Hyundai A-League Finals Series preview: Roar v Victory

It’s do-or-die as two teams who played out a thrilling draw just six days ago meet again in an crackerjack Elimination Final. Will it be Roar or Victory that stay alive at Suncorp on Friday night?

Hyundai A-League 2016 Elimination Final 1

Friday, 15 April 2016

Brisbane Roar FC (3) v Melbourne Victory (6)

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Kick-Off: 7:35 pm (Local) (7:35 AEST)

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream

Assistant Referee 2: David Walsh

Fourth Official: Nathan MacDonald

Additional Assistant Referee 1: Ben Williams

Additional Assistant Referee 2: Peter Green

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEST), SBS TWO from 8:00pm AEST and Sky Sport Pop Up (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 612 ABC Brisbane, Grandstand Digital (Bris) Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-League Live. Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio)

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #BRIvMVC #ALFinals

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets 

Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 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 (c), 18.Javier HERVAS, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 24.Tommy OAR, 28.Brandon BORRELLO

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (promoted), 18.Javier HERVAS (promoted)

Roar's Javier Hervas takes a slip against Melbourne Victory.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: Nil

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 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.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 4.Nick ANSELL (returns from injury), 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (promoted), 6.Leigh BROXHAM (promoted), 8.Besart BERISHA (returns from suspension), 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (promoted), 10.Archie THOMPSON (promoted), 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE (promoted)

Kosta Barbarouses celebrates his second-half goal against the Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

Outs: 11.Connor PAIN (omitted), 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO (omitted), 18.Dylan MURNANE (omitted), 24.Thomas DENG (omitted), 32.Stefan NIGRO (omitted)

Unavailable: 16.Rashid MAHAZI (ankle)

#BRIvMVC

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Here we go again. 

Just six days after they played out a gripping stalemate in Melbourne - one which denied the Queenslanders a Premiership - Roar and Victory do battle again. 

And now with everything on the line and a huge crowd expected, this will surely be another special night in Hyundai A-League history. 

You can’t help think a little of Brisbane’s motivation will be exacting revenge on the visitors.

Victory – and in particular keeper Lawrence Thomas - denied Roar the Premiership last Saturday in that 0-0 draw at AAMI Park.

Lawrence Thomas - class keeper

While it won’t give them the Premiers’ Plate - that's sitting proudly in the Reds trophy cabinet now - John Aloisi’s side would take great satisfaction by ending Victory’s title defence in week one of the Finals Series. 

It’s been Kevin Muscat’s side that has dominated this fixture over the last couple of seasons, winning four of the last six clashes between the two.

But the last meeting at Suncorp was a crushing 5-0 win to Roar just over a month ago in Round 23. 

You don’t have to be Einstein to know this one will be much tighter. 

An under-strength Victory proved last weekend they have the structure and discipline to blunt Roar’s attack. Can they pose a threat at the other end as well? 

Melbourne Victory midfielder Guilherme Finkler has signed a two-year deal with Wellington Phoenix.

Victory received a huge boost in that department this week with prolific striker Besart Berisha having his two-game ban cut in half, making him available for this one.

What a story it would be if Berisha came back to Brisbane and put an end to their season. 

Bittersweet for Bes, no doubt. 

The Albanian is one of seven changes to the Victory squad as Muscat recalls his big guns, while Roar’s squad is likely to be unchanged.

The main question for the home side will be whether Aloisi sticks with Tommy Oar in the starting XI or brings youngster and NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominee Brandon Borrello back into the line-up.

Brandon Borrello has re-signed with Brisbane Roar for a further two seasons.

So many match-winners in either side, so many intriguing story lines. 

OPTA DATA

*Brisbane Roar has won six of their last eight finals matches and has never lost a finals encounter on home soil in the Hyundai A-League (W6, D2).

*Victory have suffered only one loss on the road since the beginning of February (W2, D1, L1), though that loss was a 5-0 capitulation to Brisbane.

*These teams have faced each other only once before in the Hyundai A-League finals, with Brisbane notching a 1-0 win in the 2013/14 season.

*Roar has had 11 different goal-scorers this Hyundai A-League season, compared to just seven for Victory. Three of Roar’s defenders have contributed goals but no Victory defender has found the back of the net.

ROUTE TO GOAL

There were no goals last weekend but it’s hard to see that being the case again with the amount of attacking talent in either side.

In the Blue corner there’s Berisha, Barbarouses, Finkler and Ben Khalfallah, while the Orange corner boasts Maclaren, Broich, Borrello and Petratos.

There’s no doubt the return of Berisha significantly boost Victory’s hopes of a win.

Some of the half chances they created last weekend went by the wayside. 

Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Besart Berisha celebrate a goal in the rout of Brisbane Roar.

But Berisha has the knack of converting those chances into goals.

He won’t give North or Donachie a moments breathing space either, which could help bring some of his other teammates into play.

The key for the visitors will be getting good early service to their wide men Barbarouses and FBK to allow them one-on-one contests with Roar’s young fullbacks.

Roar only has themselves to blame for firing a blank last weekend. They got into a number of good positions but either fluffed their lines or made it easy for Lawrence Thomas to save.

But they should take solace in the fact they were able to unlock Victory’s defence fairly regularly due to their incisive passing and the clever runs of Maclaren and Oar in particular. 

They will also benefit from the bigger, wider pitch at Suncorp which will give Roar’s pacy front line a little more space to exploit in behind. 

Jamie Maclaren believes home support will prove crucial in Roar's clash with Victory.

Don’t be surprised if super-sub Henrique has a say in the outcome as well. 

The “Slippery Fish” has scored five goals in eight finals appearances over the last few seasons and looms as a super sub with real X Factor. 

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Besart Berisha. Was given a reprieve midweek by the MRP and will line up in a huge boost for Victory. The combustible striker lives for these kinds of occasions and if the visitors are to be victorious, expect Bes to have a big say.

FORM LINES

Roar: WLWWD

Victory: LDWWD

PREDICTION

Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Victory