Monday, 3 October 2011

Brisbane Roar 2011-12 Season Preview

Last season, Ange Postecoglou redefined Australian football. In doing so, he led Brisbane Roar to an impressive Premiership/Championship Double, while going 28-games unbeaten. At one point, the city of Brisbane had a record equal to European Cup holders Barcelona. You'd think, having reached the top, the only way for Brisbane to go would be down. Especially given the A-League's infamous Champions Curse.

Since Postecoglou arrived at Suncorp, he has seen the departures of van Dijk, Reinaldo and now Solorzano; 3 of the best strikers in Australia. And his team have barely skipped a beat. The Roar have also lost talismanic skipper Matt McKay, Luke DeVere, Milan Susak and Kosta Barbarouses. But Postecoglou won his trophies through the dynamic short-passing game and the remarkable sense of team unity he has instilled into the Roar, so PM wouldn't expect these losses to be in any way cataclysmic.

Thomas Broich
Most other A-League sides have been recruiting to combat the Roar's dominance, but only Adelaide and Heart look intent or capable of taking Brisbane on at their own short-passing game. Brisbane have not recruited any strikers to replace Solorzano, so exactly who will be pulling duty as the No 9 will be of interest. PM have suggested using Henrique as a false nine, tentative pre-season reports suggest Broich might also be used up front, but PM believe he is more effective wide on the left. James Meyer is a more likely or compelling candidate. He has an impressive ratio of 4 goals in as many games, all coming on as a sub, and is experiencing a potent spell in front of goal during pre-seaon.

New signings Berisha, Nakajima and Adnan are largely unknown quantities, but given Ange's impressive track record when it comes to foreign signings, the trio should be afforded appropriate respect. Equally fascinating are the arrivals of talented former Sky Blue prospects Danning, a lightning quick winger, and Jurman, a cultured, ball-playing centre back.

Brisbane have also given indications in the media of attempting to increase their ability to maintain a high press, ostensibly to enable them to win the ball back in the opposition’s defensive third. This would only increase the already numerous comparisons to Barcelona, as well as their ability to dominate the league.
Danger Men: Paartalu and Franjic will be of crucial importance to the Roar's championship prospects this year; the former for his control of midfield and the latter for his penetrating runs in support of the attack. Thomas Broich lead the league in assists last year, creating 14 goals, double his closest competitor, while Mitch Nichols had nearly 30 shots on target for only 6 goals. Both will be the most important players in the attacking third. Postecoglou has shown a gift for nurturing young talents; the progress of Danning, a talent that has largely failed to live up to hype, could be crucial to Brisbane's aspirations of retaining the title. Expect his season to unfold in a similar trajectory to Kosta's 2010-11.

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