Reigning Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar FC have fallen behind in the race for a top-six finish and face a crucial showdown away to direct rivals Melbourne City FC in one of the matches of the round on Saturday night.
Saturday, 28 March 2015
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-Off: 7:30 PM (Local) (7:30 PM AEDT)
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 5.Erik PAARTALU, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Harry NOVILLO, 10.Robert KOREN, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16. Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 26.Marc MARINO, 27.Kew JALIENS
**two to be omitted*
Ins: 9.Harry NOVILLO (returns from illness), 15.David WILLIAMS (returns from injury), 16.Josh KENNEDY (returns from injury)
Outs: 6.Aaron MOOY (international duty), 28.Nick SYMEOY, 34.Stefan ZINNI
Unavailable: 3.Robbie WIELAERT (ankle – 3 weeks), 4.Connor CHAPMAN (suspended – 2 matches), 11.Damien DUFF (ankle/calf – indefinite), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (ankle – 8 weeks), 25.Jacob MELLING (knee – 1-2 weeks), 29.Safuwan BAHARUDIN (international duty)
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 2.Jerome POLENZ, 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA, 6.George LAMBADARIDIS, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 16.Devante CLUT, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 26.Lachlan JACKSON, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 34.Shannon BRADY, 36.Fraser CHALMERS (gk)
Unavailable: 1.Michael THEO (groin – 1 week), 5.Corey BROWN (international duty), 10.HENRIQUE (knee – 4 weeks), 13.Jade NORTH (groin – 1 week), 15.James DONACHIE (international duty), 17.Matt McKAY (international duty), 22.Thomas BROICH (ankle – 1 week), 33.Luke DeVERE (international duty)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio VIC, Grandstand Digital (Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth), Online / ABC Radio Mobile phone app.
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Brennan
Assistant Referee 2: George Lakrindis
Fourth Official: David Bruce
It could be now or never for title-holders Brisbane Roar if they want to defend their crown in the Season 10 Finals.
The Queensland side are five points behind sixth-placed City and although they still have one game in hand on John van 't Schip's men, should they lose this one, it would take a major collapse from the incumbents over the final weeks of the campaign for the Roar to sneak back in.
Brisbane's cause has not been helped by the international break. The champions are without Socceroos Matt McKay and Luke DeVere and Olyroos James Donachie and Corey Brown. With first-choice goalkeeper Michael Theo still injured and centre-back Jade North to miss Saturday's match with a groin problem, the visitors' backline will be paper thin at AAMI Park.
On Wednesday Frans Thijssen used holding midfielder Luke Brattan in central defence at home to the Western Sydney Wanderers, who romped to a 4-1 win despite having not previously triumphed on the road this term.
City will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing such a wounded animal, particularly given the hosts will get back three key forwards in Harry Novillo, David Williams and Josh Kennedy.
Van 't Schip is also contending with a lengthy list of absentees - Connor Chapman is suspended, Damien Duff is out for the season, while Robbie Wielaert, Jacob Melling and Ben Garuccio are all injured.
The international break has been less costly to City though, with mid-season Singaporean recruit Safuwan Baharudin and midfielder Aaron Mooy, with the Socceroos in Europe, the only missing personnel.
- Melbourne City have won three of their last four against Brisbane, losing the other.
- The Roar have lost each of their last four away games against Melbourne City, failing to score in the last two.
- None of the last eight games between these two has ended in a draw (five wins for City, three for Roar).
- City are unbeaten in seven league matches at AAMI Park, a run which began with a win over the Roar (W5 D2).
- John van 't Schip's side have conceded just three goals in that run of games and never more than once in any of those games.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Van 't Schip started with Robert Koren, Mate Dugandzic and James Brown in attacking positions last time out. Will that trio keep their spots or could we see any of Williams, Kennedy and Novillo come back into the starting XI? Whichever combination the boss goes with, they will be expected to break down Brisbane's makeshift rearguard with relative ease.
Given their weaknesses at the back, attack may be the best form of defence for the Roar. Matt McKay's energy in midfield will be missed, while they must also make do without Henrique's goals and the creativity of Thomas Broich. That leaves Jean Carlos Solorzano, Andrija Kaluderovic, Brandon Borrello and Dimitri Petratos to get the job done up front.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
James Brown's winner in the surprise 1-0 victory away to Sydney FC last Friday was his first goal since netting six times for Gold Coast United in 2011-12. Can he retain his place and hit the back of the net again this weekend?
Melbourne City: WWLLW
City have won three of their last five, beating Sydney 1-0 away, the Newcastle Jets 4-0 and Adelaide 3-1, both of those at home. Sandwiched in between were successive away defeats, 3-2 at Western Sydney and 1-0 at Central Coast, results which had threatened to derail their finals challenge.
Brisbane Roar: LLLWD
It's been a shocking run for the champions, who had lost their last three in succession, 4-1 at home to Western Sydney, 2-1 at home to Wellington Phoenix and 5-4 away to Sydney FC. That's 11 goals conceded in just three matches.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brisbane Roar have never kept a clean sheet away to Melbourne City (six games).
Melbourne City 3-1 Brisbane Roar
They very rarely make life easy for themselves, but surely this weekend City can seize a golden opportunity to deal a hammer blow to the hopes of their weakened rivals.
Fail to do so and familiar, pointed questions about the mentality of Van 't Schip's men will asked yet again.