Preview: Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC
Brisbane is in the last chance saloon when it comes to making the finals but whether the eighth-placed club can put aside its issues and get on with the job against ominously in-form Sydney remains to be seen.
Date: Saturday January 30 Kick-off: 6:00pm AEST, 7:00pm AEDT Venue: Suncorp Stadium TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, 1 HD and Sky Sport 1. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au.
Head-to-head Played 16: Wins: Brisbane Roar 4, Sydney FC 5, Draws: 7
Previous meeting Sydney FC 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium, Round 12, October 2009
Past five matches: Brisbane Roar: Round 20: Central Coast 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Gold Coast United 5, Brisbane Roar 1, Skilled Park Round 22: Wellington Phoenix 3, Brisbane Roar 1, Westpac Stadium Round 23: Brisbane Roar 0, Newcastle Jets 2, Suncorp Stadium Round 24: North Queensland 1, Brisbane Roar 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Sydney FC: Round 19: Central Coast 0, Sydney FC 1, Bluetongue Stadium Round 21: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, Sydney Football Stadium Round 22: Perth Glory 0, Sydney FC 0, ME Bank Stadium Round 23: Sydney FC 0, Gold Coast United 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 24: Newcastle Jets 1, Sydney FC 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Analysis: Brisbane is in the last chance saloon when it comes to making the finals but whether the eighth-placed club can put aside its issues and get on with the job against ominously in-form Sydney remains to be seen.
It would be fair to say it hasn't been the greatest week of Ange Postecoglou's coaching tenure at Brisbane as he's tried dealing with numerous spot fires that have nothing to do with the game coming up. Part of the problem, though, has been results on the park. Although the club has struggled to build momentum during Postecoglou's reign as the coach looks to youth to build long-term, it's worth noting Ange has presided over more wins this season than previous coach Frank Farina.
However the recent mass exodus of senior players has had an impact, the Roar losing three of their last four games to all but fall out of finals contention. Brisbane managed to stop a three-game losing run through a 1-1 draw with North Queensland last weekend but whether Postecoglou can turn that draw into the three wins needed to mathematically make the finals remains to be seen.
The coach has brought Adam Sarota and Henrique into the extended squad this week but has had some injury issues to deal with since submitting the team. On Thursday afternoon youngster Ivan Franjic was forced to leave training early with a calf injury and is in extreme doubt, while Massimo Murdocca and Michael Zullo both have minor quad issues that could prevent them playing.
Although, the last two seasons has seen Sydney dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons this time of year, in 2009-10 Vitezslav Lavicka is presiding over a well-oiled machine that appears to be building nicely for its return to the finals after missing out last season. The Sky Blues endured a minor blip earlier in the month when held to a 0-0 draw in Perth ahead of losing 1-0 to Gold Coast United. That blip corresponded directly with Alex Brosque missing out with a groin injury, the results seeing the Sky Blues concede top spot on the table. But with Brosque returning, Sydney produced its first come-from-behind win of the season last week at Newcastle to now sit just one point behind league leader Melbourne in the race for the Premiers plate.
Sydney has a few injury issues however, as Mark Bridge injured his toe during training ahead of playing the Jets. Doctors believe Bridge's injury is just for three weeks, but it could be still touch and go for his fitness come finals. The good news for Sydney, though, is that in-form John Aloisi suffered nothing more than a hamstring spasm when he was forced off in the 76th minute against the Jets, while Chris Payne appears to be growing in confidence every week, the young striker slotting his team's third goal last week.
Indeed, the Sky Blues appear to have all the bases covered when it comes to playing Brisbane. It has the defence to contain a player as good as the Roar's Sergio van Dijk while Sydney's midfield, led by Karol Kisel, and its forward division is far more experienced than Brisbane's. But the Roar will be hurting from a difficult past week and with finals still a mathematical possibility, the scene could be set for fireworks at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Matt HAM (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Pieter COLLEN, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Steven BRYCE, 11. REINALDO, 13. HENRIQUE, 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC *two to be omitted*
In: Adam SAROTA (promoted), HENRIQUE (returns from injury)
Unavailable: Josh McCLOUGHAN (hip flexor - 1 week)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Clint BOLTON (gk), 3.Stephan KELLER, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 6.Karol KISEL, 7.Brendan GAN, 8.Stuart MUSIALIK, 9.John ALOISI, 10.Steve CORICA (c), 12.Shannon COLE, 14.Alex BROSQUE, 15.Terry MCFLYNN, 16.Chris PAYNE, 20.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22.Sung-Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26 Hayden FOXE *one to be omitted*
Out: Mark BRIDGE (Toe - 4 weeks)
Unavailable: Kofi DANNING (knee - season), Matthew JURMAN (foot - season), Sebastian RYALL (knee - 3 weeks)