Match preview: Operation "Defend our Titles" begins now
Melbourne City kicks off the defence of their two Isuzu Ute A-League titles on November 19th, hosting the always-challenging Brisbane Roar.
The most recent three meetings of the two teams sees a 2-1 lead for Melbourne City in the category of games won. That said, as this game is still incredibly early in this competitive season, and with both squads very different to last season, little confidence can be drawn from form in the recent meetings between these teams.
What they can gain confidence from are this season's FFA Cup results, with both City and Roar collecting nothing but clean sheets and victories so far.
The home side seems to be heading into Friday's encounter with a clean bill of health. We're yet to hear of any injuries to have come from the cup victory over South Melbourne. Keeping in mind that City will possibly have Socceroos Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren returning to competitive domestic action only adds to the already scary proposition Brisbane will be facing.
The defending champions may well have the Socceroos front three at their disposal this week, but by no means does that mean it's an automatic three points. Brisbane have plenty of quality at their disposal, regardless of how much their squad may have turned over season after season. Missing the finals once over the last decade is a true testament to their ability to maintain such high standards over a lengthy period.
You might be wondering, with the likes of Riku Danzaki, Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Macaulay Gillesphey now gone, who are their danger-men? They are as follows:
Seemingly the man Brisbane will be greatly relying on to fill the voids left by Danzaki and Wenzel-Halls in a goalscoring sense. Lescano arrives off the back of an impressive season in Russia's Football National League, netting eleven goals (including the match-winner in a cup win over Russian Premier League powerhouse Spartak Moscow) and providing one assist from thirty matches.
Since his arrival at Brisbane before the 2019-20 domestic league season, there has been only one occasion where O'Shea played less than 90 minutes in a game. That in itself highlights a level of consistency that deserves applause. O'Shea, it's fair to say, is the heartbeat of the Brisbane engine room. Melbourne City's own midfield trio will have to work damn hard to put this guy off his game.
Finally, their fearless leader, named as Brisbane's captain for the third successive season, and there are no surprises in that decision. Like O'Shea, 90-minute performances have been a given for Aldred since his arrival in the Sunshine State and in almost a quarter of the games that he's represented the club, the Roar have kept clean sheets.
Melbourne City will no doubt have their hands full when the Roar come to town. If our beloved Champions can engage suffocation mode when pressing, as well as fire on all cylinders up front, that lethal combination will go a long way to achieving the goal of all three points.