Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Sunday 27 April 2014
Kick-off 5.00pm (AEST)
With a win over Sydney FC in the Elimination Final last week, Melbourne Victory have earned a shot at the A-League’s dominant team in 2013/14, the Brisbane Roar.
It matters little now that Brisbane won the Premier’s Plate by a huge margin; if they slip up against the Victory at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, they’ll be dumped straight out of the finals.
By virtue of finishing first on the table, the Roar had a break last week as their opponents were seeing off the Sky Blues.
It remains to be seen whether that rest period, preceded by three league matches which had no real consequence for the Roar (since they were already assured of top spot on the ladder), will have affected their momentum.
Coach Mike Mulvey admitted his side had not been at their best, especially in a 2-0 home loss to the Central Coast Mariners, but said that things would be different once the finals got underway.
Brisbane hold a 2-1 record over their opponents this term. In their most recent outing, in Round 24, the Roar won thanks to a late Luke Brattan strike, which also clinched top spot in the ladder, while back in January it was a more convincing 3-0 win for Mulvey’s side.
An Ange Postecoglou-coached Victory won the first clash of the season 1-0 in October.
One of the major talking points around the game will be how Brisbane’s star striker, Besart Berisha, will handle the task of playing his future employers.
The Victory, of course, have signed the emotional Albanian to their team for next season. For various reasons, Berisha has not played against the Melbourne side at all this season, so they will be dealing with his wiles for the first time in quite some time.
His mindset going into the encounter could have a major impact on the final result.
The Roar will be at full strength for the semi-final, with Dimitri Petratos likely to get the nod on the right-hand side of a 4-2-3-1 ahead of the Brazilian Henrique, who seems to be more effective as an impact sub.
The Victory’s starting 11 is less settled than that of their counterparts, especially considering the impact of Champions League football.
Manager Kevin Muscat could opt for a 4-2-2-2, with Gui Finkler and James Troisi the target men up front, and Archie Thompson and Kosta Barbarouses offering the all-important drive forward from the flanks.
The spotlight will be on Berisha for Brisbane, but the Roar’s most influential contributor is almost always the brilliant Thomas Broich. The German can dictate a match like no other player in the A-League, and if he’s on song, the team in orange will be very hard to beat.
He may not consistently produce his best form, but when he’s firing, Barbarouses can be near unstoppable down the right wing. An ageing Shane Stefanutto has not had his best season for the Roar, and the Kiwi flyer will be looking to exploit that possible weakness in the Brisbane backline.
They have not been in the best of nick in recent weeks, but the Roar have been streets ahead of everyone else in the A-League over the course of the season. Expect them to overwhelm the Victory and ease their way into the Grand Final.
Brisbane Roar 2 – 0 Melbourne Victory
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