Preview: Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory
The improved Brisbane Roar take on a Melbourne side which has been superb away from home this season and will be hoping to put a poor performance against Central Coast behind it.
Date: Saturday November 21 Kick-off: 7:00pm AEST, 6:00pm AEST Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 14 Hyundai A-League meetings: Wins: Melbourne 8, Brisbane 4. Draws: 2
Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Etihad Stadium, Round 9, October 2009
Season so far: Brisbane Roar: Round 10: Brisbane Roar 0, Gold Coast United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 11: Brisbane Roar 0, Central Coast 3, Suncorp Stadium Round 12: Sydney FC 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 13: Brisbane Roar 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 14: Adelaide United 0, Brisbane Roar 2, Hindmarsh Stadium
Melbourne Victory: Round 10: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 3, Etihad Stadium Round 11: Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 12: Melbourne Victory 3, Adelaide United 1, Etihad Stadium Round 13: Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Victory 2, ME Bank Stadium Round 14: Melbourne Victory 0, Central Coast 4, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis: After a tumultuous first half of the season, Brisbane Roar goes into the second half looking to get some momentum back and make a concerted challenge for the top six. But it takes on a Melbourne side which has been superb away from home this season and will be hoping to put a poor performance against Central Coast behind it.
Ange Postecoglou has taken a few weeks to get his team playing the brand of football he wants, but the excellent 2-0 win in Adelaide last round indicated that the talented line-up is starting to gel again. Prior to that, the Roar had gone five games without a win, including four losses. It's a dip in form which could prove costly to the team in terms of ladder position at season's end, but Postecoglou has the belief in his men to turn things around.
The last three goals the Roar have scored have all been put in the net by Sergio van Dijk and there is no doubt the Dutchman is one of the most important players in the team. He constantly gets himself in scoring positions and when he gets in his rhythm in terms of finishing, he is such a dangerous player.
The continued fitness of Danny Tiatto is also of great importance to Postecoglou, who needs the hard-nosed midfielder to control the play forward and also disturb opposition attacking moves.
Craig Moore, returning from Qantas Socceroo duty, is another vital player in this match when you consider how dangerous Melbourne is in attack.
The previous encounter between these two saw Melbourne prevail 2-1 at Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Ney Fabiano and Adrian Leijer, while Reinaldo scored for the Roar. However, it is also remembered for the physical treatment handed out to former Roar player Robbie Kruse. Charlie Miller overstepped the line and was handed a two-match ban. Interestingly, the Scot hasn't made an appearance since and does not appear to be part of the new coach's plans.
However, Miller has been included in an extended squad along with Tommy Oar, Bob Malcolm and first-choice keeper Liam Reddy, who has recovered from injury.
The other clash between these two this season was an epic 3-3 draw, also at Etihad Stadium, in Round 2. In that match, Carlos Hernandez put in two claims for goal of the year, while Tiatto produced a strike which was probably better than either of the Costa Rican's efforts.
So with nine goals in two encounters this year, you'd expect this to be a goal-fest. Not necessarily so. In the six matches played between these two teams at this venue, there have only been 10 goals scored, only three of which have been scored by the Roar. The only time Brisbane has defeated Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium was in 2007.
When you combine that with the fact Melbourne has won five out of six away from home this season, it suddenly looks a very difficult task for the Roar.
But while Melbourne is currently second on the table and has won six of its past eight, it is hard to ignore that terrible 4-0 defeat against Central Coast in its previous match. It was the Victory's worst-ever home defeat and equal-worst Hyundai A-League loss ever.
The Mariners were able to expose Melbourne's lack of speed at the back and created the best chances by moving the ball quickly to get around the Victory's defence. No doubt there would have been some soul searching for the defending champions who have now gone seven matches without a clean sheet and have the equal-worst defensive record in the league.
They do have two of the competition's best attacking players in Archie Thompson and Carlos Hernandez, but constant injuries to key midfielders has meant an over-reliance on young players. Thankfully for Melbourne, coming back this week are Nick Ward and Kruse, who will lend considerable support in that department. Questions remain over whether Thai pair Surat Sukha and Sutee Suksomkit, who will fly directly back to Brisbane, will be ready to return having played against Singapore on Wednesday. Evan Berger is on standby should Sukha fail to come up.
The other change which could be considered is in goals, with Mitch Langerak pressing Glen Moss for the right to stand between the sticks.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (GK), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Craig MOORE (c), 4. Luke DEVERE, 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 13. HENRIQUE, 15. Matt McKAY, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Griffin McMASTER (GK), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC*three to be omitted*
In: Charlie MILLER (returns from injury), Tommy OAR (returns from international duty), Bob MALCOLM (promoted), Liam REDDY (returns from injury)
Out: Matt ACTON (end of short-term contract)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3.Mate DUGANDZIC, 5.Surat SUKHA, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13.Nathan ELASI, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 22.Nick WARD, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 27.Sutee SUKSOMKIT *four to be omitted*
In: Evan BERGER (return from injury), Matthew FOSCHINI (promoted), Robbie KRUSE (return from injury), Nick Ward (return from injury)
Unavailable: Marvin ANGULO (pending registration), Billy CELESKI (knee - season), Steven PACE (calf - 1 week), Tom PONDELJAK (calf - 1 week)