Brisbane Roar: $2.35 with WilliamHill.com.au
Draw: $3.45 with WilliamHill.com.au
Melbourne Victory: $2.80 with WilliamHill.com.au
THE new A-League season kicks off with the title favourite Melbourne Victory heading north for a dance with the Brisbane Roar.
And, despite the odds favouring the dark blue half of Melbourne to be kings of the A-League, the bookies think the fortress at Suncorp with be too big a mountain to climb.
WilliamHill.com.au has the Roar, winners of 12 of their 15 home games last season, as the $2.35 favourites, while Victory, despite a glut of star signings, are at $2.80.
There’s no fear from the punters though, with Sportsbet.com.au reporting most of the money coming for the Victory.
It presents an enthralling match.
A team that is almost invincible on its home deck against a team many think will actually be invincible in season 2016/17.
While the likes of Kosta Barbarises and Gui Finkler have moved on and both Matthieu Delpierre and legend Archie Thompson won’t be there either, the Victory signings look to be more than enough to cover the departures.
Socceroo James Troisi adds pace and bite to the Victory attack and, along with the return of Johnny Warren Medallist Marco Rojas, will form perhaps the most potent attacking line up in A-League history, joining the legendary Besart Berisha in a front three that every club will, frankly, be terrified of.
It’s ridiculous the the likes of Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Mitch Austin could actually come off the bench.
It’s more likely that Rojas slips into midfield and one of those two starts up front, but the options are just ridiculous.
You may as well call captain Carl Valeri a new recruit.
He missed the majority of last season with a career threatening brain condition. It is something that he has put in the rearview mirror and says he is fit and firing to start the season.
He’ll be joined in midfield by the likes of Leigh Broxham and Oliver Bozanic.
The defence, led by Nick Ansell, Jason Geria and Daniel Georgievski, could leave recruit James Donachie on the bench. He was a rock for Brisbane last season.
It all adds up to a well balanced team that should be an attacking force in 2016/17.
But Brisbane will have its own ideas on quelling the Victory and they have a talent-laden side to do it.
Headed up by coach John Aloisi, the Roar will be keen to atone for their 5-4 finals loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers.
And the best way to do that will be to knock over the Victory in the season opener.
Donachie is a loss and the attacking prowess of Henrique and midfield skill of Corona won’t be on call this season.
But Socceroo Brett Holman is a boom signing up north, along with midfield anchor Thomas Kristensen, who could be one of the most underrated recruits of the season.
Jamie Maclaren will again be the spearhead and he is one of the most devastating strikers in the A-League. Their goal scoring starts and finishes with him, with the club lacking some depth in the out and out front man department.
Fortunately, the likes of Socceroo Tommy Oar, Matt McKay Brandon Borrello and legend Thomas Broich are all more than capable of finding the back of the net on their day. Expect plenty of goals to come out of the Roar’s midfield.
This is shaping up to be an enthralling contest between two teams who would both have designs on the A-League title in the early-going.
First goal scorer tips
Brett Holman has perhaps not had the greatest career in Socceroos colours, but it is in European club competition where he has excelled. That grounding should give him the impetus to pick apart the A-League this season and he will form a devastating combination with McLaren. We like the Socceroo to find one on debut to kick his A-League turn off, especially on his home deck. He will want to impress the fans early.
James Troisi ($10 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Speaking of debuts, Troisi is an out and out gun. One of the quickest players going, his skill and pace will be a vital asset for the Victory this season. They do have a lot of weapons and the likes of Berisha always tend to be favourites in this market, but we really like this kid and we think that he is going to have a big impact for the Victory this season. At $10, he looks real value
Match result: Brisbane Roar to win ($2.35 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Match correct score: Brisbane Roar 2-1 ($9 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Total match goals: Over 2.5 ($1.75 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Bonus bet: Both teams to score: Yes ($1.61 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Ask us the same question in about six weeks time and we would probably tip the Victory. They have recruited beautifully and, on paper, possess more talent. But, as with any club that brings in new men, it takes time for them to gel. And Brisbane Roar on their home deck is not an ideal place to be figuring out the finer nuances of team play. It is, for that reason, that we’re tipping the Roar to take this one out. While both teams possess plenty of firepower, we don’t think this will be a complete shootout, although both teams should be able to score, so that might be a nice bet if you are a neutral supporter.