Matchday preview: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar

The red-hot Phoenix host the Roar in front of what should be a bumper home crowd in Wellington. Expect goals and entertainment from Ernie's high-flyers as they meet the reigning A-League champions.

MATCH DETAILS

Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Kick-Off: 5:00 PM (Local) (3:00 PM AEDT)

Squads

Wellington Phoenix: 1.Glen MOSS (GK), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Michael BOXALL, 7.Kenny CUNNINGHAM, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10.Michael McGLINCHEY, 11.Jeremy BROCKIE, 12.Tyler BOYD, 13.Albert RIERA, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA,18.Ben SIGMUND, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c) 

Ins: Nil

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 9. Nathan BURNS (international duty), 21. Roy KRISHNA (hamstring injury).

Brisbane Roar FC: 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA, 5.Corey BROWN, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13.Jade NORTH (c), 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 16.Devante CLUT, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 20. Kofi DANNING, 21.Jamie YOUNG (GK), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 30.Matt ACTON (GK), 34.Shannon BRADY.

***one to be omitted***

Ins: 34. Shannon BRADY (promoted).

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 1.Michael THEO (wrist – 4 weeks), 6.George LAMBADARIDIS (knee – indefinite), 7.Mensur KURTISHI (knee – 1 week), 17.Matt McKAY (international duty), 19.Jack HINGERT (knee – 2 weeks), 22.Thomas BROICH (ankle – 4 weeks).

Hashtag

#WELvBRI

Broadcast coverage

TV Broadcast: Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 3.00pm (AEDT) and Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand)

Radio Broadcast: Radio Sport Wellington 93.7 FM

Referee

Stephen Lucas

Bluffer’s guide

The Phoenix are one of the hottest sides in the A-League at the moment. They’re scoring goals, winning games and impressing fans and media on both sides of the Tasman. Merrick’s men are high on confidence and playing with a self-assurance and panache rarely seen during the life of the Wellington-based football club.

Under Frans Thijssen, the Roar have undergone a mini-revival, losing just one of six games under his stewardship, but they’ll go into the Asian Cup break outside of the finals spots, regardless of the result in Wellington. While their lowly position is largely due to an abysmal start to the campaign, the Roar still look a shadow of the side which dominated the A-League in the past four seasons.

Opta Data stats

These two sides have met 21 times with the results overwhelmingly in Brisbane’s favour.  They’ve won 14 of the previous encounters, while the Phoenix have just two wins, with five games drawn.  Wellington have beaten the Roar just once at Westpac Stadium – the other victory was a 2-0 win in Dunedin and was the only one of the 21 meetings between these two in which Roar haven’t scored. Brisbane have won the last five matches against the Phoenix and six of the last seven.

Route to goal

With Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna missing, there were doubts the Phoenix would have the firepower to replace the 15 goals the duo have combined for in the first 12 matches of the season. Kenny Cunningham and Jeremy Brockie were handed starts against Adelaide United and combined for the first goal before super-sub Tyler Boyd supplied a match-winning brace. Brockie will be desperate to sign off from Wellington with a goal; this is his last game in a Phoenix shirt before he heads to SuperSport in South Africa and he needs one goal to move ahead of Shane Smeltz to third on the list of all-time Phoenix goalscorers.

Henrique has supplied half of Brisbane’s 14 goals this season and remains the main goalscoring threat through his ability to conjure chances when none seem apparent. He’s been joined recently by Jean Carlos Solorzano, who bagged a brace against Central Coast, while Dimitri Petratos will be desperate to open his account after 12 goal-less games this season.

Who’s been in the spotlight this week?

After just 13 minutes of A-League football all season, Boyd came off the bench in Adelaide to score two eye-catching goals the day after his 20th birthday.

Form lines (past five games for each)

Wellington Phoenix: WWWDW

The Phoenix are in the midst of the hottest streak in their history, winning five and drawing one of their last six games.  Their goals against Adelaide also marked the first time they’d ever scored in nine successive A-League matches.

Brisbane Roar: DWLWD

Brisbane have lost just one of their last six games, but have only sporadically featured in the A-League’s top six all season. The high point of their campaign to date came in the 1-0 away win over Adelaide three weekends ago.

Did you know?

This is Wellington Phoenix’s 200th A-League match. They have won 71, drawn 43 and lost 85 of their 199 matches to date.

Prediction

Wellington Phoenix 3 Brisbane Roar 1

Momentum is a powerful force in football and the Phoenix have it in spades. Even without Burns and Krishna, they showed enough in Adelaide on Wednesday to earn favouritism on home soil against the inconsistent Roar.