Brisbane are top of the league after one round (as any Brisbane fan will proudly tell you) and will be hoping to back up a positive start under new coach John Aloisi. Both of Aloisi’s new signings, Jamie MacLaren and Corona shone on debut against Western Sydney and the former Melbourne Heart coach seems content with the way his team played tactically.
Jamie MacLaren has a point to prove this season after playing second fiddle to Andy Keogh at Perth Glory for most of 2014/15. Two goals on debut for Brisbane was the perfect way to send that message. Showing an insatiable hunger for the ball and some zesty pace, MacLaren was a constant thorn in the Wanderers' side. He showed Brendan Hamill a clean set of heels hunting down a lazy back-pass and cheekily looping it over an oncoming Andrew Redmayne for his first goal and wasn't shy to get stuck in to a scrappy 18 yard box for his second. Fans haven’t seen that much confidence from a striker since…you know who.
After a few early lapses in concentration, the other debutante Corona took command of the centre of the park, playing clever passes and creating space for other players to move the ball on the attacking third. Another feature of the Spaniard’s game that could be vital for Brisbane is his delivery from set pieces after two goals were scored as a result of a Corona corner. The midfielder’s lean build and defensive ability may be an issue over the season against bigger midfield packs though.
Thomas Broich looks like he is shaping up to be a dangerous asset again this season, showing he hasn’t lost that silky first touch or the ability to draw copious amounts of fouls. Meanwhile on the other side, Brandon Borello will be looking to get more involved in attack after a fairly quiet night in Parramatta. Depending on Aloisi’s plans, he may also have to fight Dimi Petratos for a spot in the XI with Matt McKay returning from national duties and Steven Lustica quietly industrious in the midfield.
Daniel Bowles started the match like he didn’t want Brisbane to have the ball, throwing possession away carelessly. However, he grew with the game and kept a check on the Western Sydney attack winning 89% of duels and 100% of tackles, outshining his partner Jade North. Corey Brown also appears to have improved from last season at left fullback, while Jack Hingert spent the night practising magic tricks on the right by vanishing completely at times, resulting in Mitch Nichols walking the ball into the box for his first Wanderers goal. Michael Theo was the final piece of the puzzle between the sticks, staking his claim as Brisbane’s number one. Physical and commanding in the box, it’s hard to see Jamie Young getting a look-in this week.
Brisbane face a tough test on Sunday against Central Coast Mariners. Central Coast looked as resurgent as the Roar in round one. Former Adelaide winger Fabio Ferreira was lethal with a brace against Perth and is bound to cause Brisbane more problems than the Wanderer’s attack. Irish striker Roy O'Donovan got off on the right foot with a debut goal and Anthony Caceres pulled the strings in midfield with 53 passes.
The Mariners still don’t look assured in the back, Jacob Poscoliero particularly showing weakness with no successful tackles or take-ons and only winning 1 of 6 duels against the Glory attack. However, the Mariners’ dominance in the midfield and ability to hold possession was the key to their success.
Central Coast shape up to be a much bigger opponent for Brisbane this Sunday, but I predict after last week that the Roar look a little more organised and balanced across the field. Throw into the mix the fact that the Roar's off-field dramas may be winding down with staff payed on time this month and there’s a real buzz around the Suncorp Stadium faithful.
*Score Prediction: Brisbane Roar 2 - 1 Central Coast Mariners