Berisha vs Brisbane

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Leading up to the Melbourne Victory’s nil all draw with Sydney FC was a week focused on the multitude of international call ups and the effect on the squad. With the international break over and a whole host of players coming back, the focus returns to the football and one man in particular.

The Big Blue fallout

Arguably the biggest rivalry in the A-League, the Big Blue was at times an incredibly frustrating game to watch.

The frenetic pace of the first half lead to a scrappy game with neither side able to capitalise on chances in front of goal – both Victory and the Sky Blues had goals disallowed for offside.

The energy of the opening 45 couldn’t be matched in the second half and the game ended in a scoreless draw.

Although both sides were affected by the international break, their attacking quality was never in doubt which made the score line even more perplexing.

With four strikers in the top 10 of the all-time goal scoring list playing in this match, and a total of 249 goals between them, a nil all draw didn’t reflect either side’s potential. Particularly as they are both considered title favourites and are unbeaten this season.

Berisha v Brisbane

One of the biggest points of discussion ahead of the round seven opener is Besart Berisha taking on his former club. The striker won two championships with the Roar and was an integral part of Ange Postecoglou’s and Mike Mulvey’s sides.

Berisha is confident of getting the points against the Roar and thinks his game won’t be hindered: “They [Brisbane] know me very well, but they didn’t really experience playing against me”.

Berisha is entirely focused on playing his part in Muscat’s side once the match begins.

“This game is very important for Melbourne Victory and of course I need to be professional and focus on my team and our game plan”, said Berisha.

Muscat also believes that the striker won’t let the occasion of facing his old side affect him.

“He’ll want to get a good result for his current club”, said Muscat.

The coach was full of praise for the Albanian’s work ethic and “infectious character”, commenting how it positively influenced the entire squad: “he trains very hard, he works very hard and he cares deeply about his team-mates”.

Muscat also spoke highly of his opponents on Friday night: “Anyone who was writing them off, it was premature”.

Next match

Melbourne Victory host Brisbane Roar at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. The Victory have yet to taste defeat this season and have won each of their three home games. The Roar registered their first points of the campaign last week with a convincing 4-0 away win over the struggling Newcastle Jets.

The ins and the outs

Due to the international break Melbourne lost Kosta Barbarouses, Connor Pain, Daniel Georgievski, Scott Galloway, Jason Geria and Mark Milligan. The Victory were also without Matthieu Delpierre, omitted from the squad due to an ongoing injury.

Georgievski, Milligan and Galloway all look set to return straight into the line-up, giving Victory’s defence a vastly different look from that which played against Sydney.

Pain and Barbarouses have only returned to Australia in the last 48 hours and pending fitness tests may feature in the match.

Delpierre appears set to remain out of the team for a while longer, battling a foot complaint on top of the soft tissue injury which originally ruled him out, according to coach Kevin Muscat.

Muscat will also delay Nick Ansell’s return to the side with the defender left out this week. Despite playing well in the National Youth League over the weekend, Muscat wants him 100% fit.

Full squads

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Nathan COE (GK), 5.Mark MILLIGAN (c) 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Andrew NABBOUT, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 24.Scott GALLOWAY, 26.Jordan BROWN

**Two to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Mark MILLIGAN (returns from international duty), 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (returns from international duty), 11.Connor PAIN (returns from international duty), 15.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (returns from international duty), 24.Scott GALLOWAY (returns from international duty)

Outs: 18.Dylan MURNANE (illness), 31.Kieran DOVER (not selected), 33.Christian CAVALLO (not selected)

Unavailable: 2.Jason GERIA (ankle – test), 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE (hamstring – test)

Brisbane Roar FC squad: 2.Matt SMITH (c), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 5.Corey BROWN, 7.Mensur KURTISHI, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 10.HENRIQUE, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Daniel BOWLES, 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 21.Jamie YOUNG (GK), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 30.Matthew ACTON (GK), 34.Shannon BRADY

**One to be omitted**

Ins: 5.Corey BROWN, 15.James DONACHIE, 17.Matt McKAY (all return from international duty)

Outs: 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (shoulder – one week), 16.Devante CLUT (omitted)

Unavailable: Michael THEO (wrist – four weeks), Adam SAROTA (knee – two weeks), George LAMBADARIDIS (knee – two weeks), Jack HINGERT (knee – five weeks)


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Marissa Lordanic

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