After all the hype the new Hyundai A-League season kicks off on Friday night in Brisbane, featuring two clubs that have won six Championships between them.
Friday 7 October 2016
Brisbane Roar FC v Melbourne Victory
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off: 6:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
Referee: Shaun Evans
Assistant Referee 1: Ashley Beecham
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Lindsay
Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS TWO from 7.30pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 612 ABC Brisbane & ABC Local Radio Qld, 774 ABC Melbourne & ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live,Crocmedia A-League Live (www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio), EON Sports Radio (eonsportsradio.com)
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #BRIvMVC
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 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 (c), 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 26.Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 33.Joey KATEBIAN
**two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 23.Dimitri PETRATOS (ankle – 2 weeks), 24.Connor O’TOOLE (international duty – 4 weeks)
Melbourne Victory squad: 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 (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 27.Alastair BRAY (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 7.Marco ROJAS (international duty – 1 week), 16.Rashid MAHAZI (illness – 1 week)
The bookies fancy Victory for the title. Roar, you suspect, will be right up there at the end of the season. And both are all about attack. Should make for a ripper season opener at Suncorp on Friday night.
Brisbane Roar went out last season one game from the Grand Final in an epic 5-4 loss to Wanderers in Sydney.
And despite a turnover of staff (Corona, Stefanutto and Donachie, to Victory) and some off-field issues, they have retained a core of key personnel and covered those losses nicely with Brett Holman, Thomas Kristensen, Jacob Pepper and new winger Manuel Arana all now enlisted for the Orange Army.
Luke De Vere's return from injury is another boost down back while Tommy Oar's full pre-season should have him primed to add to this excellent Roar frontline.
One thing we know, this will be easy on the eye for the neutrals. Both sides are inclined to want to win games rather than avoid defeat, and have the players who can dominate in their respective attacking thirds.
That said, Victory's Alan Baro will provide the muscle and defensive nous alongside Donachie in front of keeper Lawrence Thomas, while for Roar Jade North was superb last season. He'll be important in the backline again this season along with De Vere in front of either Young or Theo in goal (both strong options).
And with the added spice of a return to Suncorp of former fave Besart Berisha and prodigal son James Donachie, this should be a suitably eye-catching season opener.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Roar haven't changed. They are the great entertainers. How many nights of late drama have they put on for their fans over the last few seasons?
The last time was, ironically, against Victory in the 2016 Finals Series, adding some spice to this always entertaining clash.
The A-League debut of Brett Holman, who'll play off Jamie Maclaren, will excite the home fans. In fact, the front five has a quite awesome look to it with Maclaren, Thomas Broich, Tommy Oar, Dimi Petratos, Brandon Borrello and new signing, winger Manuel Arana all options.
Likewise, the returning James Troisi - who knows the club and their philosophy well - will be playing off Besart Berisha and Fahid Ben Khalfallah with Mitch Austin, Jai Ingham and George Howard the other options. Star recruit Marco Rojas is away on international duty with New Zealand.
No Archie Thompson for Victory but this forward line has a strong look to it.
Expect goals from both sides.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Leigh Broxham. He hopes to banish the bitter Brisbane memories he has of last season's Finals Series loss, a defeat in which the Big V had the win in their grasp, but allowed it to slip in the final frantic few minutes.
Victory have successfully negotiated the FFA Cup and have a semi final to come later this month. Their friendly results have also been impressive, the best being at the start of the pre-season when they defeated Juventus and Atletico Madrid no less in consecutive friendly matches.
For Roar, they were knocked out of the FFA Cup by Perth Glory but exacted a measure of revenge with a 4-0 win in Sydney in September followed by a win over a local Queensland NPL select side 3-1.
Brisbane Roar 2-3 Melbourne Victory