2017-18 Round 3 Match Preview

Round 3 of the A-League and Brisbane Roar will be out to ensure they don’t equal their worst ever start to a League season on Sunday afternoon when they take on the high flying Newcastle Jets. Late goals from Ryan Kitto and Johan Absalonsen ensured it was back to back defeats to start the season, after a disappointing second half fade out cancelled out Massimo Maccarone’s first goal for Brisbane.

Injury Update
Daniel Bowles- Knee (TBC)
Shannon Brady- Broken Foot (TBC)
Thomas Kristensen- Hamstring (2 weeks)

Team news
The belated arrival of French attacker Eric Bautheac will provide more options in attack for John Aloisi, and with the former Lille man training with another of his former clubs in Metz to keep sharp ahead of the move it’s a possibility that he makes his debut from the start on Sunday. It’s more likely however that the Frenchman makes his debut as a second half substitute.

Regardless of Bautheac’s potential ability from the start, Brett Holman is  a likely returnee to the XI in place of Nick D’Agostino in the attacking midfielders role, with the young striker set to replace Rahmat Akbari on the substitutes bench.

Expected Brisbane Roar XI- Theo, North, Devere, Papadopoulos, Brown, Caletti, McKay, Holman, Skapetis, Ben Khalfallah, Maccarone.
Substitutes- Young, Hingert, Oxborrow, Bautheac, D’Agostino.
Omitted- Akbari, Ingham.

The opposition
If there was one team the Roar would not like to see this weekend on their home patch it would probably be Newcastle, with the Jets winning on 10 of their 17 previous visits to the Queensland capital.

Newcastle are team transformed under new boss Ernie Merrick with the early rounds suggesting that the seven season wait for finals football could be set to end this time around, with attacking duo Roy O’Donovan and Ronald Vargas leading the charge this time around. There’s also a distinct Roar old boys look to the Jets, with Devante Clut, Dimi Petratos, Lachlan Jackson and Joseph Champness all finding a home in the Hunter in 2017-18.

What have they done lately?
While the Roar have been slow out of the gates in season 2017-18, the opposite can be said of the Jets, who find themselves in 3rd place on the table heading into Round 3 after a comprehensive win over Central Coast in Round 1 before succumbing to a late Adam Taggart goal at home against Perth Glory in Round 2.

Injury Update
Nil.

While Brisbane have a number of players sidelined due to injury to start the season, Newcastle on the other hand have a clean bill of health and a full squad at Ernie Merrick’s disposal as they make the trip north to Brisbane.

Team news

Ernie Merrick will no doubt be tempted to bring in experienced defender and former club captain Jason Hoffman at the back for this game –most likely in place of Ivan Vujica- in a reshuffle which would see Daniel Georgievski move to left back. Outside of that it’s a stable side in the Hunter, with the only other potential change is the addition on the bench of youngster Mario Shabow to provide an additional attacking option to ex Young Roar flyer Joey Champness.

Expected Newcastle Jets XI- Duncan, Hoffman, Boogaard, Topor-Stanley, Georgievski, Kantarovski, Ugarkovic, Petratos, Vargas, Nabbout, O’Donovan.
Substitutes- Moss, Jackson, Brown, Shabow, Champness.
Omitted- Cowburn, Vujica.

Stats, Facts & Figures
– Eric Bautheac will become the 134th player to represent Brisbane Roar if he makes his debut in this fixture
– Sunday’s home clash with Newcastle Jets will be Brisbane’s 150th regular season home game at Suncorp Stadium (P-149. W72. D34. L43. GF-225. GA- 167.
-Only once have Brisbane lost their first three game of an A-League season (2014-15)

All-Time Record against Newcastle Jets

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2017-18 Round 2 Match Preview

After Brisbane’s dismal run away in Melbourne continued to star the 2017-18 season, Brisbane Roar return to Suncorp Stadium for the first time this season for their home opener against Adelaide United.

While Brisbane had some encouraging moments in their round one loss to Melbourne City, it was a Bruce Kamau brace which decided the issue leaving John Aloisi with some thinking to do ahead of tomorrow nights encounter.

Injury Update
Daniel Bowles- Knee (Indefinite)
Thomas Kristensen- Hamstring (2 weeks)
Shannon Brady- Foot (Indefinite)

Team news
The return to fitness of midfielder Brett Holman will be a big boost for John Aloisi’ side as they seek to recover from last weeks loss to Melbourne City, with the former Socceroo expected to replace Nick D’Agostino in the starting line-up.

There could also be a starting spot for Luke Devere in central defence after he was surprisingly overlooked in round one, while the bench will likely have a more attacking look to it with D’Agostino and possibly Dane Ingham to provide additional options in the front third.

Expected Brisbane Roar XI- Theo Hingert, Devere, North, Brown, Caletti, McKay, Holman, Skapetis, Ben Khalfallah, Maccarone.
Substitutes- Young, Papadopoulos, Oxborrow, Akbari, D’Agostino.
Omitted- O’Toole, Ingham.

The opposition
Much like last weeks opponent, Adelaide United have undergone a dramatic transformation in the off-season as new manager Marco Kurz seeks to implement his style on the side. So far it appears to be working with the Reds new direct style paying off with a solid Cup run and first up result on the road..

While Adelaide are decidedly more direct now under Kurz than in previous seasons, the Reds still possess some tricky attacking players including Danish left winger Johan Absalonsen and Senegalese striker Baba Diawara, who was one of the few bright points for Adelaide last season having arrived in January.

What have they done lately?
Adelaide started their season across the Tasman against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon in a tight and tense encounter. Dario Vidosic gave the ‘Nix an early lead in the fifth minute, before Danish import Johan Absalonsen equalised just four minutes later.

Adelaide are also still alive in the FFA Cup, with wins against Newcastle Jets, Melbourne Victory and Heidelberg United setting up a semi-final showdown against Western Sydney at Campbelltown Stadium next Tuesday.

Injury Update
Taylor Regan- Ankle
Tarek Elrich- Knee

Team news
Taylor Regan’s ankle injury which he sustained in the opening round clash against Wellington is set to keep him out until the new year which opens the door for Jordan Elsey to make his first start after missing last season with a knee injury.

Meanwhile Vince Lia is once again available having served a suspension and will likely come into the side in place of ex Roar midfielder Nathan Konstandopoulos. There will also no doubt be a temptation to replace striker George Blackwood with Senegalese striker Baba Diawara, who started on the bench in round 1.

Expected Adelaide United XI- Izzo, Marrone, Elsey, Gulum, Garuccio, Adlung, Isaias, Matmour, Mileusnic, Absalonsen, Diawara.
Substitutes- Margush, Ochieng, Lia, O’Doherty, Blackwood.
Omitted- Kitto, Konstandopoulos.

tats, Facts & Figures
– Brisbane’s record in their home opener- Played 12. Won 7. Drawn 3. Lost 2.

– Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United have met three previous times in the home opener, with two draws and an Adelaide win. You can read more on those previous clashes here.

All-Time Record against Adelaide United

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2017-18 Round 1 Match Preview

The long off-season has officially come to an end, with the A-League set to return tonight and for the third successive season Brisbane Roar will feature in the opening game of the season. In 2015 Brisbane ran out 3-1 winners at Parramatta Stadium against Western Sydney before a Luke Devere injury time equaliser earned Brisbane a point at home against Victory last year, this time the Roar are on the road once again as they take on Melbourne City.

Brisbane have primed themselves for this game with a couple of internal trial games over the past couple of weeks, with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC their last competitive game back on September 16th. Prior to that however due to injuries and experimentation Brisbane’s only other wins came against local sides, with losses to Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory –twice including the FFA Cup-.

Injury update
Daniel Bowles- Knee (indefinite)
Brett Holman- Calf (1 week)
Thomas Kristensen- Hamstring (2-3 weeks)
Dane Ingham- International Duty (1 week)
Eric Bautheac- Awaiting visa clearance (indefinite)

John Aloisi has been without a number of first team players with Daniel Bowles, Avram Papadopoulos, Thomas Kristensen, Brett Holman, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Corey Gameiro all missing time over the course of the pre-season.

For round one however all except Bowles –long term knee injury- and Kristensen –hamstring injury- are back in training and available for selection this weekend, in addition to Dane Ingham who is away on New Zealand World Cup Qualifying duty.

Team news
John Aloisi will definitely be without midfield duo Thomas Kristensen and Brett Holman to start the season, with Holman a late addition to the injured list after being listed as day to day for most of the week. With the experienced duo out, opportunities open up for Joe Caletti and Nick D’Agostino to start, with the latter set to occupy a slightly unfamiliar #10 role behind marquee striker Massimo Maccarone.

Winger Eric Bautheac is still stranded in France waiting for a visa clearance which ensures that pre-season revelation Peter Skapetis will make his A-League debut. Due to the number of unavailable attacking players, Young Roar attacker Rahmat Akbari is likely to be given the chance to make his A-League debut from the bench.

Expected Brisbane Roar XI- Theo, Hingert, Devere, North, Brown, Caletti, McKay, Holman, Skapetis, Ben Khalfallah, Maccarone.
Substitutes- Young, Papadopoulos, Oxborrow, Brady, D’Agostino.
Omitted– O’Toole, Akbari.

The opposition
Melbourne City have undergone a transformation over the off-season with interim manager Michael Valkanis returning to his role as an assistant as former Wigan and Manchester United youth team coach Warren Joyce arriving as the new manager.

Joyce has managed to bring in a trio of visa players to strengthen his squad in the shape of Dutch defender Bart Schenkeveld, marquee Polish midfielder Marcin Budzinski and most recently injury replacement Scottish striker Ross McCormack. Add in ex Adelaide United trio Eugene Galekovic, Iacopo La Rocca and Marcelo Carrusca and it’s been a solid off-season for City.

Injury update
Fernando Brandan- Knee
Bruno Fornaroli- Ankle
Tim Cahill- International Duty

City will be without three important attacking players to start the season, with striking duo Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill headlining those unavailable. With Fornaroli out until the new year atleast, City have brought in Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack as an injury replacement and the former Scottish international is set to make his starting debut tonight at the top of the City formation.

Fellow new signing Marcin Budzinski is reportedly however behind McCormack in terms of his fitness levels and could make his debut from the bench tonight, which could open up an opportunity for Nick Fitzgerald to make a start. At the back Eugene Galekovic had his share of injury concerns over the pre-season and there is fierce competition for the goalkeeping spot at City with last years starter Dean Bouzanis remaining, however Warren Joyce has indicated that the former Adelaide United captain will start the season as first choice.

Expected Melbourne City XI- Galekovic, Muscat, Jakobsen, Schenkeveld, Jamieson, Brattan, Kilkenny, Mauk, Kamau, Fitzgerald, McCormack.
Substitutes- Bouzanis, La Rocca, Malik, Carrusca, Budzinski.
Omitted- Tongyik, Arzani.

What have they done lately?
With the League season getting underway tonight City have been busy preparing themselves for the campaign with a run to the FFA Cup quarter finals in addition to friendly matches. In the FFA Cup, City moved past NPL Queensland side Peninsula Power 2-0 in the round of 32 and Hakoah FC 3-2 in the last 16 before being beaten 2-0 away from home to Sydney FC in a replay of the 2016 Cup Final.

Outside of the Cup games City played four pre-season games against A-League opposition, with wins over Central Coast (3-2) and Adelaide United (2-0) in addition to defeats against Newcastle Jets (3-1) and Adelaide United (2-1).

All-Time Record against Melbourne City

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Stats, Facts & Figures
– Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Rahmat Akbari could make their club debut tonight, and would become the 132nd and 133rd players to represent Brisbane Roar in a competitive game.

– Peter Skapetis, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Massimo Maccarone, Mitchell Oxborrow, Connor O’Toole and Rahmat Akbari could make their A-League debut for Brisbane in this game.


2017 FFA Cup Preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

After having their 2016-17 A-League campaign ended by the Victory back in April, Brisbane will get the chance for some revenge tomorrow night in their first competitive game of the 2017-18 season as the two clubs face off once again in the FFA Cup Round of 32.

And while there isn’t anywhere near as much on the line tomorrow night at Perry Park the game will provide an important first test for John Aloisi’ side as they continue preparations for the new season.

FFA Cup History
Brisbane Roar
2014- Lost in Round of 16 to Adelaide United
2015– Lost in Round of 32 to Western Sydney Wanderers
2016– Lost in Round of 32 to Perth Glory

Brisbane Roar have struggled in the Cup since the competitions inception, winning just one game in the Cup since 2014 and losing at the first hurdle in the last two editions. You have to go back to July 2014 for Brisbane’s sole FFA Cup win, a 4-0 win over West Australian NPL side Stirling Lions. A Round of 16 exit beckoned that year against eventual Cup winner Adelaide before Round of 32 losses to Western Sydney and Perth in the last two years.

Melbourne Victory
2014- Lost Quarter-Final to Perth Glory
2015- Beat Perth Glory in Final
2016- Lost Semi-Final to Melbourne City

While the Roar have struggled in the Cup over the years, Melbourne Victory have been a perennial contender, never failing to reach the quarter finals and winning the Cup in the second edition back in 2015.

On that Cup run the then A-League Champions beat NSW opposition in the form of Balmain Tigers and Rockdale City to make the quarter finals, before defeating defending Cup champions Adelaide United to reach the last four. After beating NPL Victorian side Hume City in the semi-final, a 2-0 home win over Perth Glory saw them crowed winners for the first time. Last season they put up a gallant defence of their title, reaching the semi-finals once again before losing to eventual winner and cross-town rivals Melbourne City.

What have they done lately?
3-0 v Port Melbourne (Goulding, Theoharous, Waring)
5-0 v Bentleigh Greens (Barbarouses x3, Berisha, Austin)

Like most teams in the A-League Melbourne have been playing friendly games to build up some match fitness in the early days of their pre-season campaign and like the Roar they enter this FFA Cup clash with two wins out of two so far.

Team News
Brisbane Roar
The only confirmed absentee for Brisbane is Michael Theo, with John Aloisi confirming in the press today the shot stopper would miss the clash against his former side due to a bout of the flu. Also unlikely to feature is another ex Victory man, with Fahid Ben Khalfallah at long odds to line up against his former teammates as the Roar gradually bring him along.

Corey Gameiro is another who is unlikely to feature, although apart from those three it should be a strong Brisbane squad in the Cup tomorrow night after Massimo Maccarone received his international clearance overnight.

With Theo out it looms as an early chance for Jamie Young to stake his claims for the goalkeeper berth this season, while with Gameiro and Ben Khalfallah unlikely to play and Maccarone still building match sharpness, there could be a chance for youngsters Shannon Brady and Nicholas D’Agostino to impress from the start.

Likely Brisbane Roar XI– Young, Ingham, Devere, North, Hingert, Kristensen, McKay, Brown, Holman, Brady, D’Agostino.
Substitutes– Bilic, Caletti, Oxborrow, Martinez, Maccarone.

Melbourne Victory
Victory are set to bring a mixture of senior first team players and youngsters from their youth team for the clash, with Mark Milligan the only confirmed absentee after the midfielders international clearance failed to arrive in time. Of the youngsters, Christian Theoharous made his senior debut for the Victory at Suncorp Stadium in Round 24 last season, while Pierce Waring and Cameron McGlip were on the bench that night.

Likely Melbourne Victory XI- Thomas, Geria, Williams, Donachie, Broxham, Valeri, Nigro, Troisi, Austin, Barbarouses, Berisha.
Substitutes- Acton, Deng, Theoharous, Ingham, Waring.

Stats and Facts
– Corey Gameiro, Mitchell Oxborrow, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Daniel Leck, Aaron Reardon, Rahmat Akbari and Emilio Martinez could make their competitive debut for Brisbane Roar in this fixture. They could become the 129th, 130th, 131st, 132nd, 133rd, 134th and 135th players to represent the club.

– Brisbane Roar have failed to beat A-League opposition in the FFA Cup, losing in three previous games against A-League sides in the Cup.

– Perry Park is set to become the 33rd different venue Brisbane has played a competitive game at, and the fourth venue to host a Brisbane Roar home game.

All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory

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2016-17 Semi Final Preview- MVC v BRI

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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.

Recent Form
Brisbane- WWLWW
Melbourne- WDLLW

Top Scorer
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.

Expected Line-ups
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

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2016-17 Elimination Final Preview- BRI v WSW

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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.

Recent form
Brisbane- WLWWL
Western Sydney- DDWWW

Top Scorer
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.

Expected Line-ups
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

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2016-17 Round 26 Preview- Perth Glory v Brisbane Roar

Last weeks win over Central Coast Mariners has given Brisbane a leg up in the race for a home game in week one of the finals, however John Aloisi’ side still need one win from their final two games to secure a home final.

In pursuit of that home final, Brisbane travel to Perth Glory for the second time this season in a game which is a must win for the home side if they hope to overhaul Brisbane or Melbourne City and host a final.

What Have they done lately?
Perth Glory are currently on a five game winless run and have gone from a good chance at hosting a final in week one to not being assured of participating in the 2016-17 finals. Perth, who enters round 26 in 6th position- six points out of 4th and four points ahead of 7th placed Wellington Phoenix.

While Perth have three players who have 10 or more goals this season, it’s at the other end where their problems lie. 48 goals conceded over the course of the season would rank them 8th on the table, with only Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners having conceded more.

This season against Perth Glory
FFA Cup Rnd of 32- Brisbane Roar 0-2 Perth Glory
Round 4- Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory
Round 20- Perth Glory 2-2 Brisbane Roar

Recent Form
Brisbane- WWLWL
Perth- DLLDW

Top Scorer
Brisbane- Jamie Maclaren (18)
Perth- Diego Castro & Adam Taggart (11)

Expected Line-Ups
With their must win Matchday 4 AFC Champions League fixture against Kashima Antlers in mind John Aloisi has opted to leave a number of first team players back home in Brisbane. Amongst those left at home include Avram Papadopoulos, Thomas Broich and Michael Theo who is available after his two week ban.

That opens the door for a number of the clubs younger brigade including the seldom used Nathan Konstandopoulos, Shannon Brady Kye Rowles and Cameron Crestani. It’s also potentially a big night for midfield duo Jacob Pepper and Manuel Arana, who are both running out of time to convince the coaching staff they deserve new deals.

Brisbane XI- Young, Hingert, DeVere, North, Brown, Pepper, Caletti, Holman, Borrello, Arana, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Bilic, Rowles, Konstandopoulos, Brady, D’Agostino.
Omitted- Crestani, Kristensen.

With Perth needing the three points to keep their hopes of a home final alive, Kenny Lowe is expected to field a strong attacking line-up with Adam Taggart, Andy Keogh and Diego Castro likely to form the basis of their attacks.

Rhys Williams and Rostyn Griffiths return after suspension, while young West Australians Mitch Oxborrow, Brandon Wilson and Joe Knowles potentially get another chance off the bench.

Perth XI- Reddy, Risdon, Williams, Djulbic, Mills, Griffiths, Goian, Harold, Castro, Taggart, Keogh.
Substitutes- Feely, Warren, Wilson, Garcia, Knowles.
Omitted- Chianese, Oxborrow.

All-Time Record against Perth Glory

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