Preview: Queensland Roar v Melbourne Victory
This encounter is crucial to Queensland consolidating its position in the top four and to Melbourne's chances of developing some winning momentum after last round's last-gasp victory over Adelaide.
Date: Saturday November 8 Kick-off: 7:00pm local (8:00 pm AEDT) Venue: Suncorp Stadium TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and on Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is SEN (Melbourne) 1116AM. To purchase tickets visit www.premierticket.com.au
Head-to-head 10 Hyundai A-League meetings: Queensland Roar - 4 wins, Melbourne Victory 5 - wins, Draws 1.
Previous meeting Melbourne 0, Queensland 2, Telstra Dome, Round 6, September 2008
Past Five Games Queensland Roar: Round 6: Melbourne Victory 0, Queensland Roar 2, Telstra Dome Round 7: Sydney FC 1, Queensland Roar 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 8: Queensland Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 9: Wellington Phoenix 0, Queensland Roar 1, Westpac Stadium Round 10: Newcastle Jets 1, Queensland Roar 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Melbourne: Round 6: Melbourne Victory 0, Queensland Roar 2, Telstra Dome Round 7: Melbourne 4, Perth Glory 0, Telstra Dome Round 8: Newcastle Jets 1, Melbourne Victory 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 9: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 2, Telstra Dome Round 10: Adelaide United 2, Melbourne Victory 3, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis This encounter is crucial to Queensland consolidating its position in the top four and to Melbourne's chances of developing some winning momentum after last round's last-gasp victory over Adelaide.
Such is the importance Roar coach Frank Farina is placing on this match, he's willing to risk further injury to star attacker Charlie Miller to grab these vital points. In fairness to Farina, the physio has given Miller the all clear to play after the Scotsman injured his calf slightly in last week's win over Newcastle. The club also enjoys a two-week FIFA break after this encounter, so if Miller, who's also suffering from a hernia, injures himself again, he should have enough time to recover.
Farina doesn't have a lot of options, though, as his squad has been plundered by the Qantas Young Socceroos' selectors while Reinaldo and misfiring young gun Robbie Kruse are unavailable through injury.
The Roar have been great travellers this season but their home form has left a lot to be desired and Farina will be desperately trying to rectify this ahead of two matches that could shape Queensland's season. A loss or even a draw in this encounter exposes fourth-placed Queensland to the bottom-four clubs, who are all attempting to take the Roar's place. Central Coast looks the club most likely to challenge Queensland but even the Perth Glory, so long the whipping boys of the competition, could over-take the Roar if they're beaten by Melbourne and if Perth wins its next two matches against Newcastle and Queensland respectively.
But, in an extremely tight competition this season, a win for Queensland will take the club to 18 points and give it a chance of finishing the round on top of the Hyundai A-League table, depending on other results going its way.
With top spot therefore up for grabs this week, Victory coach Ernie Merrick will be hoping for an emphatic performance from his side as it looks to follow up a sensational come-from-behind win over Adelaide last week.
The Victory may have lost the highly-skilled Evan Berger through injury and the omitted Matthew Theodore, but their absence has been compensated by the return of star strikers Archie Thompson and Ney Fabiano from suspension, giving the Melbourne side what appears to be the most dangerous forward structure in the competition.
The three-pronged attack of Thompson, Fabiano and Danny Allsopp hasn't featured since round four but a 5-0 smashing of Newcastle in the third round demonstrated its potency. Thompson may be a little under-done after suffering a virus this week but Fabiano in particular will be determined to get his season back on track. The forwards are coming up against the meanest defence in the competition though, one that starts in midfield with Danny Tiatto and goes all the way back to the experienced Craig Moore at centre back and Liam Reddy in goal.
The Victory are still missing key midfielder Carlos Hernandez through injury and his absence could be keenly felt against the wily and experienced Queensland side but such is the importance of this clash, there's every possibility it could still be one of the season's best matches. At home, with their confidence up, Queensland could have the edge against a Victory side looking for just its second win from the last five matches. But Ernie Merrick's full squad is coming together once more making this clash is too tough to call.
Queensland Roar Squad. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 4.Craig MOORE, 5. Josh McCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 13. Chris GROSSMAN, 14. Ben GRIFFIN, 15. Matt McKAY, 18. Danny TIATTO, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 23. Tim SMITS, 24. Matt MUNDY , 25. Adam SAROTA. *two to be omitted.
In. 13. Chris GROSSMAN (promoted), 14. Ben GRIFFIN (promoted). Out. Nil Unavailable. 3. Luke DEVERE (international duty), 9. REINALDO (injured), 12. Tahj MINNIECON (international duty), 16. Hyuk-Su SEO (injured), 17. Mitch NICHOLS (international duty), 19. Isaka CERNAK (international duty), 21. Tommy OAR (international duty), 22. Robbie KRUSE (injured).
Melbourne Victory Squad. 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2.Kevin MUSCAT (Captain), 3.Michael THWAITE, 7.Matthew KEMP, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 14.Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 18.Leigh BROXHAM, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD.
In. Archie THOMPSON (return from suspension), NEY FABIANO (return from suspension). Out. Evan BERGER (hamstring - 3 weeks), Mathew THEODORE (omitted). Unavailable. Carlos HERANDEZ (quad - 2 weeks), Nathan ELASI (international duty - 2 weeks), Sebastian RYALL (international duty - 2 weeks).