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A-League round 1 preview: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar

Phoenix v Roar

Wellington Phoenix vs Brisbane Roar:

Sunday, October 13

Kickoff: 5pm (NZST), 3pm (AEDT)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Head to head:
Played 17: Brisbane 11, Wellington 3, Draws 5.

Last Encounter:
The previous encounter between the pair saw Brisbane run out victors in a 2-0 win at Suncorp Stadium.

Match number four of the opening round of the A-League will see Brisbane Roar cross the Tasman to take on Wellington Phoenix. Both teams will be looking to start their season with a bang and notch up early points to avoid sleeping behind in the race for the Premiers Plate.

With the opening round of the A-League coinciding with FIFA international fixtures, both teams will be severely affected and far from full strength. At least five starting players for the Nix will be  representing the New Zealand All Whites, including captain Andrew Durante and last seasons golden boot contender Jeremy Brockie.

Meanwhile Brisbane will head into the opening round running having won all four of their A-League preseason matches. They will likely field a close to full strength team with only Matt McKay on international duty. Skipper Matt Smith will make his long awaited return following hip surgery that saw him miss the final three months of the 2012/13 season.

Phoenix Likely Starting XI (4-2-3-1):  Spoonley; Caira,  Boxall, Sigmund, Gulley; Muscat, Lia; Hernandez, Ifill, Boyd; Huysegems.

Roar Likely Starting XI (4-3-3): Theo; Smith, North, Hingert, Stefanutto; Brattan, Franjic, Miller; Yeboah, Borich, Berisha.

The Key Player (Wellington): Jacob Spoonley
With Glen Moss away on All Whites duty and Lewis Italiano ruled out due to injury, Wellington’s Jacob Spoonley is expected to feature between the sticks for the Phoenix this week. Spoonley signed for the Nix on a short-term loan deal and will face the difficult task of stopping one of the league’s most prolific strikers – Besart Berisha.

The Key Player (Brisbane): Matt Smith
After missing a huge chunk of last season following hip surgery, Roar captain Matt Smith will be eager to get back on the pitch and contribute to the team. Smith, who is now fully fit, has played in all of the Roar’s preseason matches and will  be the medium from which Roar build their attacks from the back.

Conclusion:
With Wellington missing multiple key players, it’s hard to see anything but a Brisbane victory in this match. The Roar have had arguably the best preseason of any A-League club and will carry  with them a lot of momentum over the Tasman. On the other hand the Phoenix preseason has been plagued by injury and players coming and going from the squad – hardly the ideal build up to the opening round of the season.
Brisbane will most probably bag all three points against a make-shift Phoenix team filled with youth and inexperience.

Wellington 1 – 3 Brisbane

About Cam Gordon (77 Articles)
<p>Cam Gordon is a New Zealand based educator with a degree in sports studies. A passionate Wellington Phoenix supporter who still plays competitive football, captaining Parklands United in the Canterbury senior men’s grades.</p>
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