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Preview: Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory

BRIvMEL2013/14 A-League Semi Final
Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory
Sunday 27th April, 5:00pm AEST
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Referee: Strebre Delovski.
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports 2/2HD; Delayed coverage on SBS2/HD.

Despite this being the first time these sides have met in a finals match, anticipation is high for this clash to repeat the thrilling nature of the three matches between these sides this season. Brisbane will be riding high after claiming the Premier’s Plate and enjoying a week off in the first week of the finals, while the visitors will be hoping to bring their solid form, both domestically and in Asia, with them on Sunday.

How they got there – Brisbane Roar

Despite a 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners in the final round of the home-and-away season, Brisbane Roar ended ten points clear at the top of the A-League table, earning them automatic progression to the semi final round of the finals series. In doing so, the Roar also ensured this semi-final would be hosted in Brisbane.

How they got there – Melbourne Victory

It took an extra time winner from Gui Finkler for Victory to overcome Sydney FC 2-1 on Friday evening and book their place in the semi-finals. Central Coast’s win over Adelaide United in the other elimination final meant Melbourne would face the highest-ranked team left in the finals series.

The Statistical Breakdown

This Season: Brisbane 2 wins, Melbourne 1 win. Goal difference: Brisbane +3.
At Suncorp Stadium: Brisbane 6 wins, Melbourne 5 wins, 2 draws.
Last Match: Brisbane Roar 1-0 Melbourne Victory (22/03/14 at Suncorp Stadium).
With Strebre Delovski as referee: Brisbane 10 wins, 4 draws, 6 losses; Melbourne 11 wins, 10 draws, 8 losses.
In finals matches: 
This is the first meeting of these sides in an A-League finals match.

Facts and Figures

  • Victory have kept just 5 clean sheets this season (equal least), and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 18 A-League matches.
  • Roar last lost to Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on November 21, 2009 (6 game unbeaten streak since).
  • Victory are unbeaten in their last 4 A-League matches (2 wins, 2 draws).
  • Last time these sides met, Brisbane defeated Victory 1-0 in a tight, thrilling affair (Luke Brattan with the goal in the dying stages).
  • Nathan Coe, if involved, will this week play his 50th A-League game for Melbourne Victory.
  • Victory’s only win over Brisbane this season came in round 3 (1-0), before the departure of Ange Postecoglou.
  • Roar have lost just 1 of their last 11 matches against the Victory (6 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss).

Injury and Suspension List

Brisbane Roar: George Lambadaridis (knee).
Melbourne Victory: Scott Galloway (hamstring), Tom Rogic (groin).

Where Brisbane Roar have the advantage

  • Resting Easy
    By securing first spot on the A-League table, the Roar earned themselves a week off, and they will be fresh and ready for their home game against the Victory on Sunday afternoon. In comparison, Melbourne’s Asian Champions League commitments mean the match again Brisbane will be their fifth in just over two weeks. With injuries to Victory’s Galloway, Murnane, and Leijer on Tuesday evening, the Roar should be exploiting any fatigue – and any weakness – in the visiting side.
  • Frighteningly good squad
    Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha have been at the centre of Brisbane’s success for three seasons, and their talent is undeniable. Add in the distribution of Matt McKay, Ivan Franjic, and Luke Brattan – who scored a stunner against the Victory in their last meeting – as well as the defensive capabilities of Matt Smith and Jade North, and you are looking at arguably the best squad in the league.
  • A successful brand of football
    The Roar have dominated the competition this season, finishing 10 points ahead of Western Sydney with a positive goal difference of 18 – nine more than the next best side. Brisbane continue to play some of the most attractive, attacking football in the A-League, but they are even more formidable across the park under Mike Mulvey.

Where Melbourne Victory have the advantage

  • Attack! Attack! Attack!
    Victory’s strength is in its quick breaks and strong forward movement, and the last fortnight has exemplified their goal scoring capabilities. With Thompson, Finkler, Troisi, and Mark Milligan all getting on the scoresheet in the last two weeks, Melbourne should feel they can convert any opportunities created.
  • Pablo Contreras and Nathan Coe
    Halfway through the season, Contreras and Coe were the last two men Melbourne would be calling upon for match-winning performances. Nevertheless, Coe is currently in impeccable form, while Contreras played his finest game in a Victory shirt against Sydney FC on Friday night. His endeavour forward was crucial in the lead-up to both goals and, with a rest mid-week, the Chilean could be a key factor in this Sunday’s result.
  • ACL Form
    The scheduling and competition of the Asian Champions League is difficult for any A-League side, and Victory felt that first-hand when they failed to progress through the group stage on Tuesday night after two weeks of brutal travel. Still, Melbourne have clearly benefited from the experience, elevating their performances and producing their best form of the season right when it matters in the domestic campaign. If they conjure up another strong display at Brisbane on Sunday, they are every chance of advancing to their fourth A-League Grand Final.

Verdict

It took a Luke Brattan stunner in stoppage time for Brisbane Roar to break down an undermanned Victory the last time these two teams met at Suncorp Stadium, and Melbourne will likely be just as stubborn on Sunday. Still, Brisbane are fresh and ready to exploit any fatigue in the visitors’ bodies, and the return of Berisha makes the hosts an even more potent threat. With the Roar likely to dominate possession and keep the ball moving at a quick pace, I can see Victory finally succumbing to their heavy scheduling. Brisbane Roar 2-0 Melbourne Victory.

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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