Preview: Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
The last time these two teams faced off in a Hyundai A-League match it turned out to be one of the most memorable of the season.
Date: Saturday October 3 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST Venue: Etihad Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au
Head-to-head Played: 13. Wins: Melbourne 7, Brisbane 4. Draw: 2
Previous meeting Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 3, Etihad Stadium, Round 2, August 2009
Season so far: Melbourne Victory: Round 4: Perth Glory 2, Melbourne Victory 1, ME Bank Stadium Round 5: Melbourne Victory 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Etihad Stadium Round 6: Melbourne Victory 1, Wellington Phoenix 1, Etihad Stadium Round 7: Adelaide United 0, Melbourne Victory 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 8: Gold Coast United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Skilled Park
Brisbane Roar: Round 4: Brisbane Roar 1, Central Coast Mariners 0, Suncorp Stadium Round 5: North Queensland Fury 1, Brisbane Roar 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 6: Newcastle Jets 0, Brisbane Roar 3, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 7: Brisbane Roar 2, Perth Glory 4, Suncorp Stadium Round 8: Brisbane Roar 1, Sydney FC 0, Suncorp Stadium
Analysis: The last time these two teams faced off in a Hyundai A-League match it turned out to be one of the most memorable of the season so far as Brisbane took a two-goal lead on two separate occasions, only to be pegged back by Melbourne in a match that ended 3-3. It featured several sensational goals, notably Danny Tiatto's strike and a couple of great goals from Carlos Hernandez.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since that match, and interestingly Robbie Kruse, who fronted the media post-match that day as a Brisbane player has now a member of the Victory squad. Melbourne was also without its leader in Kevin Muscat on that occasion.
To say Muscat's return from a hamstring injury has galvanised the club is a massive understatement. After picking up just six points in the first six rounds, there were questions raised whether Melbourne could get back to the form that saw it charge to the premiership and championship last season. But two weeks later, after Muscat has led the Victory to away successes over Adelaide and Gold Coast, the club is just one point of top spot and well-poised for a mid-season assault,
Muscat's presence has lifted the team in many ways, but especially in defence, where he is working well in tandem with Adrian Leijer and Rody Vargas. While they had their moments last week, and indeed it was the skipper who conceded a penalty, it is clear the Melbourne defence looks so much more composed with him there.
The other vital figure is of course Hernandez, who set the match alight with his wonder strike last week. At times this season, Hernandez has appeared one of the most dominant players in the league, but on other occasions, his hectic schedule, which has included a trip back to Central America, has looked to take its toll. With Danny Allsopp gone, he becomes even more important to the team.
Melbourne has included Evan Berger and Tom Pondeljak into an extended squad, but Pondeljak has been battling with a back ailment and must be in some doubt. Nick Ward's return is uncertain as he battles with a staph infection, while fringe players Nathan Elasi, Steven Pace and Mathew Theodore are all unavailable as well.
Brisbane comes into this match of possibly its best win of the season. While the performance wasn't fantastic, Sergio van Dijk's late strike gave the Roar a vital three points over Sydney and moves them into the bunch on 12 points.
Charlie Miller is undoubtedly the man to watch for this game having orchestrated the majority of Brisbane's attacking moves last week. The burly Scotsman takes an attitude to the game his younger teammates can only marvel at. He plays relentlessly positive football and demands his team-mates do the same.
There is of course no shortage of those types of figures in Frank Farina's team, when you look at the likes of Craig Moore and Danny Tiatto. Moore was recalled to the Qantas Socceroos squad for this week and he looks bound to represent Australia again at next year's World Cup.
Brisbane is still missing two of its impressive midfield from last season with Matt McKay and Massimo Murdocca sidelined, while its best young players in Tommy Oar, Mitch Nichols and Luke DeVere are in Egypt with the Qantas Young Socceroos. Michael Zullo is another two weeks' away with his hip injury, while Andrew Packer will miss another fortnight with an adductor tear.
Two players, Adam Sarota, and short-term acquisition Mario Karlovic, come into an extended squad for this match.
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, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Matthew FOSCHINI, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 21.Robbie KRUSE, 23.Adrian LEIJER *two to be omitted*
In: Evan BERGER (return from injury), Tom PONDELJAK (return from injury)
Unavailable: Billy CELESKI (knee - season), Nathan ELASI (international duty), Steven PACE (abdominal - 2 weeks), Mathew THEODORE (glute - 2 weeks), Nick WARD (infection - indefinite)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 12. Matt MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 14. Adam SAROTA, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 18. Danny TIATTO, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 23. Tim SMITS, 27. Ivan FRANJIC, 29 Mario KARLOVIC *two to be omitted*
In: Adam SAROTA (promoted), Mario KARLOVIC (short term-contract)
Unavailable: Andrew PACKER (adductor - 1 week), Massimo MURDOCCA (fractured leg - 6/8 weeks), Matt McKAY (medial ligament - 2/3 weeks), Michael ZULLO (Hip flexor - 1/2 weeks), Tommy OAR (international duty), Luke DEVERE (international duty), Mitch NICHOLS (international duty)