The free-flowing Brisbane Roar won the premiership in a canter last season, then went on to complete the honours in the grand final.
They may have lost a little momentum heading into the final stages of the season, but the boys in orange were certainly deserving title winners.
Coach Mike Mulvey managed to re-instil the joie de vivre in the Roar’s play, and his all-or-nothing, attacking approach was a kind of version 2.0 of the system Ange Postecoglou introduced.
Brisbane has now won three of the last four titles and should be considered the team to beat once more. The manner in which the club deals with the loss of star striker Besart Berisha will be crucial, but even without the Albanian the champs still have one of the most impressive squads in the A-League.
Last Season: 1st
Daniel Bowles (From Adelaide United)
Mensur Kurtishi (From FK Shkendija)
Adam Sarota (On loan from FC Utrecht)
Jamie Young (From Hayes & Yeading United)
Besart Berisha (Signed with Melbourne Victory)
Diogo Ferreira (Signed with Perth Glory)
Ivan Franjic (Signed with Torpedo Moscow)
Thomas Broich is not only the Roar’s best player, he is arguably the greatest player the A-League has seen in its 10-year existence. The mercurial German may not have the desire to play in one of Europe’s top leagues, but he certainly has the ability. His control of the football is a joy to watch, and his footballing vision is one of the key reasons the Roar are such a strong team; he makes everyone around him play better.
What’s to like
While others have chopped and changed their squads, champions Brisbane have essential the same spine to the team that has been so successful in recent years. Yes, they have lost Berisha, but they have signed another Albanian/Macedonian in Kurtishi who could prove just as good. Even if he doesn’t live up to the standards of ‘Bess’, the Roar have shown in the past they can do just fine with others filling in. Henrique has been in hot form in the pre-season, and Sarota is a savvy signing who should suit the Roar’s style of play.
What’s not to like
Even though Brisbane often seemed to play better when Berisha was missing last season, he is a big-game player who comes up with important goals. It’s not that the rest of the squad doesn’t have the ability to make those important contributions, but they will have to stand up – and do so consistently. Mulvey must be wary of complacency as well. He did well last season to bring in just enough new blood to strengthen the team and keep the hunger there. This time around, there have been less personnel changes. There will also be the distraction of Champions League football, which may well become the Roar’s priority as the season progresses.
Predicted finish: 2nd