Preview: Gold Coast v Brisbane Roar
As if the Gold Coast v Brisbane rivalry could get any bigger, now there's the Charlie Miller factor thrown into the mix to ensure this clash has the hallmarks of a tasty Christmas treat.
Date: Saturday December 26 Kick-off: 5:00 AEST Venue: Skilled Park TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 2. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au.
Head-to-head Played 2: Wins: Gold Coast United 2, Brisbane Roar 0. Draws: 0
Previous meeting Brisbane 0, Gold Coast United 1, Suncorp Stadium, Round 10, October 2009
Past five matches: Gold Coast: Round 15: Adelaide United 1, Gold Coast United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 16: Melbourne Victory 4, Gold Coast United 0, Etihad Stadium Round 17: Gold Coast United 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, Skilled Park Round 18: Newcastle Jets 3, Gold Coast United 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 20: Gold Coast United 2, Perth Glory 0, Skilled Park
Brisbane Roar: Round 16: Brisbane Roar 4, Wellington Phoenix 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 1, Brisbane Roar 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 19: Brisbane Roar 2, North Queensland 0, Suncorp Stadium Round 20: Central Coast 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis: As if the Gold Coast v Brisbane rivalry could get any bigger, now there's the Charlie Miller factor thrown into the mix to ensure this clash has the hallmarks of a tasty Christmas treat.
Despite struggling for overall consistency, Gold Coast still has the early form against its bigger brother from up the road, having beaten the Roar on two occasions this season. Their first-round clash was one of the games of the season so far, while United took the points once again in Round 10 in a solid 1-0 result. However, despite the formline, this is a very different Brisbane side to the one that played earlier in the season as Frank Farina's departure led to a mini player exodus that's seen Liam Reddy and Miller look for opportunities elsewhere. More importantly, after a poor run of results around the time of Frank Farina's departure, the Roar appear to be building some momentum heading towards the business end of the season, but they may just hit a Miller road-block this time around.
Miller, the club's best player last season, had struggled to replicate that form for the Roar this year as his campaign was interrupted by injury and suspension. But his defection to United, where he's already shown his value in last week's 2-0 win over Perth, has certainly added an extra dose of spice to a rivalry that was already simmering along nicely anyhow. Without doubt, the crafty Scotsman will want to produce the goods in front of new Roar coach Ange Postecoglou, whose belief that Miller was unfit led to the departure. But Miller will have to contend with the attention of a Roar defence that knows his tricks only too well, especially skipper Craig Moore, a friend of 17 years after the pair played together at Rangers.
Miller will be just one headache for the Roar defence, though, as sharpshooter Shane Smeltz appears to have regained his early-season form after something of a mid-season slump. The United forward pack has also been boosted by Tahj Minniecon's inclusion, while Joel Porter will be better for his first run on the park last week against the Glory after being injured as well.
Indeed, instead of the 1-0 result we saw last time these two sides met, both clubs have forwards in fine fettle. For the Roar, teenager Tommy Oar continues to grow in confidence, his quality form reflected in a Socceroos' call-up this week, while Sergio van Dijk remains one of the most dangerous players in the league, the Dutchman capable of anything on his day as he showed against Adelaide just recently. Indeed, this clash is pitting the competition's top two forwards against each other as Smeltz, with 15 goals to his name, and van Dijk (11) race for this season's Golden Boot award.
Chances are, as soon as you say a shoot-out's on the cards, the game will end 0-0, but with so much attacking talent on the pitch, it's difficult to see that happening. Postecoglou is slowly instilling his own culture of excellence on this squad and will not shirk from demanding a huge effort attacking effort from his players. The Brisbane coach will also be glad to have his first-choice squad back for this encounter as veterans Reinaldo and Danny Tiatto return from injury to an extended roster. Indeed, all these ingredients point to this being some match, but with the fiery nature of both Tiatto and Miller going head to head, don't be surprised if there's some fireworks as well.
Gold Coast squad: Gold Coast United Squad: 1.Jess VANSTRATTAN [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 18.James BROWN, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.ANDERSON, 34.Charlie MILLER.
*three to be omitted*
In: 18.James BROWN (promoted), 15.Tahj MINNIECON (promoted), 17.Matt OSMAN (promoted).
Unavailable: 4.Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury - indefinite), 5.ROBSON (knee injury - 2 weeks), 8.JEFFERSON (knee injury - indefinite)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Matt HAM (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 11. REINALDO, 12.Matthew MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt McKAY, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tommy OAR, 22. Ivan FRANJIC, 23. Tim SMITS
*four to be omitted*
In: REINALDO (returns from injury), Danny TIATTO (returns from injury)