The third Melbourne derby between the Victory and the Heart is almost upon us and what a match it should be.
With both sides needing a win to enhance their finals chances, it should be an attacking extravaganza with both sides capable of scoring goals at will.
A change of venues sees the Victory back at their more-favoured home of Etihad Stadium where they have a great record and what’s more in their favour is it will be the Heart’s first trip to the Docklands venue.
A 4-1 loss to Adelaide United was overcome by a solid 1-1 draw with Sydney FC away from home, which is sure to give the Victory some confidence. Double that with the return from suspension of skipper Kevin Muscat and the established Melbourne outfit are looking in a good position for this.
However, the ‘little brothers’ have not lost in five matches and are playing a nice brand of football which should have got them better results than 1-1 draws in their last two outings with the Perth Glory and Gold Coast United.
Josip Skoko and Rutger Worm are big ‘ins’ for John van ‘t Schip who desperately needs maximum points to push clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets who are just one point behind the Heart but have two games in hand.
The football fans of Melbourne are in for a treat tomorrow night but I sense the big-game experience of the Victory, with the returning Danny Allsopp in goalscoring form, will be enough to get them over the line.
Verdict: Victory 2-1
Melbourne Victory vs. Melbourne Heart
Date: Saturday, 22 January 2011
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 7:00pm
Referee: Chris Beath
Head-to-Head: All matches (played 2): Melbourne Victory wins 1, Melbourne Heart wins 1 (0 draws)
Match fact: Having not lost any of their previous five matches, Melbourne Heart will be aiming to equal a club record six undefeated match streak - which would be their second such streak this season.
Melbourne Victory squad: 1. Michael PETKOVIC (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT, 3. Mate DUGANDZIC, 4. Petar FRANJIC, 7. Matthew KEMP, 8. Grant BREBNER, 9. RICARDINHO, 11. Marvin ANGULO, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 13. Diogo FERREIRA, 14. Billy CELESKI, 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17. Matthew FOSCHINI, 18. Danny ALLSOPP, 20. Sebastian MATTEI (gk), 22. Geoff KELLAWAY, 23. Adrian LEIJER *three to be omitted*
In: Kevin MUSCAT (returns from suspension), Geoff KELLAWAY (promoted).
Out: Leigh BROXHAM (calf), Evan BERGER (hamstring)
Unavailable: Archie THOMPSON (hamstring), Surat SUKHA (calf) Robbie KRUSE (International duty – 2 weeks)
Melbourne Heart squad: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Alex TERRA, 12.Peter ZOIS, 15.John ALOISI, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 21.Kliment TASESKI, 22.Nick KALMAR, 23.Dean HEFFERNAN, 25.Adrian ZAHRA *five to be omitted*
In: Brendan HAMILL (promoted), Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Kliment TASESKI (promoted), Josip SKOKO, Rutger WORM