Australia: Brisbane roar their way to top of the league
Australia’s Hyundai A-League has been unusually competitive this season, mainly due to the ineptitude of the reigning champions coupled with the inconsistency of the A-League’s most successful team since records began. Brisbane Roar, rather than Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory, are in pole position after the Christmas schedule and with the Play-Offs soon to come Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the situation with just weeks of the regular season remaining.
The big success story so far in the 2010-11 Hyundai A-League is the Brisbane Roar who have had a dramatic change of fortune. Having finished in ninth place out of ten teams in last season’s championship, the team from Australia’s third city have stormed their way to the top of the table having accumulated 48 points in 23 games. Brisbane have achieved this by virtue of having the best attack in the league having scored 43 goals so far, seven more than Adelaide United who lie in second place, and also by letting in a mere 20 goals in return with Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets, both of whom have currently played three fewer games, having a better defensive record (both have conceded 18 goals each). New Zealander Kosta Barbarouses and Costa Rican Jean Carlos Solórzano have bagged nineteen goals between them and make up the league’s most potent duo. This has helped the club as the Roar have only lost one game so far helping them to their eight point lead at the top of the table.
In contrast last season’s champions Sydney FC have gone down to their worst season ever having only won four of their twenty-two games this season and lie bottom of the table with just a point separating them from North Queensland Fury. It took the defending champions until week 11 to record their first win of the season and they have lost their last five games in a row to ensure that the club has a lot to do if they are to make the top six play-offs. Two-time champions Melbourne Victory have also struggled to some degree this season but seem to be finding form at exactly the right time of the season. Having recorded just four wins in the first 17 games the Victory have dropped only two points in their last five games (a 3-3 draw against the league leaders) and the run has helped the A-League’s most successful team to a respectable fifth place, five points ahead of new local rivals Melbourne Heart. The Victory suffered a defeat in the first ever derby match between the two sides and Melbourne Heart (played 23; points 27) can take comfort in that they have a great chance of making it to the post-season but they are being challenged by New Zealand’s sole representatives Wellington Phoenix who lie just a point behind with a game in hand as it stands. Newcastle Jets also have a great chance of the play-offs as they lie a further point behind with three games in hand.
One aspect of the league that has disappointed many this season is the crowds. The average number of people coming through the turnstiles has decreased so far with eight of the league’s eleven teams showing a decline in support with only Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets showing an increase whilst Melbourne Heart have no comparative fugures as they are in their first year in Australia’s top flight. Nonetheless the Play-Offs should provide an opportunity for the attendance figures to rise sharply especially as they look set to be the most open post-season fixtures since the league’s inception in 2005-06 season. Brisbane Roar will make it to the post-season and joining them, as it stands, will be Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners, Gold Coast United and the two Melbourne clubs but there are still a lot of games to be played from now until mid-February when the real action really starts Down Under.