The most anticipated A-League match in history is finally upon us after having to be rescheduled from last weekend.
The drawn AFL Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda forced Football Federation Australia and the A-League to push this fixture back to a free weekend and it has worked a treat with an expected sellout crowd of 30,000 to pack into AAMI Park.
Melbourne Heart have a few problems, mainly in defence, following the withdrawal of captain Simon Colosimo and the absence of Dean Heffernan who is serving the second week of his two-match suspension.
This leaves the Heart a bit short in defence but the return of Michael Beauchamp will make life a lot easier for coach John van ‘t Schip who will be hoping his players can turn around their last-start 4-0 loss to the Brisbane Roar.
In the Victory camp, coach Ernie Merrick is very confident about his side’s chances despite the fact they haven’t scored a goal in three matches.
The fact that they have not conceded in that time is a bonus but it is the attacking end of the pitch where the two-time champions are struggling and they need their strikers to finish the good work from their teammates up-field. Marvin Angulo was impressive in a more advanced role against the Newcastle Jets in Week 8 and I am tipping him to get on the scoresheet tomorrow night.
The return of inspirational skipper Kevin Muscat is another major positive for the Victory who really should be too good and if they can put their goalscoring woes behind them, will record a win as expected.
Verdict: 2-0 Victory
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and FS1 HD and Sky Sport 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN Digital. For ticket availability visit www.ticketek.com.au
Melbourne Heart squad: 1. Clint BOLTON, 2. Michael MARRONE, 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6. Matt THOMPSON, 7. Rutger WORM, 9. Gerald SIBON, 10. Wayne SRHOJ, 11. Alex TERRA, 12. Peter ZOIS (GK), 14. Kamal IBRAHIM, 15. John ALOISI, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 18. Ante TOMIC, 20. Josip SKOKO, 21. Kliment TASESKI, 22. Nick KALMAR, 24. Aziz BEHICH, 25. Adrian ZAHRA *three to be omitted*
In: Michael BEAUCHAMP (returns from suspension), Ante TOMIC (promoted), Kliment TASESKI (promoted), Adrian ZAHRA (new signing)
Out: Simon COLOSIMO (Injury – 1 week), Dean HEFFERNAN (suspension - 1 week)
Unavailable: Kristian SARKIES (Leg – indefinite)
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 5. Surat SUKHA, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Grant BREBNER, 9.RICARDINHO, 11.Marvin ANGULO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER, 20.Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 21. Robbie KRUSE 23. Adrian LEIJER, 27. Geoff KELLAWAY *four to be omitted*
In: Petar FRANJIC (on stand-by), Kevin MUSCAT (returns from injury), Mate DUGANDZIC (returns from national team duty), Diogo FERREIRA (returns from national team duty)
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (knee – indefinite), Matthew KEMP (knee – indefinite)