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 five, the focus is on an area which generates the most discussion, the front third.
Wing Contenders- Thomas Broich, Brandon Borrello, Shannon Brady, Henrique Silva, Dimitri Petratos.
A lot is expected of Broich and despite having another solid season, he didn’t quite hit the heights of his wonderful renaissance in 2013-14 where he was far and away the league’s best player in a double winning side. Injury curtailed him in 2014-15, but Brisbane will need the German maestro at his very best this year.
Despite former boss Frans Thijssen tinkering with the idea of dropping Broich back into the midfield three, the German is still best deployed out on the left hand side where, with a free role he can both cut inside and create combinations, or continue a strong partnership with veteran Shane Stefanutto on the left flank.
Games: 22 (5)
One of the few positives to take from an underwhelming 2014-15 was the emergence of the youngster, whose pace and direct style brought a new dimension to a stuttering Brisbane attack.
With Ivan Franjic no longer at the club, and Dimitri Petratos struggling to find his best form. The youngster was given his chance, and he took it with both hands making that right hand side role his own by seasons end. This season should see him maintain his grip on that role in the opening rounds, however there still remains competition for his place.
It’s important to remember that while Brandon is now a fully fledged first team member and someone who will play a lot of football this season, he’s still a young player and has a lot of development left in him so there will likely be times where his form is up and down.
Games: 18 (3)
The hero of Grand Finals past starts this season on the injury list as he recovers from a knee injury which prematurely ended his season, a season in which Henrique arguably played some of the best football he’s ever produced for the Roar.
While the team was struggling around him, Henrique was the shining light in a tumultuous start to the season, racking up 8 goals in the first 10 weeks of the competition before injuries saw his involvement and impact limited from then on.
This year due to his injury he’s likely to be limited to cameo’s off the bench upon his return which is slated for somewhere around Christmas, however his influence in that role is well know due to his Grand Final exploits.
Positionally he seemed to produce his very best football last season cutting inside from the left hand side, which could cause a selection headache for Aloisi given Broich has made that spot his own.
Henrique however has shown his versatility to play anywhere in the front third, and when he gets fit he figures to be a big part of Brisbane’s attacking arsenal.
Games: 2 (4)
The youngest of Brisbane’s four wing options, Brady is yet another graduate of the clubs youth system and should get plenty of opportunities this season.
He made his debut in round five last year away to Newcastle Jets, however it was at the back end of the season when he earned regular time in the first team- firstly off the bench in cameo roles before getting a pair of starts in the games at the end of the season where Brisbane fielded very young sides.
He’s got the versatility to play both sides of the park, and while he’s still a bit raw and could perhaps do with a bit more development in the National Youth League, he’s no doubt a talent, and we should see him at some stage this year.
Striker Contenders- Jamie Maclaren, Jean Carlos Solórzano.
After last years failed attempts to replace former marksman Besart Berisha arrived and left in quick succession, Brisbane have turned to Perth’s Jamie Maclaren to finally fill the void.
Despite acting as an understudy to Perth’s Irish import Andy Keogh, Maclaren still scored an impressive nine goals last season from 20 games, most of which he started on the bench or in roles other than his natural central striker position. It’s that potential that lead to a number of clubs on the eastern seaboard chasing the former Blackburn Rovers attacker.
One thing Brisbane’s strikers lacked last year was pace, and the willingness to run in behind defences, both of which are not a problem for Maclaren who scored many of his goals running at defences on the counter attack.
Another thing which Berisha brought to the side in previous years but went missing in 2014-15 was high intensity defensive effort. Leading the line on the defensive side as well and with his work rate Maclaren should be able to bring some of that back this year.
While he’s predecessor, Andrija Kaluderovic brought an impressive goal return – 7 in 16 games- his all-round game was slower and he didn’t bring those attributes to the table. If pre-season is anything to go by Maclaren will at least match the goal return of the Serbian.
An impressive eight goal performance down on the Gold Coast at Southport against the Gold Coast All-Stars put all on notice that Maclaren is fitting nicely into the Brisbane front line.
Games: 16 (10)
Last year was an odd one for the Costa Rican, who took some time to get going but around the new year he hit his peak form with four goals in five games either side of the Asian Cup break.
That run however was the end of the scoring for Solórzano, who played second fiddle to Andrija Kaluderovic for the remainder of the season, either as a wide left attacker or off the bench.
This year he looks in line to have a similar role as a back-up to Maclaren. When his chance invariably comes he’ll need to show more consistency in front of goal if he’s to earn a new contract, with his current one set to expire at seasons end.
Depth- Abrahim Yango, Nicholas D’Agostino.
Brisbane have always had a string of talented young attackers waiting in the wings right back to season one when David Williams saw a couple of cameos as a teenager, and the 2015-16 Roar is no different.
With young Abrahim Yango, who made his A-League debut against Melbourne Victory in round 26 last year, Brisbane could have unearthed a gem who could go on to provide the X-Factor in the final third.
He followed on from his professional debut by scoring seven goals in as many games for the Young Roar in the National Premier Leagues Queensland, before John Aloisi called upon him to join the first team squad for the pre-season.
Another who was in fine goal scoring form in the first half of the NPL season was young Nicholas D’Agostino. Despite still being a bit raw, scored seven goals in nine games and showed that he has the potential to be a good central striker in the future.
Despite not making his competitive debut, D’Agostino did feature in both the Villarreal and Liverpool games and was apart of the pre-season campaign. Due to a lack of genuine #9 options on the Brisbane books this season, there’s a good chance he will make his debut at some stage of the season.
The other contender for a role in the front third is Dimitri Petratos, who we covered yesterday in the midfield preview. He’s spent time playing both in the midfield and the front third this pre-season so it’s not entirely clear where he fits into the plans, but it was reported over the weekend he’s a chance of starting upfront on Thursday night due to injuries for both Maclaren and Solórzano.
Brisbane are now on their third striker in the post Berisha era but this time they may have finally gotten in right. Kurtishi was a total flop and while Kaluderovic scored goals at a decent rate he was deficient in other areas of the game which are equally as important to the Roar style of play.
Now with Maclaren they have a striker who should be able to score at a reasonably consistent rate, while also working hard for the team both with and without the ball and adding pace to the front line.
The supply lines to him remain largely the same with Broich on one side and Borrello on the other, while the likely mid-season return of Henrique should add an extra dimension to the front third.
The questions over Brisbane’s season rest in the back and middle thirds of the pitch, if those two facets of the team work out, the front third could fire Brisbane to a successful season.