Brisbane's fall from grace continues unabated then, with a shocking two-nil defeat away against a resilient Wellington outfit. This was always going to be a tough fixture, especially with such an arduous travel schedule involved, but no one seriously expected such a definitive scoreline against the visitors. This match was notable in a tactical sense for the slight tweaks both managers made to their respective sides.
Herbert deployed the Nix in their standard 4-4-1-1 shape. Warner's good patch of form meant he continued in place of Paston in goal, Durante and Sigmund were paired in central defence, Muscat was at right fullback, with Griffiths deputising for Lockhead on the opposite flank. Lia and Brown formed the double pivot. Bertos and Ward were at left and right wing, dropping back to form two banks of four. The real tactical interest comes with Herbert swapping his two front-men. Imposing target man Chris Greenacre has lead the Phoenix front-line for every match this season, but on this occasion, he was occupying the attacking midfield berth, with creative right winger Paul Ifill pushed to the No 9 role.
Postecoglou deployed the Oranje in their standard 4-3-3/3-4-3 shape. Theoklitos was between the sticks, Adnan came in for Smith to partner Jurman in central defence, with Stefanutto and Franjic advanced at left and right wingback. Paartalu was the holder in midfield, looking to stay goal side of Greeacre and form a back-three, allowing the fullbacks to motor on. Nichols and Visconte were advanced. Berisha led the line, with Issey back to his preferred left side, and Danning coming back into the XI on the right.
Ifill and Greenacre switch:
As noted above, Herbert switched the berths of his nominal front-two. Usually, it is Ifill playing off the physicality and hold-up play of Greenacre. On this occasion, Greenacre spent the majority of this match behind Ifill. This was a very perceptive gamble by Ricki Herbert. In the last fixture between these two sides, the Nix sat deep, looking for Greenacre to hold-up the ball, to allow midfield runners to join the counter-attack. The problem was, with Wellington defending so deep, midfield runners arrived too late to provide support to the lone striker, and their attacks tended to fall apart as Brisbane reformed their defensive lines.
This time, Herbert was counting on Ifill's speed and trickery to provide a modicum of penetration. Essentially, he was gambling on Ifill putting together a few quality opportunities, as opposed to Greenacre providing a quantity of poor opportunities. It actually worked rather well. Jurman and Adnan had to deal with the immediate threat presented by Ifill, running toward goal, instead of just jockeying Greenacre, with his back to goal. With Bertos, Ward and Greenacre flying forward to join the attack, Franjic, Stefanutto and Paartalu were pushed back and occupied, leaving no free defenders for Brisbane.
Greenacre's physical qualities also helped to defend the midfield area.
It was notable that in the last few matches, Brisbane have lacked their usual degree of penetration, despite monopolising possession almost completely. Instead of implementing a False Nine or target man, Postecoglou sought to increase penetration by exchanging a midfielder for another forward; he swapped patient passer Murdocca for left winger Visconte, who slotted into the midfield trio.
Arguably however, against a side that sit so deep and look to counter-attack, Brisbane would have benefited from increased circulation, to pull apart Wellington's defensive shape.
Theoretically, Wellington would have been the best team for Brisbane to bounce back against. They conceded possession to Brisbane, and with their orthodox 4-4-2 shape, allowed Brisbane to fold out into their 3-4-3.
Fixtures play their part:
A big part of Brisbane's championship season, was how they dealt with the fixture list. Last year, roughly half of the clubs in the league were required to deal with a devilish patch of several games in a short amount of time. Brisbane were the only club to go through this patch of games undefeated. This season, in the same patch, they have experienced 3 defeats and 2 draws.
Jurman mano e mano:
This is the second time this season the young defender has conceded a goal after being isolated one-on-one. The first occasion was in the match against Melbourne Victory, where Archie Thompson similarly wrong-footed Jurman to slot past Theoklitos. Ifill's goal was almost a carbon copy in circumstances.
A-League 2011-12 Match Report Socceroos General Preview Brisbane Heart Internal Season Preview Cream of the Crop Victory Adelaide Sydney Blog Rule Gold Coast Central Coast Commentary Wellington 4-3-1-2 Newcastle fullbacks pressing Perth possession 4-1-2-3 Olyroos substitutions 3-4-3 4-3-3/3-4-3 Player Focus Tips counter-attacking 3-4-3 diamond 4-2-1-3 4-2-3-1 4-4-1-1 Club Focus central winger high line referees