It's hard to see Sydney putting a winning score past Brisbane's back four, and it's equally hard to see Sydney's rearguard dealing with the threats posed by the Roar's arsenal in attack.
Date: Saturday, October 15 Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT, 7.45pm local Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Head-to-head Played 20: Wins: Sydney 5, Brisbane 7, Draws: 8
Previous encounter Brisbane 1, Sydney 0, 12 December 2010
History: Like they do over the rest of the teams in the A-League at the moment, Brisbane Roar have had the upper hand over Sydney in recent contests. The Queenslanders have lost just one out of their past 13 games against the Sky Blues, and the last time they met they did away with their previous hoodoo at the SFS. In December last year, a goal just before the interval from now-departed Kiwi Kosta Barbarouses gave them their first ever win at Moore Park, breaking a winless drought of six years.
Past five matches: Sydney: D Brisbane: W
Summary of form: It was like the Roar never skipped a beat during that marathon off-season, the way they disposed of the Mariners in their first game of the new campaign. They were in control from the outset, passed the ball quickly and took the points courtesy of a 72nd-minute goal from Mitch Nichols, who looks to be growing in confidence every time he pulls on the Brisbane shirt and must be pushing for Qantas Socceroos selection soon. Down at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium for the heavyweight clash between Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton last week and neither side was able to break the deadlock - though Sydney showed enough against Victory to suggest that once Emerton finds his feet and Karol Kisel returns from injury, they will have something to say this season.
Match Committee: Sydney will be without Mark Bridge for the next two matches, after he was suspended by the Match Review Panel for his red card-worthy elbow on Melbourne's Roddy Vargas, meaning Brazilian Bruno Cazarine is first in line to replace him in the starting line-up. Karol Kisel is still sidelined with injury. Meanwhile, it looks like Ange Postecoglou will have the luxury of being able to pick from a largely settled and healthy squad, as if Brisbane needed another advantage.
Brett Emerton - Last week wasn't the start that Sydney's marquee man would have wanted. In the Sky Blues' stalemate with Victory, Emerton had the perfect opportunity to open his account on debut for his new club but uncharacteristically misfired from the penalty spot. Apart from that moment of madness, he was largely unsighted - and that will be something the former Blackburn stalwart would be looking to put right as quickly as possible. If 'Emmo' can get into his groove with some direct, dynamic runs down the wing then Sydney will be a chance against any side, including the Roar.
Issey Nakajima-Farran - With Thomas Broich now moving to the heart of midfield after Matt McKay's transfer to Rangers, recruit Nakajima-Farran has taken up the German's old position on the wing. One game into life in his new orange and black colours and already, the Canadian international has earned rave reviews. Against the Mariners, he was quick, skillful and did more than enough to suggest he will be a key figure in Brisbane's new-look strikeforce this season. But, above all, it looks like he fits seamlessly into Ange Postecoglou's immaculate gameplan, and that should be extremely concerning for opposition teams - and Jamie Coyne.
At the end of the day…
12 months ago and even in the midst of Sydney's worst slump, you could easily make a case for either team taking full points in this one. Back then, the perception was that Brisbane weren't a champion team - they were merely in good form, nothing special, and were bound to drop back with the rest of the pack at any stage. And if any team had the mettle to make that happen, it was the underachieving reigning champions Sydney. But now, after the Roar took out last year's premiership-championship double in the most convincing of fashions, any neutral observer can only look at a match like this in one way.
It's hard to see Sydney putting a winning score past Brisbane's back four, and it's equally hard to see Sydney's rearguard dealing with the threats posed by the Roar's arsenal in attack. The suspension of Mark Bridge is, if anything, a blessing in disguise for the Sky Blues, for it means Bruno Cazarine will surely start and his physical presence will have to be dealt with by Matt Smith and Matthew Jurman. But it will take more than a big Brazilian target man to breach the Roar's goalmouth, especially when Brisbane's confidence will be sky high.
The ease with which Nakajima-Farran, Besart Berisha and Kofi Danning stepped into the shoes of their predecessors was scary. Last week was the first time they've played an A-League match together, which means they are only going to get better. Sydney's back four features three new faces - Coyne, Pascal Bosschaart and Michael Beauchamp - and at the moment, they don't look capable of dealing with the speed, quick ball movement and mobility that Brisbane's attack can boast. The Roar are due for a loss, but we've been saying that before each of their past 29 matches. Expect that undefeated streak to extend by at least one more game.