It's the rampant Reds against the recovering Roar to kick-off Round 10, although the champions' attempted revival took a hit when they lost on the road last time out. Can the A-League's title holders withstand a visit to Coopers Stadium, home to the competition's entertainers-in-chief?
Date: Friday, 12 December 2014
Where : Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Kick-Off: 7:10 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEDT) 9.40PM NZT
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GA LEKOVIC (c) (GK), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 7.Pablo SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Fabio FERREIRA, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 30.John HALL (GK), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS **two to be omitted**
Ins: 24.Bruce KAMAU (promoted), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS (promoted)
Unavailable: 5.Osama MALIK (calf – 3-4 weeks), 6.CASSIO (calf – 1 week), 20.Paul IZZO (GK) (calf – 2-3 weeks), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite)
Brisbane Roar squad: 2.Matthew SMITH (c), 4.Adam SAROTA, 5.Corey BROWN, 7.Mensur KURTISHI, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 30.Matthew ACTON (gk)
Unavailable: 1.Michael THEO (wrist – three weeks), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (groin – five weeks), 6.George LAMBADARIDIS (knee – two weeks), 19.Jack HINGERT (knee – four weeks), 22.Thomas BROICH (ankle – six weeks)
TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), Live Coverage on SBS HD & SBS One from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 891 ABC Adelaide, ABC Local Radio SA, 612 ABC Brisbane, ABC Local Radio Queensland, Grandstand Digital, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app
Referee: Lucien Laverdure
In the first meeting between Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United this season, the Reds served notice of their intent to do far more than merely make up the numbers in 2014-15, beating the reigning champions 2-1 away from home to expose plenty of cracks at Suncorp Stadium.
That result set the mould for a narrative that has remained largely unchanged at both clubs in the subsequent nine rounds, Josep Gombau's side going from strength to strength and finding themselves challenging at the top of the table, as well as booking a place in the inaugural FFA Cup final, which they will contest at home to Perth Glory on Tuesday night.
The Roar meanwhile suffered a dire opening to their title defence, prompting the sacking of coach Mike Mulvey, who has been replaced on an interim basis by Frans Thijssen.
Brisbane have won one, drawn one and lost one under the Dutchman, doing little to suggest they are capable of upsetting the Reds away from home this weekend.
Perhaps their only hope is to catch Adelaide with one eye or more on the Cup final, although Gombau has insisted his side are completely focused on the task in hand.
OPTA DATA STATS
- Adelaide are unbeaten at home in 14 A-League matches (W9), last losing to Brisbane Roar in December last year (1-2).
- The Roar are unbeaten in their last six games away to United (W5), winning the last four in a row (including playoffs).
- The Roar have made their worst ever start to an A-League season, with just seven points from their opening nine games.
ROUTE TO GOAL
Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferreira were the men on target for Adelaide last time out, but there's an abundance of attacking options available to Gombau, with a dizzying array of combinations on the field created between the likes of Carrusca, Ferreira, Awer Mabil, Craig Goodwin, Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez and Bruce Kamau.
What the Roar would give to have one or two of those sharp-shooters in their ranks. Henrique has been carrying Brisbane in front of goal in the absence of Besart Berisha this season, while the loss of Thomas Broich to injury is badly hurting the champions. Brandon Borello, Mensur Kurtishi, Dimitri Petratos and Jean Carlos Solorzano all featured away to Melbourne City last weekend, without any of them really looking threatening.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
On Friday Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith will play his final game for the club where he won three A-League titles after being granted a free transfer to join Thai Premier League side Bangkok Glass. A replacement skipper is yet to be named and while the move will grant Smith a substantial payday late in his career, his absence will be keenly felt by a side who have also lost Berisha, Ivan Franjic and Liam Miller from last term's title-winning squad.
Last time out Adelaide cruised to a 2-0 home win over Western Sydney Wanderers, bouncing back from a 3-2 loss away to Melbourne Victory. That was their only defeat of the season to date, having won their previous three games.
The Roar went down 1-0 away to fellow strugglers Melbourne City last time out. Prior to that they won 1-0 at Western Sydney and drew 1-1 at home to Perth Glory.
DID YOU KNOW?
Only three players have made more than 500 successful passes in the A-League this season, all of them representing Brisbane Roar (Matt Smith, Jade North and Luke Brattan).
Result: Adelaide 3-0 Brisbane Roar
The Reds should have had a hatful against the Wanderers last time out and Gombau will insist on less profligacy in front of goal this weekend.
We don't know where the Roar's goals are going to come from, and they might have more trouble than normal keeping the ball against an Adelaide team that likes to spend plenty of time in possession.
Taking those two key factors into consideration, there's no other option than going for a comfortable home win and, very possibly, a clean sheet.