Brisbane Roar 2018/19 season preview

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Forever the model of consistency, it’s funny to think Brisbane Roar’s 2017/18 season – a campaign in which they still made the finals – could be considered disappointing. With a serious off-season investment in non-geriatric firepower, can the Roar’s retooled attack push them back to title-contender status?

Last Season
A-League: 6th
Finals: Elimination-Final
FFA Cup: Round of 32
AFC Champions League: Qualifying Playoffs – Preliminary Round 2

They’ll win the league because…

Of their goals. Brisbane boast one of the league’s strongest attacking rotations. A shoe-in to start at centre forward, Adam Taggart will be in the Golden Boot sweepstake all season if he can make himself available to the creativity of Éric Bautheac, Brett Holman and Alex Lopez.

Brisbane’s versatility in the final third could be what really sets them apart. While Taggart, Bautheac, and Holman will likely play their preferred positions game in, game out, manager John Aloisi’s ability to shuffle the pack with multi-positioned players like Stefan Mauk and Henrique could throw opposing teams off-guard.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Of their reliance on an ageing, shallow midfield rotation. The pairing of club legend Matt McKay and Thomas Kristensen struggled to keep pace last season and were frequently overrun by younger, more athletic teams. The technical brilliance of new signing Alex Lopez, who is a lock to start next to either McKay or Kristensen, will hopefully re-exert some control over the Roar’s midfield. Aloisi has few options if injuries or poor form strike even one of his veteran trio though.

A leap from the promising Joe Caletti could provide the answer, with uncertainty on Stefan Mauk’s capability to play a central role. Other options include Jacob Pepper, who is excelling in his new home at centre back,  and Stefan Nigro who is likely entangled as Brisbane’s only reliable left back.

Talk around the water cooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.

Brisbane are the only A-League team to have actually paid a transfer fee this off-season, shelling out €150k to NEC Nijmegen for Stefan Mauk. Whether he is worth such an eye-watering sum remains to be seen. Typical Brisbane, buying their way to the top…

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The off-season brought…

An investment in youth. The Roar’s downfall last season was their age-heavy transfer policy which entrusted key roles to players well past their prime. It appears the lesson has been learnt, with Brisbane bringing in only one player over the age of 30: Danish winger Tobias Mikkelsen. Targeting younger, ready-made players like Taggart, Mauk, and Nigro, as well as a spate of academy graduates, sets the Roar up for the consistent long-term success with which they are synonymous.

Key player

The creative lynchpin of Brisbane’s attack, look for an upgraded supporting cast to help Éric Bautheac kick on from a slightly underwhelming debut season. Fellow attacking star Brett Holman is still valuable, but can only shoulder so much of the burden. Any improvement made by Bautheac will be key to Brisbane’s title contention. His quality and technique remain undeniable, and he’s only a few seasons removed from doing serious damage in Ligue 1 with OGC Nice.

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One to watch

Fresh off a record-breaking National Premier Leagues Queensland season with the Western Pride – which he scored 23 goals in just 11 matches – look for Aloisi to hand game time to 20-year-old attacker Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Blisteringly quick, Wenzel-Halls’ goal-scoring exploits were the story of the NPL QLD season, the Roar beating off interest from multiple A-League clubs for the Ipswich local. Don’t be surprised if he’s featured regularly throughout the season.

Ins and outs

IN: Stefan Mauk (NEC Nijemegen), Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Western Pride), Adam Taggart (Perth Glory), Tobias Mikkelsen (Nordsjaelland), Stefan Nigro (Melbourne Victory), Alex Lopez (Unattached), Bryce Bafford (Promoted), Mirza Muratovic (Promoted), Aaron Reardon (Promoted).

OUT: Mitchell Oxborrow (Broadmeadow), Ivan Franjic (Perth Glory), Corey Gameiro (Central Coast Mariners), Massimo Maccarone (Carrarese), Corey Brown (Melbourne Victory), Michael Theo (Unattached), Jade North (Unattached), Fahid Ben Khalfallah (Retired).

Full squad list

Goalkeepers – 1. WHITE, Brendan, 21. YOUNG, Jamie

Defenders – 3. DE VERE, Luke, 4. BOWLES, Daniel, 6. PAPADOPOULOS, Avraam, 15. NIGRO, Stefan, 19. HINGERT, Jack, 24. O’TOOLE, Connor, 34. REARDON, Aaron

Midfielders – 7. KRISTENSEN, Thomas, 8. PEPPER, Jacob, 13. MAUK, Stefan, 14. LOPEZ, Alex, 17. MCKAY, Matt, 18. CALETTI, Joe, 22. MIKKELSEN, Tobias, 27. SAWYER, Adam, 35. BARNETT, Jay, 44. MARTINEZ, Emilio

Forwards – 2. INGHAM, Dane, 9. TAGGART, Adam, 10. HOLMAN, Brett, 11. BAUTHEAC, Éric, 20. BRADY, Shannon, 23. WENZEL-HALLS, Dylan, 25. AKBARI, Rahmat, 26. D’AGOSTINO, Nicholas, 33. HENRIQUE, 36. LECK, Daniel, 37. BAFFORD, Bryce, 40. MURATOVIC, Mirza

Feature Image Credit: BRFC Photographer Paul Smith

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Ben Paynter
Ben Paynter
Loves Brisbane. Loves a pint. Loves a 'Kevin Muscat Bad Tackle' YouTube compilation.

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