Preview: Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Heart

The Roar have won all three of their matches to date against the competition's newest club, and they've done so convincingly.

Date: Friday, 9 December 2011 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.00pm local Venue: Suncorp Stadium

Head-to-head Played 3: Wins: Brisbane 3, Heart 0, Draws: 0

Previous encounter Brisbane 2, Heart 1, 29 January 2011

History: The Roar have won all three of their matches to date against the competition's newest club, and they've done so convincingly. Last time they met, goals to Jean Carlos Solorzano and James Meyer were enough for an easy 2-1 victory, played out at Skilled Park in the aftermath of the Brisbane floods last January. All in all, the Heart have only put a total of two goals past the reigning premiers.

Form: Past five matches: Brisbane: DDWWL Heart: DWWLW

Summary of form: It had to end eventually. But even when Sydney FC gave Brisbane Roar their first loss in 36 games last weekend at Kogarah, it still came as a shock. It was the first time the Roar were held scoreless since their streak began, but of more concern was that they looked overwhelmingly second-best on the day.

And wouldn't you know it - on the basis of their last five matches, the Heart are somehow in overall better form than Brisbane. It's starting to come together for John van 't Schip's men, who have 10 points out of a possible 15 over that period. Even though they got out of Morwell by the skin of their teeth after Wellington's late barrage of shots on goal, it was pleasing to see fortune favour the Heart for once.

Match Committee: Brisbane's missing link last week - Thomas Broich - is back. After a bruised heel kept him out of their loss to the Sky Blues, he will most likely return to the starting XI - but Henrique (corked leg) and James Meyer (groin) are unlikely.

For Melbourne Heart, Wayne Srhoj returns for suspension, Alex Terra resumes after a spell on the sidelines with injury and one-time rising star David Williams is back in the squad. For them, only Nick Kalmar (back) and Kliment Taseski (foot) are unavailable.

Danger men: Erik Paartalu - The anchor of the Roar midfield found out against Sydney that life isn't so easy when the opposition presses higher up the pitch. When that happens, he has less time on the ball - and that means less time to pick out free teammates and make sure his passes meet their target. After the Sky Blues showed the rest of the league how it's done, Paartalu is bound to have plenty of attention for the rest of the season - but he has the quality to overcome it.

Matt Thompson - Since his move from defence to the middle of the park, Thompson has been instrumental in the Heart's recent success. He was involved in their first goal against Wellington and could have had at least one or two himself had the woodwork shown a little bit more accommodation. Everything the Heart does comes through him.

At the end of the day… We'll learn a little bit more about the Brisbane Roar this weekend. With their streak now a thing of the past and a blueprint for how to beat them there for all to see courtesy of Sydney, how they respond this week will be fascinating.

There's no doubt they have champion qualities - just look at how they overcame the challenge of Central Coast in the finals last year, or the way they demolished Perth a fortnight ago to claim Australian sporting history. But they must produce them again on Friday, against a Heart side who were extremely lucky to escape the LaTrobe Valley with three points.

Late in the game, the red and whites were under siege by a rampant Phoenix outfit but somehow managed to keep a clean sheet. They might be able to do that against a side fancied to miss the finals, but if they come to Suncorp with that kind of defensive pressure then the Roar will find themselves back in the winners' circle pretty quickly.

Teams:

Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith (Capt.), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman , 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 22. Thomas Broich, 30. Matt Acton (GK). *two to be omitted*

In: 9. Kofi Danning (promoted), 19. Jack Hingert (promoted), 22. Thomas Broich (returns from heel injury) Out: 21. James Meyer (adductor injury - 1 week) Unavailable:

Melbourne Heart Squad: 1.Clint Bolton (gk), 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 5.Fred, 6.Matt Thompson, 7.Rutger Worm, 9.Maycon, 10.Wayne Srhoj, 11.Alex Terra. 13.Jonatan Germano, 15.David Williams, 16.Aziz Behich, 17.Jason Hoffman, 18.Curtis Good, 19.Eli Babalj, 23.Mate Dugandzic, 25.Adrian Madaschi, 30.Sebastian Mattei (gk) *three to be omitted*

In: Wayne Srhoj (returns from suspension), Alex Terra (returns from injury), David Williams (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Nick Kalmar (back - four weeks), Kliment Taseski (fractured foot - long term)