual awards night, an award which was won last season by Brisbane Roar.
While the fair play award is far from the most important trophy on offer in the A-League, it’s vital to have all of your players fit and available for the big games towards the end of the season and ill-discipline could prove to be crucial if players miss big games at the business end of the season.
Brisbane Roar have been the most successful disciplined side over the 11 year history of the A-League, winning the award on six occasions including four straight from 2010-11 through 2013-14. Other winners include Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC. The full list of winners is below.
2005-06– Melbourne Victory
2006-07– Perth Glory
2007-08– Newcastle Jets
2008-09– Brisbane Roar
2009-10– Sydney FC
2010-11– Brisbane Roar
2011-12– Brisbane Roar
2012-13– Brisbane Roar
2013-14– Brisbane Roar
2014-15– Wellington Phoenix
2015-16– Brisbane Roar
For those unaware, the award is decided on a points system, with points accrued for Yellow Cards, Second Yellow Cards and Straight Red Cards.
Here’s a breakdown on how the points system works
1 Point- Yellow Card
2 Points- Second Yellow Card
3 Points- Red Card
All data in this series is collated from the official match reports posted on the A-League website.
A-League Disciplinary Table
Central Coast Mariners have held off Brisbane Roar to claim the 2016-17 fair play award, their first in the competitions 12 year history. Despite the Roar having the best record for the final month of the season, Central Coast –who had the third best record of the month- held on by three points, with Newcastle and Adelaide sharing fourth place.
At the other end of the table, despite having the fourth best record throughout April, Melbourne City have finished bottom of the discipline table for 2016-17, finishing 11 points behind 9th placed Wellington.
Individual disciplinary table
So far this season there have been 576 yellow cards handed out to 171 different players over the course of the season, with the total number of yellow cards up from 533 in the last update. That equates to an average of 4.4 yellow cards per game, which is the same as the last update.
Over the course of the season there have been 64 players who’ve missed games this season for disciplinary reasons, who between them have missed a combined 87 games between them. Melbourne City’s Dean Bouzanis has missed the most games for disciplinary reasons this season due to his racial slur directed at Besart Berisha, with Melbourne City also having the most players to miss a game –nine-.
Melbourne City are also the club who’ve suffered from suspensions the most this season with 17 games missed by their players, while at the other end of the spectrum Central Coast Mariners have seen their players miss just the five games this season.
Finally to the referees table and the number of referees remains the same as the last update with 12 referees amongst the FFA’s rotation, with Chris Beath the most common official over the regular season -21 matches- and Matthew Conger the least common -5 matches-.
Kurt Ams has the highest average yellow cards per game with 52 cautions in nine games this season for an average of 5.8, with Daniel Elder the lowest average with 21 yellow cards from seven games for an average of 3 per game. Jarred Gillett has shown the most red cards of any official this season dismissing six players in the regular season, while Kurt Ams and Matthew Conger were only officials not to issue a single red card in the regular season.
This is the final update for the 2016-17 season, with the both the A-League and W-League fair play award set to be given out at the league’s annual awards night next week.
After surviving a scare last week from a gallant Wellington Phoenix side to secure a home Elimination Final, Brisbane Roar begin their quest for a fourth A-League Championship with a game against sixth placed Western Sydney Wanderers.
Last seasons home Elimination Final against Melbourne Victory was a close affair between two sides who were evenly matched over the course of the regular season, and tonight’s clash against the Wanderers figures to be a similarly close affair.
While Brisbane will start the game favourites in the eyes of most, John Aloisi will no doubt be hoping to stem the tide of goals conceded in recent weeks, with his side letting in six goals in the past two weeks.
At the other end of the park the focus will be on striker Jamie Maclaren, who capped off a strong conclusion to the regular season with 19 goals in the league, a nomination for the young player of the year and a share of the Golden Boot with Melbourne’s Besart Berisha.
This weeks game however has fallen from the headlines in recent days with the news of Thomas Broich’s departure at seasons end dominating both column inches and fans thoughts ahead of what in all probability will be his final home A-League game at Suncorp Stadium.
That announcement could prove to be a positive one for the Roar if the playing group use it as motivation to send out one of the clubs greatest players on a winning note, but it could also become an additional pressure and which way that goes will play a part in the outcome of this game.
What have they done lately?
After spending most of the season struggling to pick up wins Tony Popovic’s side have won three of their past five games, a run which both underpinned the Wanderers securing a spot in the finals and help them to a six game unbeaten run.
Like the Roar, Western Sydney have been fighting on the continent in the AFC Champions League –a fact which makes their current 6 game unbeaten run in the league all the more impressive-, however unlike Brisbane who kept their hopes alive on Matchday four, the Wanderers hopes of advancing essentially ended with a 3-2 loss at home to FC Seoul.
In their most recent game at the weekend the Wanderers fought back from two goals down in order to pick up a point against outgoing Champions Adelaide United, with former Brisbane midfielder Steven Lustica making the most of a rare appearance to score the equaliser.
The late season renaissance for Western Sydney started back in round 20, when they defeated the previously unbeaten Sydney FC, with the Wanderers losing just one further game in the league through the rest of the season.
That uptake in form has been lead by the form of Argentine import Nico Marinez whose creativity on the left hand side looms as a threat, as does long-time striker Brendon Santalab who has scored 14 goals this season. An underrated part of their return to form however is the central midfield pairing of Kearyn Baccus and Terry Antonis forming a strong pairing and their direct battle with Thomas Kristensen and Joe Caletti could be decisive in determining the outcome.
Western Sydney- DDWWW
Brisbane- Jamie Maclaren (19)
Western Sydney- Brendon Santalab (14)
This season against Western Sydney Wanderers
Round 8- Western Sydney 1-1 Brisbane
Round 12- Brisbane 1-0 Western Sydney
Round 17- Brisbane 2-1 Western Sydney
The three games this season between the two sides have been incredibly even encounters, with the Wanderers fighting back from a goal down to earn a point in the first two games. The most recent game back in round 17 was heading for a similar outcome to the first two of the season before Brett Holman won the game in injury time for Brisbane.
An underrated threat in this fixture this season for the Wanderers is Jumpei Kusukami, who scored two goals in three games this season against the Roar, while Jamie Maclaren has an excellent record against the Wanderers with eight goals in nine games since joining the Roar.
Brisbane Roar might have an upcoming midweek trip to Thailand to take on Muanthong United in Matchday 5 of the AFC Champions League next Wednesday, however this game is absolutely the focus and as such John Aloisi will field his strongest possible side for this must win game.
That means Corey Brown will return to the backline at left back in place of Tommy Oar after being rested last week, while Jack Hingert’s face injury likely means another start for Cameron Crestani at right back. The only selection headache will be which two central defenders Aloisi chooses, with Luke DeVere, Jade North and Avram Papadopoulos each having strong cases for inclusion.
Brisbane XI- Theo, Crestani, Papadopoulos, DeVere, Brown, Kristensen, Caletti, Holman, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Young, North, Pepper, Oar, D’Agostino.
Omitted- Rowles, Brady.
Tony Popovic had seemingly settled on a winning formula in recent weeks, however ACL fixtures and niggling injuries have curtailed that and now the Wanderers manager will have some decisions to make. The most notable of those surrounds young winger Jaushua Sotirio whose overcome a niggling injury and now could regain his place ahead of Mitch Nichols who has recently found himself on the outside looking in of the preferred starting XI.
Western Sydney XI- Janjetovic, Neville, Cornthwaite, Aspropotamitis, Baccus, Antonis, Kusukami, Nichols, Martinez, Santalab.
Substitutes- Tyson, Hamill, Dimas, Sotirio, Scott.
Omitted- Cole, Lustica.
Previous Finals against Western Sydney Wanderers
2013 Semi-Final- Western Sydney Wanderers 3-2 Brisbane Roar
2014 Grand Final- Brisbane Roar 2-1 (a.e.t) Western Sydney Wanderers
2016 Semi-Final- Western Sydney Wanderers 5-4 Brisbane Roar
Since joining the A-League back in 2012, Brisbane and Western Sydney have played a number of dramatic finals games, with the most memorable from a Brisbane perspective being the 2014 Grand Final which Brisbane won in extra time.
The overall finals record however belongs to the Wanderers, with Tony Popovic’s side leading the overall tally 2-1, with Shinji Ono inspiring the Wanderers to a 2-0 Semi-Final win back in 2013 ending Brisbane’s quest for a third straight Championship.
The most recent clash between the two was in the Semi-Finals last season with the Wanderers coming back from 3-0 down early in the game to win 5-4 after extra time in what was one of the most dramatic games in the A-League’s history.
Stats and Facts
– One that slipped through last week, Thomas Broich played his 200th game for Brisbane Roar last weekend in the 4-3 win over Wellington Phoenix.
– Brisbane Roar have either won or drawn their previous nine games with eight wins and a draw, including a dramatic win at the same stage of the finals series last year.
– Western Sydney Wanderers have played Brisbane Roar in each of their three previous finals appearances, and have never failed to make the Grand Final when they’ve made the finals.
All-Time Record against Western Sydney Wanderers
There was a massive bombshell just days before Brisbane’s seventh successive A-League Finals series gets underway, with long serving German maestro Thomas Broich announcing his departure from the Roar at the conclusion of this season.
The news, which was initially broke by Marco Monteverde on Tuesday evening, came as a massive shock to everyone both in terms of the timing and the actual announcement.
Earlier in the season we’d seen reports that the now 36 year old was beginning to wind his playing career down, with the intention of going on a post playing career break before launching into a coaching career.
Those plans were recently shelved however, with Broich outlining his intentions to play on for another season in recent weeks, and earlier this week we learned that would not be here in Brisbane.
In the announcement, Broich outlined that he was left in an uncertain position by the Roar in recent discussions and opted to make the decision now in order to focus on the upcoming finals series.
All up since his arrival here in Brisbane back in May 2010, Thomas has made 200 appearances for the club – a fact which escaped all of us- in all competitions, after making his debut in round 1 of the 2010-11 season away to former M1 Derby rival Gold Coast United.
There will be plenty of time to reminisce over the past seven years over the off-season, for now it’s time to focus on the upcoming finals series.
After an impressive run of form over the past month, Brisbane striker Jamie Maclaren has been named as the A-League Young Player of the Month of April.
The nomination comes as a reward for a strong conclusion to the regular season, with Maclaren scoring five goals in his past four games.
All up in the 2016-17 season, Maclaren 20 goals from 32 appearances across all competitions and has solidified himself as the best Australian striker in the domestic competition.
Jamie is now in the running to defend an award he picked up at last seasons awards night for his form in the 2015-16 season where he scored 20 goals from 26 appearances in all competitions.
Maclaren is joined as a nominee by fellow Brisbane attacker Brandon Borrello, in addition to Josh Brillante, Brandon O’Neill, Riley McGree, Jonathan Aspropotamitis and Paul Izzo in contention for the award.
The winner of the 2016-17 Young Player of the Year will be awarded at the 2017 Dolan-Warren awards night in the week leading up to the Grand Final.
While Brisbane missed the chance to guarantee a home final in week one last week over in Perth, other results across the weekend were kind and John Aloisi’ side enter the final game of the regular season with their destiny firmly in their own hands.
We’ll get to the finals equation in a moment, but this game falls at the end of yet another busy week for the Roar, who backed up a lacklustre away day in Perth with a shock win over J-League Champions Kashima Antlers to keep their hopes of progressing beyond the ACL Group Stage alive.
Focus for now however turns back to the domestic competition, with the Roar needing a win and plenty of goals to ensure they climb above third placed Melbourne City and secure the higher seeding ahead of next weeks opening round of the finals.
While both Brisbane and Melbourne City enter the weekend tied on 39 points, City’s superior goal difference – +6 compared to +5- means that the Roar will need goals in their final game in order to jump into third place provided City manage to defeat Perth in the final game of the regular season on Sunday night.
A draw in that game out west would cement 3rd for the Roar provided they beat Wellington, however a Nix win and a Perth Glory win could result in the West Australians taking the home final spot away from the Roar. That however is an unlikely proposition with Perth entering the weekend with a much worse goal difference (-1).
The simple math is this; anything but a loss will result in a home final for the Roar, while to get into third they’ll either need a comprehensive win over the Phoenix or for Melbourne City to drop points against Perth Glory.
What have they done lately?
Wellington’s finals chances officially came to an end last weekend after their 1-1 draw at home to Sydney FC, coupled with Perth’s 2-1 win over the Roar ensured the Glory took the final place in the finals series.
While the Phoenix had something of a late season resurgence under Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre’s leadership, it wasn’t enough to make up for their slow start to 2017 which saw them go on a five game winless run throughout January and February.
That run however started and began with the two previous clashes against Brisbane this season, with the Roar winning in round 16 before the Nix ended their winless streak in round 21.
Individually there haven’t been too many high points but Roy Krishna has continued his development this season, with his eleven goals this season cementing his reputation as one of the more dangerous forwards in the league.
This season against Wellington Phoenix
Round 16– Wellington Phoenix 0-1 Brisbane Roar
Round 21– Brisbane Roar 1-2 Wellington Phoenix
Brisbane– Jamie Maclaren (18)
Wellington– Roy Krishna (11)
Having played two games already in the past week John Aloisi will have to deal with fatigue when deciding upon his side for this weeks game, one which the Roar will need to win in order to finish in third place.
While Corey Brown is rested with his seven yellow cards, Aloisi will welcome back Tommy Oar, Thomas Broich, Avram Papadopoulos and Thomas Kristensen to the side.
Papadopoulos figures to partner Jade North at the back as the central defensive rotation continues, while Kye Rowles and Dane Ingham are set to battle it out for a start at full-back.
Further forward it figures to be a full strength Brisbane attack with Thomas Broich returning to the side as Jamie Maclaren goes hunting for the goals to deliver him the golden boot.
Brisbane XI– Theo, Hingert, North, Papadopoulos, Ingham, Kristensen, Caletti, Holman, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes– Young, Rowles, Pepper, Oar, D’Agostino.
Omitted– DeVere, Brady.
Wellington have been in solid form to end the 2016-17 season, with the Phoenix picking up four points out of six in the last two weekends and Des Buckingham will be looking for another solid showing to conclude their season.
The Phoenix will however be without Shane Smeltz and Jacob Tratt who left the club this week as Wellington begin their preparations ahead of next season. While Tratt has been out of the side in recent weeks, Smeltz was part of the squad in their final home game of the season last week and will likely be replaced by young striker Sarpeet Singh.
Wellington XI– Italiano, Lowry, Durante, Rossi, Doyle, Lia, Rodriguez, Bonevacia, Finkler, Krishna, Barbarouses.
Substitutes– Moss, Parkhouse, McGlinchey, Watson, Singh.
Omitted– Sail, Rogerson.
Stats and Facts
- Wellington have won on their last two trips to Brisbane. Their last loss here in Brisbane was February 1st, 2015. (Brisbane 3-2 Wellington).
All-Time Record against Wellington Phoenix