Hyundai A-League preview: Sydney FC v Brisbane

Brisbane is in a worrying form slump and won’t find it easy to arrest it on Saturday night against a Sydney FC side which is hard to break down and enjoy a great recent record against Roar.

MATCH DETAILS

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM (AEDT))

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.15pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: 702 ABC Sydney, 612 ABC Brisbane, ABC Local Radio NSW, ABC Local Radio Qld, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #SYDvBRI

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

Sydney FC squad: 1.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 3.Alex GERSBACH, 5.Matt JURMAN, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Christopher NAUMOFF, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 22.Ali ABBAS, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 24.George BLACKWOOD, 27.Mickael TAVARES

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Alex GERSBACH (return from Olyroos duty), 24.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)

Graham Arnold has played down talk of a move overseas for fullback Alex Gersbach.

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 14.Alex BROSQUE (hamstring – 2 weeks)

Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk),  5.Corey BROWN, 7.CORONA,  8.Steven LUSTICA,  9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.HENRIQUE, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 17.Matt McKAY (c), 18.Javier HERVAS, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Shannon BRADY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO 

**two to be omitted**

Ins: 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 15.James DONACHIE, 28.Brandon BORRELLO (all return from Olyroos duty)

Jamie Maclaren has been in scintillating goal-scoring touch for Brisbane Roar.

Outs: 33.Luke DeVERE (omitted)

Unavailable: 6.Jerome POLENZ (quadriceps - 8 weeks), 11.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (quadricep - 5 weeks)

#SYDvBRI

BLUFFER’S GUIDE

Sydney FC’s struggles against non-NSW teams continues. The Sky Blues are still yet to beat a team from outside their own state this season.

And they come into this one fresh from a 1-0 loss on Tuesday night in the Big Blue at Etihad. 

All of the Sky Blues' seven wins have come against either the Wanderers, Mariners and Jets, with the other nine matches against  out-of-towners garnering just six draws and three defeats.

Will this incredible run of outs against non-NSW sides end here?

Graham Arnold’s side has a strong recent record against Roar, unbeaten in the last five between the two clubs, winning two of those.

Sydney FC players celebrate Shane Smeltz's late winner in the Sydney Derby.

And with Roar struggling at the back of late – including a 4-1 drubbing at home against Adelaide last weekend – the Sky Blues will start favourites in this one.

Brisbane’s troubles started when lethal attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello left for Olyroos duty but the pair are back to bolster the visitors' strike-force.

You can bet the pair will come straight into the starting side, while James Donachie must be pushing for a start at the back given Roar’s defensive frailties of late.

Alex Gersbach and George Blackwood have been added to the Sky Blues squad and expect the Olyroo defender to slot straight back in at left-back after missing three games on U-23 national team duty.

It was a tense 0-0 draw the last time these two sides met and this one should be just as tight, with victory paramount to keep in touch with the top of the ladder.

OPTA DATA

-Sydney FC is undefeated in their last five Hyundai A-League matches against Brisbane Roar (W2, D3) and have kept three clean sheets in the period.

-Brisbane has lost their last two Hyundai A-League matches, conceding four goals in each of them, a third loss would be their most consecutive losses since March 2015 (4 matches).

-43% of goals Sydney FC have scored in the Hyundai A-League this season have come in the last 15 minutes of play – a league high proportion.

-No player has had more shots at goal without scoring in the Hyundai A-League than Roar’s Thomas Broich (24).

ROUTE TO GOAL

What a relief it must be for Roar boss John Aloisi to have his two Olyroo attackers back.

Maclaren and Borrello had forged a deadly combination so far this season and have contributed 12 of the side’s 23 goals for the campaign.

Brisbane Roar forwards Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello are nominees for the NAB YFOTY award.

In the three games they were missing, Roar failed to score from open play (they scored just once and that was from the penalty spot).

While Henrique, Solorzano and Petratos toiled hard in their absence, they don’t have searing speed.

Without the pace of Maclaren and Borrello, opposition sides were able to play a high line against Brisbane without being too worried about getting caught out in behind.

Not anymore. The movement and speed of the duo means there is always a threat they can get in behind the back four and be clean through on goal.

If there’s any side that can deal with that threat tough it’s Sydney, who possesses the meanest defence in the A-League.

The Sky Blues have been criticised for being too defensive of late but being back in front of their home fans expect them to ask more questions going forward.

Shane Smeltz

The return of Gersbach at left back gives them more penetration on that flank.

And with the Sky Blues likely to have more possession at home, look for Milos Ninkovic to look to prise open Roar’s fragile defence at every opportunity.

WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?

Roar’s back-four. Having conceded four goals in consecutive games for the first time in the club’s history, defence is sure to have been the main focus at Brisbane training this week. Is it enough time to plug the gaps?

FORM LINES

Sydney FC: WDWWL

Brisbane: WWDLL

PREDICTION 

Sydney FC 2-1 Brisbane Roar