Venue – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Date – Saturday, 25 March 2017
A Saturday night sizzler awaits at Suncorp Stadium as Brisbane Roar look to put a turbulent week behind them, while Melbourne Victory attempt to keep the race for the Premiers Plate alive.
Who will emerge victorious from this top-four clash?
Roar have endured a tough week, losing a last-gasp thriller 2-1 to Adelaide United, following which assistant coach Ross Aloisi and Director of Football Craig Moore were cited by the FFA for indiscretions after the final whistle.
Many have also started to question Brisbane’s Finals Series credentials; they’ve won just one of their last six games to sit on the verge of being knocked out of the top four at the season’s most crucial stage.
Meantime, Victory know anything less than three points will hand Sydney FC the Premiers Plate before Graham Arnold’s Sky Blues even take the field against Perth Glory 24 hours later.
However, Victory are without four key attackers who are away on international duty; Golden Boot leader Besart Berisha is debuting for Kosovo, James Troisi is with the Caltex Socceroos, while Marco Rojas and Jai Ingham have linked up with the All Whites.
* Brisbane have lost just one of their last five games against Melbourne Victory, winning two and drawing two, scoring 10 goals to Victory’s 5.
* Roar have won just one of their last four games at home and will now be looking to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since a brace of losses to Melbourne Victory in April 2015.
* Victory’s defence has been miserly on their travels, conceding just two first-half goals in their last 13 away games.
* Victory have converted 22.3% of their shots (excluding blocked shots) into goals, the most of any team and nine percentage points better than Brisbane.
Roar striker Jamie Maclaren is bang in form, having scored five goals in the last five games to take his season tally to 14, ten more than his closest team-mate.
In fact, Brisbane’s reliance on Maclaren could be seen as a possible weakness, and John Aloisi would love more from his support cast, including Brandon Borrello, Brett Holman and teenager Nicholas D’Agostino who recently scored his first Hyundai A-League goal.
Victory have been shorn of the combined scorers of 75% of their goals this season through international duty.
The 36 goals supplied by Berisha, Rojas and Troisi have been a huge part of Victory’s success and their absence will require others to assume the goal-scoring mantle.
Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Mitch Austin appeal as the most likely threats, while Kevin Muscat may also dip into his club’s youth ranks with teenager attackers Christian Theoharous and Pierce Waring included in an extended squad.
Victory youngster Jai Ingham (and his brother, Roar defender Dane) earned their first call-up to the New Zealand national side for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.
FORM LINES (last five games) Brisbane Roar:
DDLWL Melbourne Victory: DWWLW TEAM SHEETS –
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS, 7.Thomas KRISTENSEN, 8.Jacob PEPPER, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Brett HOLMAN, 13.Jade NORTH (c), 15.ARANA, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Shannon BRADY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 25.Kye ROWLES, 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 29.Joe CALETTI, 43.Tomislav BILIC (gk)
**two to be omitted**
3.Luke DEVERE (returns from injury), 8.Jacob PEPPER (promoted), 22.Thomas BROICH (returns from injury), 25.Kye ROWLES (promoted), 43.Tomislav BILIC (gk) (promoted)
1.Michael THEO (gk) (suspended – 2 matches), 17.Matt MCKAY (knee – 4-6 weeks), 46.Cameron CRESTANI (not selected)
4.Daniel BOWLES (knee – season), 11.Tommy OAR (hamstring – 2 weeks), 24.Connor O’TOOLE (ankle – 3 weeks)
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 31. Christian THEOHAROUS, 32.Cameron MCGILP, 35.Josh HOPE, 40.Matt ACTON (gk), 49.Pierce WARING
**two to be omitted**
19.George HOWARD (promoted), 22.Stefan NIGRO (promoted), 31.Christian THEOHAROUS (promoted), 32.Cameron MCGILP (promoted), 35.Josh HOPE (promoted), 49.Pierce WARING (promoted)
7.Marco ROJAS (international duty), 8.Besart BERISHA (international duty), 10.James TROISI (international duty), 23.Jai INGHAM (international duty)
PREDICTION – Brisbane Roar 2 Melbourne Victory 2