Round 1 Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Brisbane Roar

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After an off-season that has seen the high’s of high profile friendlies, to the lows of players walking out over unpaid commitments and everything in between it’s been a rough 159 days since Adelaide beat Brisbane in week one of the finals. All of that drama is now put to one side however with season 11 set to get underway tonight with an away trip to the Wanderers.

This of course is the second time these two sides have met this season, with Western Sydney winning a tight contest between these two sides in mid-August out in Penrith. Brisbane played reasonably well on the night wand had their chances in that game but couldn’t take them on the night, while the Wanderers chances were more limited but were more clinical with them.

Due to the international break Brisbane will be without their captain Matt McKay, while both sides will be without a number of first team regulars due to injury. Brisbane’s injury list includes the likes of Henrique and DeVere who are long term casualties, while Stefanutto, Solórzano and Donachie are excepted to return in the next month or so. From the Wanderers point of view they will be without Brendan Santalab, Shannon Cole, Mark Bridge and Gol Gol Mebrahtu, who scored the last time the two sides met.

Brisbane Roar: 1) Michael Theo, 5) Corey Brown, 6) Jerome Polenz, 7) Corona, 8) Steven Lustica, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 16) Devante Clut, 19) Jack Hingert, 20) Shannon Brady, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 28) Brandon Borrello, 32) George Lambadaridis.

Western Sydney Wanderers: 1) Dean Bouzanis, 3) Scott Jamieson, 4) Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5) Brendan Hamill, 6) Mitch Nichols, 7) Romeo Castelen, 8) Dimas, 9) Federico Pirovoccari,  10) Dario Vidosic, 12) Scott Neville, 15) Kearny Baccus, 16) Jashua Sotirio, 18) Andreau, 20) Andrew Redmayne, 21) Jacob Pepper, 22) Jonathan Aspropotamitis, 33) Josh Macdonald.

Brisbane’s squad for tonight’s clash is set, with a travelling party of 16 selected and given the injuries sustained by a number of players it’s almost a case of all hands on deck. New signing Javier Hervas has been left in Brisbane having only just arrived and will likely do some training with the youth side over the next day or so.

While the Matchday 16 is settled, the make-up of the starting line-up is far less certain, with Aloisi keeping his cards close to his chest on a number of positional battles, not least of which is the goalkeeping shirt. My best guess on it is that Theo will get the first crack at it now that he’s fully fit again, if not due to his experience then down to the fact he was apart of the season launch on Tuesday.

The central defensive pairing seemingly picks itself with North and Bowles, but there’s doubts on which two full-backs of Polenz, Brown and Hingert will play. Polenz  is likely to play on the right hand side, while the battle between the other two for a spot on the left still an unknown, with Brown perhaps slightly in front as he’s played the last two matches in pre-season.

Further forward in midfield Lustica will in all likelihood deputise for McKay while Corona is a likely starter which leaves a battle between Petratos and Clut for the final spot in the starting side.

The front third is likely to be largely the same as the one which finished last season, with the obvious change of Maclaren coming in for Kaluderovic.

Likely Brisbane XI:
Theo, Polenz, North, Bowles, Brown, Corona, Lustica, Petratos, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes: Young, Hingert, Lambadaridis, Clut, Brady.

Western Sydney is a little more difficult to pick, but if we take their recent FFA Cup quarter final with Perth as a reference point, the majority of their team appears to be set. The absence of Aguilar who is slated to play as a central defender leaves a spot open, which will likely be a battle between youngsters Hamill and Aspropotamitis to deputise.

The other area of interest here is, does Dario Vidosic start having arrived late, and if he does, can Popovic fit both he and Mitch Nichols in the same starting XI. The absence of Mark Bridge will help in this respect, with the likelihood of both joining Romeo Castelen as the three sitting behind Pirovoccari in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

One of the big differences about Western Sydney from last year to this however is the sitting midfielders, with robust ball winners Iacopo La Rocca and Mateo Poljak moved on in favour of deeper lying ball player types in Spaniards Dimas and Andreau. Both were only just settling in to the country when the two sides met in the FFA Cup, so it will be interesting to see the affect they have on the side now they’ve had a month or so to settle in.

Likely Western Sydney XI:
Redmayne, Neville, Aspropotamitis, Topor-Stanley, Jamieson, Andreau, Dimas, Castelen, Nichols, Vidosic, Pirovoccari.
Substitutes: Bouzanis, Hamill, Baccus, Macdonald, Sotirio.
Omitted: Pepper.

Stats and Figures
- Brisbane’s record in Round 1- Played 10. Won 4. Drawn 3. Lost 3.
- Brisbane’s record away from home in Round 1- Played 4. Won 1. Drawn 2. Lost 1.
- If Corona gets on the park, he will become the 112th player to play for Brisbane Roar in a competitive game.

This season against Western Sydney Wanderers
FFA Cup Round of 32
Western Sydney Wanderers (1) Mebrahtu 69’
Brisbane Roar (0)

All-time record against Western Sydney Wanderers   dfds

Scott Owen

Scott Owen is a writer for website "The Roar Review" an unofficial blog site that mainly focuses on Brisbane Roar.

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