Tough road test ahead for Brisbane

Brisbane Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu is expecting a tough football and physical battle when his side faces the Central Coast Mariners at Blutongue Stadium on Sunday, but expects his team mates to rise to the challenge.

Brisbane Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu is expecting a tough football and physical battle when his side faces the Central Coast Mariners at Blutongue Stadium on Sunday, but expects his team mates to rise to the challenge.

Brisbane beat the Mariners 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium five weeks ago, thanks to two cracking goals from Thomas Broich and Ivan Franjic, but the Mariners- impressive season means they remain a serious threat to the Roar.

With that in mind, Paartalu guessed Graham Arnold-s men to be keen to gain revenge on the Brisbane club, especially in front of their home supporters.

“I expect the Mariners to be physical, they-re at home so they-ll give everything they-ve got and probably press quite high up the pitch,” the 24-year-old said.

“That will suit us, we can play around that.

“If they sit off, we can just do what we did against North Queensland and battle our way for the 90 minutes and try and get a result.”

There have been recent claims opposition clubs have started to figure out how to stifle Brisbane-s attacking prowess but Paartalu believes Brisbane-s game plan allowed for flexibility in their approach, making them difficult to counter.

“It-s hard to know what teams are going to throw at us now - they-ve tried everything,” he said.

“For us, it-s been positive because we-ve gone on an unbeaten run for 13 games and it-s been positive from that respect.”

Roar coach Ange Postecoglou said he hadn-t yet settled on a starting eleven and would wait until tomorrow before making the final decision.

“We-ve got another session tomorrow, but likely to be the same squad,” he said.

“We might make a couple of changes but everyone has backed up alright, and everyone has put their hand up.

“We just want to see whether we can get the absolute maximum out of them on the weekend especially with the game on Wednesday.”

Eleven points separate the two teams and Brisbane have never tasted defeat at Bluetongue Stadium but Postecoglou guaranteed his side wouldn-t be complacent.

The Brisbane coach said ample time in training had been given to ensuring the squad would be able to cope with any challenge thrown their way.

“We work really hard on making sure we-re not one-dimensional in the way we play,” he said.

“People are saying they-ve figured out the way we play but it was pretty easy to figure out how we play after the first game.

“It-s whether the opposition can stop us from doing that.

“As long as we stick to certain principles, we should be able to counter-act most things.

“That doesn-t mean we-ll win every week mind you, it just means that hopefully our performances, which have been consistent, remain consistent.”

Brisbane can set a new Hyundai A-League record of 14 games unbeaten if they avoid defeat against the Mariners on the Sunday but the dependable Paartalu again stressed Brisbane-s priorities were on a single game at a time.

“It-s massive for the club but the boys haven-t said anything about it,” he said.

“We just go about our business and hopefully this year we set a lot of records but it-s all about the next game for us and you can-t look too far ahead.

“It-s a bit of a cliché, but Sunday-s the biggest game because it-s the next game.”

Central Coast Mariners vs. Brisbane Roar Sunday, 28 November 2010 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Local kick-off: 4:00pm Referee: Ryan Shepheard Assistant referees: Alex Glasgow and Ryan Gallagher Fourth official: Kurt Ams

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1, FS1 HD & on Sky Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au

Central Coast Mariners squad: 2 Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Nik MRDJA, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk). *two to be omitted*

In: Nik MRDJA (promoted), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Pedj BOJIC (hamstring - 3 weeks), Patricio PEREZ (hip - indefinite), Brad PORTER (knee - 9 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)

Brisbane Roar: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 3. Luke DEVERE, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 11. REINALDO, 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 15. Matt McKAY, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK *two to be omitted*

In: Rocky VISCONTE (promoted), Luke BRATTAN (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: HENRIQUE (broken arm - indefinite), Shane STEFANUTTO (hamstring 4-6 weeks)

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 18): Central Coast Mariners wins 3, Brisbane Roar wins 9 (6 draws)

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