After seven games, 19 goals, 43 cards and over 215,000 fans, the eighth instalment of the Melbourne derby wraps up the A-League’s pre-Christmas weekend when Melbourne Heart host Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park. We’ll have live coverage from 7.45pm AEDT.
A sell-out crowd is expected and both sides will be up for it, paving the way for what should be a fabulous contest.
Melbourne Victory’s resurgence under manager Ange Postecoglou has stalled in recent weeks, with a heavy loss in Adelaide followed by a thrilling draw against Brisbane last weekend.
Postecoglou’s men will want to get back to winning ways to reaffirm their position in third place, and to pressure the league’s runaway leaders Adelaide and Central Coast.
Melbourne Victory’s ball-playing midfielders will be key: Gui Finkler, Billy Celeski and even Mark Milligan have become pivotal to the Victory’s attack in recent weeks.
The pace of an in-form Marco Rojas and Socceroo Archie Thompson will also be an ever-present threat to Melbourne Heart’s defence.
Despite the Victory’s strong performances so far though, marquee Marcos Flores has been unable to replicate his form from his time at Adelaide.
The derby would be the perfect time for him to hit his straps but even without the Argentinean, Victory remain a formidable proposition in attack.
Melbourne Heart find themselves in eighth place and mired by inconsistency – the last time the red and whites won two games in a row was ten months ago.
The Heart are coming off a deserved 2-0 loss in Gosford, and were lucky to snatch all the points the week before that when Golgol Mebrahtu scored with just minutes left.
Heart’s 2-1 win in the most recent derby was based on coach John Aloisi’s high pressing game, but they have been unable to match this performance since, and Victory are a much better side than they were in week one.
To produce another win Heart, like their opponents, will rely on skilled midfielders along with fast wingers and forwards.
Fred, Matt Thompson and Richard Garcia will all be key in the centre of the park, while Jonatan Germano may join them in midfield for the first time this season if he is deemed fit following his recovery from a calf injury.
Up front Heart have the speedy David Williams as well as veteran Dylan MacAllister, who scored both goals last derby but have scored only one more between them since then.
Croatian Josip Tadic, returning from a spout of back spasms, may be the Heart’s biggest forward threat having scored three times this season.
Tonight’s derby will undoubtedly be a fabulous spectacle, likely to produce drama just like the seven previous editions of this match-up.
The recent discussions about Heart’s long-term future off the pitch will only serve to fire up the club’s players and fans to prove a point come kick-off.
Melbourne Victory are certainly the form side – both on and off the park – but Heart have a history of causing upsets in this fixture and they’ll certainly see no better time to get the three points.
We’ll be covering what promises to be a huge game live from 7.45pm AEDT, join us in the conversation and leave your comments below.