This has been the most anticipated match on the calendar ever since the draw was announced.
Date: Friday October 8
Kick-off: 7:30pm AEDT
Venue: AAMI Park
Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 1 from 7:30pm.
Radio: 774 ABC (www.abc.net.au/melbourne) and (www.sen.com.au)
Why we don’t like ’em
This has been the most anticipated match on the calendar ever since the draw was announced. This is the first true Hyundai A-League derby and a whole new rivalry will be born when these two teams step out on the field. For Victory, this is about maintaining the ascendancy in the greatest sporting city in the world. For Heart, this is about making a statement and staking a claim for football supremacy in Victoria.
Past five matches:
R8: Brisbane Roar 4, Melbourne Heart 0, Suncorp Stadium
R7: Melbourne Heart 2, Wellington Phoenix 1, AAMI Park
R6: Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Heart 0, Bluetongue Stadium
R5: Melbourne Heart 1, North Queensland Fury 0, AAMI Park
R4: Melbourne Heart 2, Perth Glory 2, AAMI Park
R8: Newcastle Jets 0 Melbourne Victory 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium
R7: North Queensland Fury 0 Melbourne Victory 0, Dairy Farmers Stadium
R6(mw): Melbourne Victory 0 Wellington Phoenix 0, AAMI Park
R6: Melbourne Victory 3, Brisbane Roar 0, AAMI Park
R5: Central Coast Mariners 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Bluetongue Stadium
Decisions for Ernie
Kevin Muscat looks to have overcome the ankle injury which has kept him sidelined for the past three matches and he is set to take his place, while Carlos Hernandez has had a week off to rest his battered ankles and calves. Mate Dugandzic is expected to be available despite his recent poor health in Vietnam while Grant Brebner will be given a fitness test on match day.
Behind Enemy Lines
Heart will be without skipper Simon Colosimo for the biggest match of their short lives, with the defender still suffering the effects of a neck injury. Dean Heffernan misses this match through suspension. Michael Beauchamp is back after his two weeks on the sidelines and is likely to be joined in the centre of defence by Matt Thompson in the absence of Brendan Hamill.
Carlos Hernandez – The Johnny Warren Medallist is yet to open his goalscoring account this season, but you get the feeling that first goal is not too far away. What better time to do that then in the inaugural Melbourne derby! With a full range of striking options available, Ernie Merrick is likely to go for an attacking line-up, which will suit the Costa Rican.
Gerald Sibon – The big Dutchman is key to Heart’s hopes going forward. If he is allowed to sit in behind the strikers and slot easily into the playmaker role, then he will be able to pull the strings up front. The key will be to not give him the space to work his magic on the ball.
Why we will win
While the goals haven-t exactly been flowing for Victory lately, there is a sense that it’s not creating the chances which is the problem, it is finishing them off. With all the attacking players available in this match, Victory can push forward with more confidence, hopefully freeing up Carlos Hernandez in the process.
Freeing up Hernandez to play that typical No.10 role is vital to Victory creating quality chances and given Heart have lost their best defender in Colosimo, this may prove a match of many chances.
It-s hard to know what to expect from the new boys given this is a derby match which means a great deal and the fact that there is a big gap between their best and worst performances. If Heart serves up the quality of performance they did in their last match against Brisbane, then it could be a quite a comfortable evening for the Victory boys, but if they are allowed to boss the style of the game as they did against Wellington the week before, then there will be a lot of running around trying to win the ball back.
The return of Muscat into a defence which has not conceded in four games will be a significant boost and make it extra hard for the Heart to find a way through. Assuming the job continues to be done at that end, then it will only take some composure up front to ensure the inaugural Melbourne team takes the inaugural Melbourne derby.
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)