Preview: Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory
Get ready for rivalry round two! Be part of a massive crowd and an electric atmosphere
Melbourne Heart v Melbourne Victory Saturday 11th December 7:00pm
Get ready for rivalry round two! Be part of a massive crowd and an electric atmosphere at AAMI Park, as Victory go all out for revenge.
AAMI Park is the place to be this Saturday as the newest rivalry in the Hyundai A-League intensifies. The rivalry might only be one game old but, holy smoke, it is already as fierce as they come.
When the two Melbourne sides met for the first time ever earlier in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, it was all about landing the first blow. Victory were determined to dish out a lesson to their upstart neighbours, to show that there is only one team in Melbourne and that they wear blue and white.
Backed by a stadium filled with ‘away- fans, a win for Ernie Merrick-s army seemed a certainty against a Heart side who were still unsteady on their feet. So, when the Red and White Stripes caught their more established neighbours napping and turned them over, the rivalry - which had been bubbling under since the inception of the Hyundai A-League-s newest club - was well and truly born.
The defeat in Week 9 - while boosting Heart-s status no end - really hurt Melbourne Victory. Their pride took a massive knock on that night. So much so that they have been counting down the days until they would be able to face their adversaries once again. As they take to the field on Saturday, they will be like dogs chocking on their leads, desperate to get at their opponents.
They may be hell-bent on revenge, but Victory certainly won-t go into the game brimming with confidence, for two reasons. Firstly, they have gone five games without a win and secondly, they have only won once at AAMI Park in seven matches.
However, if they are looking for a morale booster within this rough run of form, then they only need to revisit last week-s thriller against Brisbane Roar. Okay, so they only picked up a point and succumbed to a devastating last-gasp equaliser, but their performance boasted so many positives.
Having fallen 2-0 behind to the ladder leaders in the first-half they showed fantastic character to - remarkably - turn the deficit into a lead within 14 second-half minutes thanks to a header from goal-machine Archie Thompson and a brace from one of the players of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, Robbie Kruse.
Just as Melbourne Victory‘s form has been frustrating, the side taking the home dressing room in this shared stadium are hardly enjoying the best run of results either. Before this Wednesday-s home game against Newcastle Jets, Heart-s defeat last weekend in the Gold Coast epitomised their problems this season.
At Skilled Park, they had the lion-s share of possession and created plenty of chances but, somehow, came away on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat. Their inability to bury their chances and their softness at the back go a long way to explaining why John Van-t Schip-s side aren-t in a higher position in the ladder. They won-t be helped by the fact that striker Alex Terra will miss the match having suffered another setback with his hamstring injury.
It-s a good job then, for both these sides, that the form book is often thrown out of the window in derby clashes like this one. You can analyse current form all you like, you can speculate on team selection and formation, but there is simply no predicting what will happen once the first whistle blows.
These games are completely different entities. They are born of passion, of intensity, of pride and of the sheer determination to get one over your rivals. Defeat is simply unthinkable. Just ask Melbourne Victory.
So, if the game in Week 9 was an intriguing first contact between the two sides, then its outcome has fuelled the fire of the rivalry to the extent that it is set to explode. Will Victory get the revenge they so desperately desire or can Heart, unthinkably, do an amazing double over their neighbours?
Whatever happens, one thing is absolutely certain, there is going to be a huge crowd in attendance at AAMI Park and, while the red and white might be swamped by the blue and white, Heart fans will give as good as they get in terms of making noise.
It-s Heart versus Victory, the sequel. If it-s anything like what came before, it-s going to be a simply magnificent example of Hyundai A-League intensity at its very best. So, secure your ticket today and be part of another bumper crowd as this fledgling rivalry reaches boiling point.