Round 7 : Melbourne Victory vs Brisbane Roar
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Round 7’s blockbuster fixture features arguably the two most successful clubs in the A-League history battling it out in front of an eager Etihad Stadium crowd, who’ve had to wait for 3 rounds since last seeing their side play at home against the Phoenix.
Roar’s poor start to the season has been well documented, but a spirited 4-0 victory may very well be the launchpad for a return to form that can push them back into a more familiar top 6 spot.
Victory topped the table for most of the first 5 rounds, but since their two draws, both decent results considering absentees and travel, they have slipped down to third in the table, but still remain one of three undefeated teams in the league.
Injuries have crippled both teams, particularly in defence, with the Roar consistently struggling to properly fit the right back position, exacerbated by the loss of Jack Hingert to a serious injury. Theo’s wrist injury has contributed to Brisbane’s poor defensive record, conceding 10 goals in their first 4 games.
Victory on the other hand have had to chop and change at the back nearly every week, with Broxham and Milligan having to drop back in to fill positions. First choice centre backs Delpierre and Ansell are still missing and the recently impressive Murnane will also need replacing for this fixture.
Despite all this defensive reshuffling, Victory have kept two clean sheets in their last three games, with ever present Nathan Coe the stable presence, asserting himself in a sweeper-keeper role. His opposite number has been far from convincing so far, and Young will expect to have his hands full against a free scoring Victory at home.
The key battle to deciding the match will come for me through the possession numbers and how each side sets up to use it. Brisbane have had the ball for 62% of their games so far this season, but Melbourne are an enormous threat on the counter attack, with remains of Ange Postecoglou’s tactic of having high wingers being left available when the team doesn’t have possession still visible and could cause Brisbane many problems if they lose the ball, particularly with the good form of Barbarouses and Thompson of recent weeks.
On the other hand, if Brisbane can make the most of their possession and replicated play similar to the way they dismantled Victory at Aami Park last season, a game which saw them win 3-0 without talisman Besart Berisha. The game included a stunning team goal made after a patient set up that included 21 successive passes. If anything like this game be replicated, the Roar could look to take 3 points off Victory in Melbourne for only the 2nd time in over 6 years.
Head To Head: Played 28. Melbourne Victory: 11. Draw : 6. Brisbane: 11.
Last Meeting: 27/4/14 at Suncorp Stadium – Brisbane 1 – 0 Melbourne Victory
Form Guide: Melbourne Victory: DWWDD. Brisbane Roar: LLLLW.
Melbourne Victory: Jason Geria (ankle – test), Nick Ansell (playing youth team), Matthieu Delpierre (foot – indefinite), Dylan Murnane (Illness)
Brisbane Roar: Jean Carlos Solorzano (shoulder – one week), Michael Theo (wrist – four weeks), Adam Sarota (knee – two weeks), George Lambadaridis (knee – two weeks), Jack Hingert (knee – five weeks).
Melbourne Victory (probable): Coe; Galloway, Leijer, Broxham, Georgievski; Milligan, Valeri, Finkler; Thompson, Berisha, Barbarouses.
Brisbane Roar (probable)
Young; Bowles, North, Smith, Stefanutto; Brattan, Lustica, Broich; Borello, Henrique, Petratos.
Eyes On… Besart Berisha
I was thinking of choosing somebody else for this section, but this fixture has Berisha headlines all over it, whether he gets a hat-trick or a red card, it is just the nature of the man to be the centre of attention in such a critical game for both clubs.
Berisha has 5 goals off 6 shots on target so far in the league, a ridiculous strike rate so far that shows the quality of the Albanian in front of goal. While this percentage may very well be unsustainable, you wouldn’t bet against him scoring against the side he helped to two championships.
Berisha has said that he is “really looking forward to [the game]” and when tempted by journalists, neglected in saying whether he’d celebrate if/when he was to score in the game, but somehow I think he’d struggle to contain his fiery passion on Friday night, for better or for worse for the Victory.
Melbourne Victory 3 – 1 Brisbane Roar
Melbourne have an imperious record at home so far this season, winning all 3 games with a goal difference of +8.
Contrasting to Berisha’s unsustainable rate of scoring per shot with 5 goals from 9 shots, Brisbane’s Dimitri Petratos has attempted the most shots (13) so far this season without scoring.
Written by Luke Hall – Twitter: hally_101