Heart, Victory set for fireworks

Melbourne Heart's 50th match in the Hyundai A-League will carry the biggest billing of the round this weekend, when they line-up for a derby showdown with cross-city rivals Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Heart's 50th match in the Hyundai A-League will carry the biggest billing of the round this weekend, when they line-up for a derby showdown with cross-city rivals Melbourne Victory.

Midway through their second season, the youngest franchise in the competition is unbeaten from two matches against established neighbours Victory in 2011-12.

Newcomers Heart, coached by Dutchman John van 't Schip, were largely the better team during a 0-0 draw in the first derby of the campaign on October 22.

They went a step further two months later, coming from a goal down to win 3-2, thanks to Matt Thompson's brace and an Alex Terra strike.

The triumph over Victory arrived during a run of seven wins in eight matches that lifted Heart to within two points of league leaders Central Coast Mariners.

Their form has since tailed off, with Heart managing just two draws and suffering four defeats from their last six outings.

Fortunately for van 't Schip and his players, Victory's form in recent weeks has been similarly unimpressive.

They have managed just one win from seven matches, beating Newcastle Jets 2-1 at home on January 7.

Assistant coach Kevin Muscat oversaw that lone success following the sacking of Mehmet Durakovic a day earlier.

Former Northern Ireland international Jim Magilton was handed the reins until the end of the season, but the ex-Ipswich and Queens Park Rangers boss is yet to manage a win from his first three games in charge.

Victory suffered an embarrassing 4-1 loss away to Perth Glory on January 22.

And on Sunday they gave up a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to arch-rivals Sydney.

Magilton will hope the much-needed win arrives when his side meet strugglers Gold Coast United in Launceston on Wednesday.

But regardless of the outcome in Tasmania, both van 't Schip and Magilton know the real bragging rights will be up for grabs at AAMI Park this weekend.

Heart will be without Aziz Behich, Jason Hoffman and Mate Dugandzic for Saturday's clash, while Magilton must make do without Matthew Foschini, Diogo Ferreira and Isaka Cerna - all six are away on Olyroos duty.

Stand-in Heart captain Thompson will also be missing after spraining his knee during a 3-1 loss at Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

Tactical versatility has been a hallmark of Heart under van 't Schip, and the former Netherlands international will have confidence in his squad's ability to cope with the absentees.

Out-of-favour defender Simon Colosimo - linked with a move to Victory this week - could return to the backline.

The arrival of experienced midfielder Paul Reid, formerly of Adelaide United, has added to the competition for places in midfield.

And Dutchman Rutger Worm may be in contention for a starting berth after being named on the bench for the defeat in Wellington.

Regardless of how van 't Schip opts to set-up his team, one thing is certain - the Heart players will be desperate to rediscover that all-conquering form of late 2011, as they seek to shore up their chances of a finals berth.

And what better way to do it than silencing noisy neighbours Victory for a third time this season.