Victory defeat Roar in FFA Cup

Brisbane Roar (1) Skapetis 90’
Melbourne Victory (5) Austin 26’, Troisi 35’, Berisha 48’ (p.k), 74’, Milligan 52’ (p.k)
3,184 at Perry Park, Brisbane

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Brisbane Roar have bowed out of the FFA Cup at the Round of 32 stage for the third straight year, going down 5-1 to Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night at Perry Park.

A brace to former Brisbane striker Besart Berisha, in addition to goals from Mitch Austin, James Troisi and Mark Milligan were enough to send the 2015 Cup Winners into the last 16.

Goals
0- 1 (26’). Victory got in behind the Roar defence on the left with Kosta Barbarouses shot parried clear by Jamie Young into the path of Mitch Austin who had the easy task of putting the ball into the back of the net.

0-2 (35’) Melbourne then doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break after James Troisi capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Hingert and Kristensen, leaving Jamie Young stranded as his shot wound up in the bottom corner.

0-3 (48’) The game was essentially over three minutes into the second half after Jack Hingert was adjudged to have brought down Mitch Austin, with Besart Berisha converting the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.

0-4 (52’) Victory scored their second penalty in the space of four minutes, with Mark Milligan stepping up this time to convert after referee Chris Beath ruled that Jade North handled the ball inside the penalty area.

0-5 (74’) After an excellent through ball from James Troisi, Besart Berisha got his second goal of the game by coolly chipping Jamie Young from the of the 18 yard box.

1-5 (90’) Brisbane got themselves a consolation goal as the game ticked into second half stoppage time, with injury replacement Peter Skapetis getting himself a debut goal with his shot rocketing into the top corner.

Brisbane tested their new 3-4-3 formation once again tonight and while they’ve had success in two pre-season clashes today, this was the first test against A-League opposition. For Brisbane that meant the same starting XI which played the second half of Saturday’s win over Peninsula Power, with the only change being in goal where Jamie Young played in place of youngster Macklin Freke.

Victory meanwhile fielded arguably their strongest possible side for the contest, with only captain Carl Valeri missing from what otherwise was a strong side for last years Grand Finalists.

Both sides started the game with an attacking mindset as they swapped corners in the opening stages. Shannon Brady had the first chance of the game on 16 minutes after he was played in by Brett Holman, with Lawrence Thomas making a smart save on his near post.

It was however the Victory who opened the scoring after Kosta Barbarouses shot was parried into the path of Mitch Austin, with the Victory winger unmarked and able to capitalise on the opportunity.

Victory then doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break after James Troisi capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Hingert and Kristensen.

The game was decided in five second half minutes from the penalty spot with Besart Berisha and Mark Milligan beating Young. Firstly it was Hingert who brought down Austin in the box, before minutes later Jade North was adjudged to have handled the ball.

Berisha then got his second of the evening to make it 5-0 with 20 minutes to play after he lobbed Jamie Young after the through ball from Troisi.

Brisbane rescued a consolation goal late on through debutant Peter Skapetis, whose shot flew into the top corner of the net.

Stats and Facts
– Peter Skapetis became the 129th player to represent Brisbane Roar after entering the game as a second half substitute, and just the 10th player to score on debut for the club.

– Massimo Maccarone became the 130th player to represent Brisbane Roar after entering the game as a second half substitute, while Mitchell Oxborrow became the 131st.

– Brisbane Roar have now lost their last four games in the FFA Cup, and are still winless against A-League opposition in the Cup.

– Tonight’s 5-1 result is the equal biggest ever loss Brisbane have faced at the hands of the Victory, equalling the 4-0 loss from Round 15, 2015-16.

Coaches quotes Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi- “We tried to play our football and we made a couple of mistakes and they punished us. The first two goals were poor ones to give away. Second half we wanted to start strongly but two penalties changed the game”

Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat- “We knew we were looking reasonably sharp –in pre-season-, but you only really find out when you face A-League opposition and we were good value for the result tonight”.

Brisbane Roar XI- Young, Hingert, Kristensen, North, Ingham, Caletti, McKay, Brown, Holman, Brady, D’Agostino.
Substitutions– Skapetis for Ingham (57’), Maccarone for D’Agostino (61’), Oxborrow for Brady (71’).
Unused Substitutes- Bilic, Reardon.
Yellow Cards– Ingham, D’Agostino.
Red Cards- Nil.

Melbourne Victory XI- Thomas, Geria, Williams, Donachie, Nigro, Broxham, Milligan, Troisi, Austin, Barbarouses, Berisha.
Substitutions- Ingham for Berisha (76’), Hope for Troisi (80’), McGlip for Milligan (82’)
Unused Substitutes- Hatzikourtis, Theoharous.
Yellow Cards– Williams.
Red Cards- Nil.

Up next
For Brisbane Roar the FFA Cup is over for another year, with the next competitive game not coming until October when the A-League season begins.


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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Slow start costs Brisbane the points in Melbourne

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(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Melbourne Victory (3) Troisi 12, Rojas 17′, Berisha 26′ (p.k)
Brisbane Roar (2) Petratos 29′ O.G (Donachie) 42′
21,103 at AAMI Park, Melbourne

Brisbane Roar have failed to recover from a slow start as they slumped to a third straight defeat against Melbourne Victory on Friday night. Early goals to James Troisi, Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha invoked memories of the clash between the two sides at this time last season, before Brisbane made a comeback to enter the halftime break within touching distance.

A red card early in the second half to Besart Berisha for contact with the face of Luke DeVere –it looked a harsh call on the TV in truth- gave Brisbane a route back into the contest, however much like two weeks ago in Sydney the Roar struggled to create clear chances against ten men.

John Aloisi sprang a selection surprise with Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich dropped to the substitute’s bench, as Brandon Borrello started on the right wing and Manuel Arana started upfront. Arana struggled in what was just his second start of the season, with Maclaren’s potential impact off the bench negated by Victory’s defensive set-up after going down to ten men.

Goals
12’ (1-0) A free kick against Matt McKay on Besart Berisha, and James Troisi stepped up to curl his free-kick over the wall and into the top corner at the near post giving Michael Theo no chance.

17’ (2-0) Melbourne doubled their lead five minutes later after James Troisi beat two Brisbane defenders before whipping a cross-field ball to Marco Rojas, with Michael Theo misreading the cross leaving Rojas free to tap into an empty net.

27’ (3-0) Victory probably thought the game was over on the half hour mart after Besart Berisha was brought down by Luke DeVere, with the leagues all-time top goalscorer beating Michael Theo from the penalty spot.

30’ (3-1) Dimitri Petratos usurped the previous effort from Troisi with a stunning free kick from straight in front, sending Lawrence Thomas the wrong way and the ball into the top corner of the net.

41’ (3-2) Brisbane got right back into the contest after a Brandon Borrello cross was deflected into his own goal by James Donachie giving Brisbane a massive boost ahead of the half-time break.

Squads
Brisbane Roar– Theo, Hingert, North, DeVere, Brown, Kristensen, McKay, Borrello, Petratos, Oar, Arana.
Substitutes– Arana for Maclaren (57’), Kristensen for Broich (73’).
Unused Substitutes– Young, Bowles, Pepper.
Yellow Cards– North, DeVere.
Red Cards– Nil.

Melbourne Victory– Thomas, Geria, Ansell, Donachie, Broxham, Valeri, Bozanic, Troisi, Ben Khalfallah, Rojas, Berisha.
Substitutes– Georgievski for Geria (71’), Ingham for Rojas (81’), Ben Khalfallah for Austin (87’).
Unused Substitutes– Acton, Mahazi.
Yellow Cards– Troisi.
Red Cards– Berisha.

Up next- Brisbane’s two game road trip now sends them across the Tasman for a game Sunday week against Wellington Phoenix. The Nix will be playing their third straight home game in seven days in what is Brisbane’s only trip to New Zealand for the regular season.


2016/17 A-League Preview- Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar

After Brisbane’s 10 game unbeaten run from mid October through Christmas, John Aloisi’ side now find themselves on a two game losing streak as they travel to Melbourne for the second time this season.

Last week against Newcastle things were going to plan as Tommy Oar scored his first goal for Brisbane since 2009 to open the scoring, before a flat spell before the half time break let the Jets back into the game. Second half goals on the back of defensive errors to Andrew Nabbout and Morten Nordstrand see Brisbane still searching for the first A-League win of 2017 as they head to a venue which has been anything but friendly over the years.

In 15 previous visits to AAMI Park, Brisbane have won just the 2 games, with the last of those back in January 2014. All up in Melbourne things are equally bad, with just 5 wins from 26 matches against both sides from the Victorian capital.

What have they done lately?
Since these two sides met in round one both sides fortunes have been different, with Brisbane having a steady season in the top four, while Victory have recovered from a slow start including a comprehensive derby loss before finding form in recent times with five straight wins as part of an eight game unbeaten run.

Throughout their unbeaten run, Victory’s attacking stars have really hit some form, with the likes of Marco Rojas, James Troisi and Besart Berisha all in goal scoring form. Berisha in particular is in excellent form, with the former Brisbane striker leading the race for the golden boot, breaking the leagues all-time record along the way.

Recent Form
Brisbane
– LLDWW
Melbourne– WWWWW

Top Scorer
Brisbane
– Jamie Maclaren (6)
Melbourne– Besart Berisha (11)

Expected Line-ups
Brisbane
– Theo, Hingert, North, DeVere, Brown, Kristensen, McKay, Borrello, Petratos, Oar, Maclaren.
Substitutes– Young, Bowles, Pepper, Broich, Arana.
Omitted– Konstandopoulos, D’Agostino.

Despite the back to back losses, it’s unlikely that John Aloisi will make many –if any- changes to his side for this clash, as he relies upon those who’ve been regulars in the side to end the losing streak.

Should a change be made, it will almost certainly be in the wide attacking roles, where the likes of Manuel Arana or Brandon Borrello could get an opportunity. Young duo Nicholas D’Agostino and Nathan Konstandopoulos –who were added to the squad this week- would do a good job on the bench if given an opportunity. It’s just unlikely they get the chance.

Melbourne– Thomas, Geria, Ansell, Donachie, Broxham, Valeri, Bozanic, Rojas, Troisi, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Substitutes– Acton, Georgievski, Mahazi, Ingham, Austin.
Omitted– Beister, Nigro.

With a five match winning run and on the back of a strong showing against Adelaide last week, it’s likely that Kevin Muscat will keep the changes to a minimum. With Alan Baro suspended due to five yellow cards a change at the back will be required, with a pairing of James Donachie and Nick Ansell likely. Outside of that it should be business as usual for Melbourne who will be looking to close the gap on Sydney FC at the top of the table.

This season against Melbourne Victory
Round 1
– Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne Victory

These two sides opened up the season at Suncorp Stadium on a Friday night in what was a match that an even contest that bore similarities to the dramatic finals game back in May. After Mitch Austin scored the season’s first goal inside the last ten minutes, it was a Luke DeVere half volley from a free-kick in the sixth minute of stoppage time which earned Brisbane a point.

All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory

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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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Elimination Final Preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

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After last weeks disappointing 0-0 draw in Melbourne, which resulted in the Premiers Plate slipping through Brisbane’s fingers and landing in Adelaide, the 2016 finals series begins in Brisbane with an elimination final against the Victory.

Despite not getting the result last in Melbourne, Brisbane produced a polished performance against the Victory and but for a couple of poor finishes and some fantastic saves from Lawrence Thomas they would have won the game –and the Premiership-.

Victory for their part in the game sat deep and tried to hit on the counter a tactic which was more and more effective as the match went on, this week however promises to be a different proposition with the visitors likely to adopt a more attacking approach.

There’s two big factors in this game which will likely prove decisive, one of which is how last weeks result and performance influences this week in relation to confidence going into the game. The other is the availability of a certain striker.

Meanwhile the decision by the FFA to downgrade the suspension handed down to Besart Berisha from two weeks to one for his red card in round 26 against Wellington Phoenix. The decision is a largely contentious one for a whole host of reasons, however with Besart now available for selection and his finals record, the Albanian figures to have a pivotal part to play tomorrow night.

This season against Melbourne Victory
Round 15
Melbourne Victory (4) Ben Khalfallah 5’, Barbarouses 11’, 30’, Berisha 52’
Brisbane Roar (0)

After waiting until the halfway mark in the season for the first clash of the season between these two, the home side got off to a fast start to essentially put the game to bed in the opening half hour. Brisbane, who were top of the league going into the game started off sluggishly and never really recovered from a couple of midfield errors which resulted in the opening two goals.

Round 23
Brisbane Roar (5) Maclaren 18’, 22’, 87’, Brown 55’, Corona 76’
Melbourne Victory (0)

Brisbane well and truly got their own back in round 23, with a rampaging 5-0 win at home, with Jamie Maclaren out to prove a point after being overlooked for the recently announced Socceroos squad. Melbourne were in the middle of a busy patch of their schedule with ACL however they were well and truly out played by Brisbane on the night.

Round 27
Melbourne Victory (0)
Brisbane Roar (0)

All of that brings us to last weekend, a game where there was nothing on the line for the home side and everything on the line for Brisbane, and despite throwing everything at the Victory it wasn’t enough to get the goal. Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas made a string of excellent saves, but the Roar had the chances to put the game –and the Premiership- to bed.

Squads
Brisbane Roar squad
1) Michael Theo, 3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 8) Steven Lustica, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Henrique, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 15) James Donachie, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 24) Tommy Oar 28) Brandon Borrello.
*two to be omitted.

Melbourne Victory squad
1) Danny Vukovic, 2) Jason Geria, 3) Scott Galloway, 4) Nick Ansell, 5) Daniel Georgievski, 6) Leigh Broxham, 7) Gui Finkler, 8) Besart Berisha, 9) Kosta Barbarouses, 10) Archie Thompson, 13) Oliver Bozanic, 14) Fahid Ben Khalfallah, 17) Mathieu Delpierre, 19) George Howard, 20) Lawrence Thomas, 21) Carl Valeri, 22) Jesse Makarounas, 23) Jai Ingham.

Expected line-ups
Brisbane XI: Young, Hingert, North, Donachie, Brown, Petratos, Corona, McKay, Oar, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes: Theo, Bowles, Lustica, Borrello, Henrique.
Omitted: Stefanutto, Hervas.

Despite failing to get the desired result last week in Melbourne, it’s unlikely that John Aloisi will tamper with his starting side for this game. Last weeks decision to insert Tommy Oar into the starting side had an impact on the side and his influence should continue to grow as his fitness does the same.

Melbourne XI: Thomas, Geria, Delpierre, Broxham, Galloway, Valeri, Bozanic, Finkler, Barbarous, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Substitutes: Vukovic, Georgievski, Makarounas, Howard, Thompson.
Omitted: Ansell, Ingham.

After resting many of their established stars last week due to a hectic schedule, this week should see many of Melbourne’s best players return to the side. The likes of Broxham, Delpierre and Barbarouses were left out last week and should all return this week, while Berisha returns from suspension. The big question for Kevin Muscat will likely be surrounding club captain Carl Valeri, whose recent return from a brain illness has been successful.

Recent form
Brisbane: DWWLW
Melbourne: DWWDL

Top Scorer
Brisbane: Jamie Maclaren (18)
Melbourne: Besart Berisha (17)

All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory

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