Brisbane Roar come into the first game of the 2016/17 season with a full squad to pick from. Head coach, John Aloisi will have some tough choices to make with his team selection, especially in midfield where there is plenty of competition. With Aloisi likely to stick with his preferred 4-3-3 formation heading into the new season, it looks as though Pepper will be the man to miss out in the middle, with Holman likely to be given his debut for the club after joining from Emirates Club in the Middle East. Holman is likely to play at the furthest point forward of the three men in midfield, offering an attacking threat through the middle. His ability to move forward will be facilitated by the deeper midfielders in McKay and Kristensen who are more likely to hold their position. Whilst they will set up in a 4-3-3 the forward movement of Holman will see them looking more like a 4-2-3-1 at times, with three narrow attacking midfielders. Petratos and Broich will play in those attacking roles and whilst they will be employed wide, they are likely to drift inside throughout the game to try and link up with MacLaren, who will play as a lone striker once again this season. The defence will be made up of a flat back four with two attacking full backs in Hingert and Brown. The wide defensive players will offer much of the width within the team as the attacking players try and narrow the pitch in order to maximise the impact of their intelligent passing game. The full backs will look to push on when in possession to widen the pitch again and look to get balls into the box. North is likely to be partnered by Bowles centrally and whilst the two aren’t likely to break their position, both will be a threat from set pieces. Young is likely to start the season as first choice goalkeeper but will be under pressure from Theo, who will be looking to force his way into the side.
Melbourne Victory come into their opening game with a fully fit squad as they look to improve on a disappointing season last year which saw them finish sixth and leave the Finals Series in the first round. Kevin Muscat has remained as head coach and has made plenty of changes to his squad this summer with the hope of finding their way back to the right end of the table. By having his full squad available to him for this game he’ll be able to name his strongest team in the hope of getting the season off to a good start. One constant in the past couple of years has been Berisha, and he’ll be first choice in the attack once again, playing as a lone front man in a 4-2-3-1 formation. His support will come from three quick attacking midfielders with Ben Khalfallah remaining on the left hand side of the midfield after a good season last year. New signing Rojas will come into the team and play on the opposite flank but the two players will swap wings in an effort to find space. Bozanic will play through the centre but will be able to drop into deeper midfield positions in the side are being overrun through the middle. Broxham and Valeri will play the naturally deeper roles with Broxham being the more defensive of the two whilst Valeri will look to link up play through the centre of the pitch. Both full backs are fairly attacking, and whilst they are unlikely to get beyond the wingers, they will provide good options if the wide players are forced to move the ball backwards. Geria and Georgievski also have the benefit of being able to play on either side so are able to swap flanks if they are struggling against certain attacking players. Baró comes into the defence after joining the club in the summer and will play in the centre of the back line alongside Ansell in front of new first choice goalkeeper Thomas.
Brisbane will be hoping to make Suncorp Stadium a fortress once again this year after only losing one game at home this season. A similar result this season will see the club fighting things out at the top of the table once again and this will be aided by holding on to their top players this summer.
Prediction: Brisbane Roar -0.25
Odds: 2.08 Pinnacle