Tonight, the Wanderers take on fellow 2014 Hyundai A-League Grand Finalists Brisbane Roar for a place in the Round of 16 of the Westfield FFA Cup.Historically, the Red & Black hold the slightest of edges with five Wanderers wins, four Brisbane victories and two draws.
The last match between the two sides saw Tony Popovic's men leave Queensland with a 4-1 win, breaking the Roar's six match unbeaten spell against the Wanderers in the process. But given the upheaval of personnel at the Wanderers and arrival of John Aloisi in a managerial capacity, both sides approach this encounter within a state of flux.
Despite the short amount of time Aloisi has spent with his new charges, and with question marks hanging over the ownership of the club, Brisbane have enjoyed a thoroughly encouraging pre-season.
Having maintained the nucleus of the team that finished sixth last A-League season, Brisbane comfortably beat Spanish outfit Villareal 3-0 and went down 2-1 to Liverpool in an encouraging display.
And although the Spaniards in particular appeared to be on the beach for the pre-season friendly (in the days before the game the squad enjoyed several days on the Gold Coast), the scalp of Villareal should prove a valuable source of confidence and belief for Aloisi's team.
It proved to be a step too far against Liverpool, but Brisbane overcame La Liga's 2014/15 sixth-placed finishers with raw energy and enthusiasm to overcome the natural gap in technical quality and experience.
In a nutshell, the Roar players have played with an intensity and desire unparalleled to the efforts of last season and Aloisi's appointment should continue to bring a certain freshness.
"I want to see us play the way we want to play against any team and take the game to the opposition, be proactive and desire to be the team that dictates the play,” declared Aloisi.
Aloisi also appears prepared to give several youngsters a chance to impress tonight with the likes of Mitchell Hore, Abraham Yango and Cameron Crestani all rumoured to be in the mix come tonight.
Whilst it's impossible to draw too many conclusions from both Aloisi's comments and the Roar's pre-season outings, there are several important trends developing within the side that the Wanderers must be wary of.
Brisbane have made minor adjustments from the predominant 4-2-3-1 formation employed under Frans Thijssen last season to a more traditional 4-3-3.
Against superior pre-season opposition, Brisbane have understandably played with a more concentrated tactical discipline with fullback positions more inclined to hold defensive positions rather than overlap.
For this reason, and because of the speed the Roar will likely possess up front in their myriad of forward options, expect the Roar to take a more direct approach tonight.
Brisbane have worked the ball across the pitch well for each of their pre-season goals with Thomas Broich naturally playing a big role. If the German features in the Roar XI tonight, the Wanderers must be wary of Broich's ability to find space in wide-left positions, and drift in-field around the edge of the box.
Devante Clut offers another significant threat to the Wanderers goal, should he be included in the Roar XI. Clut is a similar danger to Broich in that the youngster can use space to his advantage and the Wanderers must not let the 19-year-old roam free on the edge of the box.
Ultimately, the factor of the unknown may be Brisbane's most dangerous threat in this FFA cup encounter, with the shape and substance of Aloisi's team still largely a guessing game.
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