Preview: Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC

You could forgive Sydney FC fans for having a bit of an uneasy feeling heading into this one.

Date: Saturday 14 January, 2012 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT, 6.45pm local Venue: Suncorp Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 22 Wins: Brisbane 8, Sydney 6, Draws: 8

Previous encounter Sydney 2, Brisbane 0, 4 December 2011

History: Brisbane's record-breaking 36-match unbeaten streak ended at the hands of Sydney FC the last time these two sides met. It was a cold, wet, windy day at WIN Jubilee Oval in Kogarah, and the conditions suited the giant-killing Sky Blues to a tee. A first-minute goal to Dimi Petratos and corner kick from Brett Emerton that was hijacked by the wind gave them a 2-0 buffer which was all they needed to see off the Roar in a result that shocked the competition.

Form:

Past five matches: Brisbane: LLWDD Sydney: WDLLL

Summary of form: Brisbane have started to recover after that loss to Sydney in early December sent them into a tailspin. They are unbeaten in their last three matches and have started to rediscover their touch in front of goal, having scored seven times during that period. They did well to hold an Adelaide United side still under the spell of 'Kossiemania' to a 1-1 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium in their last outing. Of course, with the big inclusions they'll make to their squad this weekend, everything changes.

When the Sky Blues knocked off the Roar at Kogarah, they were quickly slapped with the 'title contenders' label. It doesn't fit anymore.

They've lost their last three matches - against the Heart, Wellington and Central Coast - and now dreams of a top-two finish seem shattered. Their defence has been their biggest strength for much of the season, with Pascal Bosschaart and Michael Beauchamp forming a solid centre-back pairing - but over the last three weeks it's been an issue, with a total of nine goals conceded.

Match Committee: Just when things appeared like they couldn't get any worse for Sydney, it looks like Brisbane will be able to call upon the services of Thomas Broich and Henrique.

Broich has missed the last eight matches with a bruised heel, and the Roar haven't quite looked the same without him. Henrique is over his knee troubles, too, meaning they'll be close to full strength on Saturday. The only question mark for the Sky Blues hangs over Nick Carle and his troublesome hamstring.

Danger men:

Thomas Broich - He's back. Brisbane's mastermind in midfield should make his long awaited return from injury, and that's great news for Besart Berisha who has clearly missed Broich's service over the past eight matches.

The Roar are a completely different side with the German in the mix, so it's going to be interesting to watch how the men in orange go with him and Henrique back in the team. Will they return to their record-breaking ways, or have they really just slipped back to the rest of the A-League pack?

Brett Emerton - With his side reeling from three losses on the trot, it's time for the marquee man to stand up and take a game by the scruff of the neck again. And he's done it before - most notably when he teamed up beautifully with Nick Carle at home to Gold Coast earlier in the season, tearing shreds down the right flank and tipping the match in their favour.

Sydney FC have plenty of quality on their books, it's just a matter of getting it all firing at once. Emerton can lead the way.

At the end of the day... You could forgive Sydney FC fans for having a bit of an uneasy feeling heading into this one. Already in a vein of poor form, the Sky Blues face a trip to the home of the defending champions who will welcome back two of their best players in Broich and Henrique.

Not only are they quality footballers, but they're important cogs in the Brisbane Roar attacking machine. They provide spark, impetus and the luxury of first class service for Berisha.

Sydney will have to be at their best to stop them. The heat was already on Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka, but this weekend it'll be turned up to full blast.

Can he get his men clicking again? Will they respond? Will it be enough against a reunited Roar? It's probably unfair to expect too much from players who have spent weeks on the sidelines to simply carve up again on their return, but if Broich and Henrique play we can't help but feel like Saturday will herald a return to the Roar of old, if only for one night.

Teams

Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith, 3. Shane Stefanutto (C), 4. Matt Jurman , 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 14. Rocky Visconte, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 22. Thomas Broich *three to be omitted*

In: 10. Henrique (returns from knee injury), 19. Jack Hingert (promoted), 22. Thomas Broich (returns from heel injury) Out: Nil Unavailable: Nil

Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam Reddy, 2. Sebastian Ryall, 3. Jamie Coyne, 4. Pascal Bosschaart, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Karol Kisel, 9. Bruno Cazarine, 10. Nick Carle, 11. Dimi Petratos, 12. Shannon Cole, 15. Terry McFlynn (c), 17. Terry Antonis, 18. Juho Makela, 19. Mark Bridge, 20. Ivan Necevski, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Rhyan Grant *three to be omitted*

In: Scott Jamieson, Jamie Coyne, Juho Makela (all promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Mitch Mallia (knee - 1 week)