Pride to play for in NYE clash

The ever-increasing rivalry between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory never holds the need for extra incentive to perform but in tomorrow night’s New Year’s Eve blockbuster, pride is on the line for each and every player.

The ever-increasing rivalry between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory never holds the need for extra incentive to perform but in tomorrow night-s New Year-s Eve blockbuster, pride is on the line for each and every player.

Not only have the past two meetings between these sides ended in two action-packed, controversial draws - most recently, a nine-man Victory held the Roar to a 2-2 score line in round six of this campaign - but both sides are each coming off the back of a demoralising derby loss in last weekend-s Hyundai A-League round and are in desperate need of three points.

A heart-breaking 88th minute penalty decision handed Brisbane their fifth straight defeat in Monday-s Boxing Day battle with Ange Postecoglou-s men dropping to third on the competition ladder, while the Victory-s 3-1 defeat at the hands of cross-town rivals Melbourne Heart resorted the two-time champions to sixth.

Roar vice-captain Shane Stefanutto has no doubts each side will be keen to produce a much-improved performance in tomorrow night-s match-up.

“It-s lovely to be playing them on New Year-s Eve, I think it-s a blockbuster game,” he said.

“As a player, I-m really looking forward to it and looking forward to challenging myself against top-quality players.

“On paper, everyone says they-re the best team in the league and looking at it, they-ve got class all over the field.

“I think we as the Brisbane Roar are a good team as well, so I think it-s nice to be able to challenge ourselves against a team like this and on and on an occasion like this, I can-t wait.”

The 31-year-old refused to single out what he thought was the biggest threat to the Brisbane backline, revealing he thought each member of Melbourne-s three-pronged strike force were equally dangerous.

Archie Thompson has a particularly impressive record against the Queenslanders, having scored 10 goals against since the inception of the Hyundai A-League.

“You can-t just concentrate on one player, like Harry [Kewell],” he said.

“If you do that, Archie will have field day and also, Carlos Hernandez is starting to hit form so I really don-t want to concentrate on Harry because they-ve got some weapons in that team.”

The injury cloud over attacking pair Mitch Nichols and Issey Nakajima-Farran and skipper Matt Smith seems to have evaporated with all three players taking full part in this morning-s training session.

However, Henrique (knee), James Meyer (groin) and Thomas Broich (heel) all continue their injury rehabilitation on the sidelines and will not take part.

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory Saturday, 31 December 2011 Venue: Suncorp Stadium Local kick-off: 7:30pm

Referees: Jarred Gillett / Dennis Silk / Brad Hobson / Adam Kersey

Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith, 3. Shane Stefanutto (Capt.), 4. Matt Jurman , 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 14. Matt Mundy, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 24. Nick Fitzgerald. *two to be omitted*

In: 14. Matt Mundy (promoted), 24. Nick Fitzgerald (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: 21. James Meyer (adductor injury - 2 weeks), 22. Thomas Broich (heel injury - 2 weeks), Henrique (knee injury - 2 weeks)

Melbourne Victory squad: 2. Matthew Foschini, 3. Fabio, 4. Petar Franjic, 6. Leigh Broxham, 7. Matthew Kemp, 8. Grant Brebner, 9. Jean Carlos Solorzano, 10. Archie Thompson, 11. Marco Rojas, 12. Rodrigo Vargas, 13. Diogo Ferreira, 14. Billy Celeski, 15. Tom Pondeljak, 16.Carlos Hernandez, 17, Jimmy Jeggo, 18. Danny Allsopp, 19. Isaka Cernak , 20. Lawrence Thomas (GK), 21. Ante Covic (GK), 22. Harry Kewell, 23. Adrian Leijer (c) *six to be omitted*

In: 12. Rodrigo Vargas (promoted), 14. Billy Celeski (returns from suspension) Unavailable: 1.Tando Velaphi (stress fracture)

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 19): Brisbane Roar wins 5, Melbourne Victory wins 10 (4 draws)