Preview: Victory v Melbourne Heart

Victory bounced back with an authoritative 3-1 win in December. Kruse scored a brace either side of Gerald Sibon’s goal, while Adrian Leijer sealed it on 54 minutes when he got his foot on a cross.

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart
Date: Saturday January 22
Kick-off: 7:00pm
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 2 from 7:00pm (AEDT)
Live Match Centre:

Played 2: Melbourne Victory 1, Melbourne Heart 1

Previous Meeting
Melbourne Heart 1, Melbourne Victory 3, AAMI Park, December 2010

Why we don’t like ’em
The A-League newest club made a considerable impression with a 2-1 win in the inaugural derby in October. Heart took the early lead through John Aloisi, before Robbie Kruse hit back before half time. Alex Terra settled it with a goal on 56 minutes, but there was plenty of drama with Aziz Behich sent off with 16 minutes to go.

Victory bounced back with an authoritative 3-1 win in December. Kruse scored a brace either side of Gerald Sibon’s goal, while Adrian Leijer sealed it on 54 minutes when he got his foot on a cross.

Past five matches:
Melbourne Victory:
Sydney FC 1, Melbourne Victory 1, SFS
Melbourne Victory 1, Adelaide United 4, AAMI Park
Wellington Phoenix 2, Melbourne Victory 0, Westpac Stadium
Central Coast Mariners 1, Melbourne Victory 2, Bluetongue Stadium
Melbourne Victory 2, Newcastle Jets 1, AAMI Park
Melbourne Heart
Melbourne Heart 1 Gold Coast United 1, AAMI Park
Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Heart 1, nib Stadium
Melbourne Heart 2, North Queensland Fury 0, AAMI Park
Sydney FC 0, Melbourne Heart 1, SFS
Adelaide United 1, Melbourne Heart 2, Hindmarsh Stadium

Decisions for Ernie
The big inclusion for Victory is the return of skipper Kevin Muscat from suspension, while Geoff Kellaway comes back into the squad.

The loss of Evan Berger (hamstring) and Leigh Broxham (calf) robs Ernie of two handy wide players and may result yet again in another formation change. Having played a 4-3-3 against Sydney, Victory may switch to a 3-4-3 with Muscat lining up alongside Rodrigo Vargas and Petar Franjic, who made an impressive debut in the harbour city last weekend. If Ernie sticks with four at the back, look for the promising Matthew Foschini to be given a starting berth in the Derby. Adrian Leijer and Archie Thompson made good plays to be fit for the Derby, but the club has erred on the side of caution.
Mate Dugandzic and Ricardinho are vying for one starting spot alongside Danny Allsopp, who got his first goal in stint two at Victory against Sydney.

Behind Enemy Lines
Well Heart comes into this third Derby showdown in their richest vein of form this season. Our crosstown rivals are unbeaten in five matches and have it all to play for, as they like us, are trying to book a berth in the finals series.

Heart has had a hectic schedule in the build-up to this clash with a trip to Perth last Saturday before a midweek clash against Gold Coast at home.
Coach John van ‘t Schip has had to do a real juggling act with his squad, especially with his band of 30-plus players.

Josip Skoko missed the Gold Coast clash, but is expected to be fit for the Derby, while John Aloisi came off the bench against United. Having played more than 70 minutes against the Gold Coast, Gerald Sibon may well find himself start off the bench.

Rutger Worm also missed the midweek game and is in doubt, while Alex Terra came off with 12 minutes to go against Gold Coast, and is another who might find himself playing a cameo. Simon Colosimo is back to full fitness, while Matt Thompson showed some promise as a left-winger in a 4-3-3 formation on Wednesday night.

Our hero
Carlos Hernandez – The Costa Rican illustrated his true class with a top-draw cross to play in Danny Allsopp for Victory’s goal against Sydney FC last Saturday. Hernandez tends to save his best for the big occasions and will be the man Heart focuses their attentions on stopping. Not only is he a provider, Hernandez has a great eye for goal and loves playing at Etihad Stadium.

Danger Man
Alex Terra – The Brazilian has issues surrounding his durability, but when he’s on song, he can reach soprano heights. You would pay top dollar to see a goal like his bicycle kick effort against Perth and he followed that up with an important goal in the 1-1 draw against Gold Coast. Victory fans won’t need reminder that Terra scored the winner in Heart-s 2-1 success in the inaugural Derby last October.

Why we will win
Because we can’t afford to lose, the ramifications of defeat would be heavily felt. After going without a win in our past three games, Victory is now locked in a real dogfight for the last two available playoff spots with Heart, Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix.

The reality is four doesn’t go into two and a loss here would be doubly disastrous because the Heart would climb above Victory with only a handful of matches remaining in the regular season.

We have had the better preparation with a week between matches, while Heart has played an extra game and travelled to Perth in the same period.

Victory showed a number of encouraging signs in the 1-1 draw with Sydney FC and was stiff not to come away with the three points, as it took the Sky Blues until the dying moments to level proceedings through Juho Makela.

The return of Kevin Muscat was described by Grant Brebner as massive and the Scotsman isn’t one to exaggerate.

Muscat will marshall the Victory defence who even in defeat has proved our backbone this campaign.
At the pointy end, Danny Allsopp got another game under his belt and found some scoring touch in Sydney, while it’s time for Ricardinho to stand up on the big occasion.

With Robbie Kruse and Archie Thompson still out, Victory is relying on the Brazilian to make a substantial contribution.

Victory showed that we learned the lessons of the first Derby loss and the playing group is steeled not to feel that disappointment again this season.

Melbourne Victory: 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: 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
Out: Nil