The Roar Review’s 5th annual season preview series and first as part of Football Central will be a seven part series. It will take an in-depth look at Brisbane Roar ahead of the 2015-16 A-League season. Today, in part four, the focus is on an area where Brisbane have a host of options to choose from- central midfield.
It’s been in the midfield where Brisbane’s skill and energy has overwhelmed teams in years gone by, and while there’s been plenty of flux in other areas of the side this off-season, the midfield is one area where Brisbane have plenty of depth and options to choose from.
The loss of an influential figure like Luke Brattan is obvious, however there’s enough talent in the side to cover, provided Corona settles quickly with the likes of McKay, Lustica and Clut in the engine room.
Contenders- Corona, Matt McKay, Steven Lustica, Dimitri Petratos, Devante Clut, George Lambadaridis.
The club captain was at his consistent best last season on the left side of the midfield trio where his combinations with Broich and an overlapping Stefanutto have been a focal point of the Roar attack in years gone by.
With his national team commitments, McKay will miss round one, in addition to a few games later in the season as the first phase of 2018 World Cup Qualifying wraps up, but if fit he’s an automatic starter and with the loss of Brattan he will be increasingly important this season.
Brisbane’s late recruit arrives having missed the entire pre-season campaign, however he has three appearances in the Spanish second division with Almeria this season to his credit.
It’s tough to get a gauge on what to expect from Brisbane’s Spanish import, however it’s expected that he will slot into the role that Luke Brattan was likely to fill this season. He arrives with great experience and that’s something that Brisbane will have plenty of this season with a number of players over 30.
Games: 15 (10)
Last year saw Lustica play second fiddle to Matt McKay and the tidy midfielder is likely to endure a similar year this time around, with the club captain occupying the left sided central midfield role he’s best suited in.
His style fits perfectly into the Brisbane way of play and his goal threat from last season is something that is an added bonus.
In most other sides Lustica would be a first team regular, however here in Brisbane despite his impressive performances he remains likely to be in and out of the side once again this year.
Despite making plenty of appearances last year it was one to forget for Petratos, who registered a massive 54 shots throughout the season for the return of just one goal.
Positionally he’s moved into the midfield three towards the end of last season with the emergence of Borrello out on the right wing and it’s likely that he’ll play a similar role this year, although he’s had something of a free role at times this pre-season to float into space.
If Brisbane are to have a successful season they’ll need Petratos to bring his potential to the table and begin to have a greater influence on the game. His attacking instincts and goal scoring potential from midfield could provide something that was lacking last year. If his form doesn’t improve, there’s every chance that youngster Devante Clut could take that role as well.
Games: 7 (4)
After a scoring debut in 2012-13, Devante burst onto the scene with a brace on matchday 3 in the Champions League against Suwon, and his solid form earned him a regular starting spot by seasons end.
He’s made a name for himself as a scorer of spectacular goals, but his all round game is impressive in it’s own right.
This pre-season has been an interrupted one for Clut, whose only made the two starts and not had the impact he would of liked to impress new boss John Aloisi. Despite that, this year looms as a breakout year for the youngster as he’s likely to get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. He will most likely feature on the right hand side of the midfield trio, pushing into that #10 area.
Games: 2 (2)
It’s been an up and down off-season for George, who was released at the end of last season, before getting a late reprieve as an injury replacement for Henrique in recent weeks.
Last year George struggled to get into the side as he returned from a long term knee injury, with a couple of appearances in the unfamiliar role of left back.
There’s no doubt George is a talented midfielder, however his long term future here in Brisbane remains in question with Henrique set to return sometime in late November/early December.
Depth- Mitchell Hore.
Depth in this area of the park was looking ok, until the news on Saturday regarding the departure of many of the clubs talented National Youth League players.
In addition to the July departure of Ben Litfin, another youngster, Luke Pavlou has been confirmed to be departing Brisbane despite making his debut off the bench at the end of the last A-League season.
That leaves Mitch Hore as the best of the depth options in the NYL squad for the season. The tall, silky, midfielder is likely to get some game time at some point due to the amount of senior and youth international commitments the midfield group will face this season. Aside from that it’s slim pickings, so hopefully someone else emerges over the course of the NYL season.
Brisbane have two players for every position in the midfield, with Clut, Lustica and Lambadaridis backing up the likely starters of McKay, Petratos and Corona. No doubt Brattan is a massive loss, with his set pieces and excellent passing range difficult to replace, but with a replacement of the experience that Corona has they should be able to maintain their status as one of the leagues premier midfields.