Can Collingwood overcome the week from hell, after their president was accused of racism, to beat Brisbane Lions tonight? Join us here on The Roar from 7.50pm AEST for full commentary and live scores to find out.
Two weeks ago, just about everyone would have thought Collingwood would walk all over Brisbane but two weeks is a long time in football.
These two teams enter tonight heading in opposite directions with Brisbane carrying all the momentum despite being the obvious underdogs.
Suddenly, just two positions on the ladder separate these two teams.
It was not that long ago that we were questioning what round of the season Michael Voss would be sacked as Brisbane’s coach but in two weeks, he has turned his team around.
Toppling Essendon in round eight, the Lions season looked to have taken a turn for the better at last. Last week, they took on Carlton and were highly competitive all night, only to lose by 13 points.
Meanwhile, Collingwood went from their best performance of the season in round eight when they upset Geelong, who were undefeated at the time, to their worst performance against Sydney last week.
To make things worse, it has been a week of hell at Collingwood following the Eddie McGuire gaffe with drama consuming the club.
During the week, Darren Jolly claimed in a column that he was no longer enjoying football and Harry O’Brien took great offence to McGuire’s slip of the tongue.
Beaten comfortably in every area of the game last Friday night, the Magpies will be out to redeem themselves on the national stage.
Brisbane’s chances were critically damaged earlier in the week when their leader Jonathon Brown was hit with a two-match suspension for striking.
Brown played his best game of the season against Essendon and appeared to have finally overcome his niggles to find form.
Without Brown, the Lions will need to find another tall target and that man is likely to be Brent Staker who has looked like the only tall option beyond Brown over the past fortnight.
However, he’ll have a tough task in front of him coming up against All-Australian defender Ben Reid.
The Lions have made a whopping six changes to their side. Including Brown, they have lost three of their best players with injuries to Tom Rockliff and Matthew Leuenburger ruled out.
The Magpies regain their best ball user with Heath Shaw returning after a one match suspension.
He was expected to return last week but the Magpies played it safe when skin fold issues arose. Now to proper fitness, he may have the tough task of containing Dayne Zorko.
Brisbane were boosted by midfield stalwart Simon Black’s return from injury last week. He has the class to match it with Collingwood’s midfield brigade but will need more support than usual.
Weather will influence the result of this game because both team’s forward lines are polar opposites. Collingwood will be sticking to their guns with their talls while Brisbane has no other option than go small with Zorko and Rohan Bewick.
Between these two teams, Brisbane has the momentum and has been playing more consistent football over the past three weeks.
They also have the home ground advantage and playing at the Gabba in winter is extremely difficult for Melbourne-based teams that struggle with Queensland’s humidity.
On paper, Collingwood are fielding the stronger side and will be filthy about their lacklustre performance last week.
The drama which has threatened to derail their season is still fresh in their minds and will influence their team mentality tonight.
The Magpies have not entered a form slump in about four years and will be hell-bent on saving face after last week’s loss while uniting as a team to overcome a week full of drama.
The Lions will struggle without three of their best players and the experience of the Magpies should prevail.
Collingwood to win by 36.