With so many changes for both sides in the off-season, this looms as a hard match to read.
Date: Sunday, October 16 Kick-off: 5.00pm AEDT Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Head-to-head Played: 3, Drawn 3
Previous encounter Perth Glory 1, Melbourne Heart 1, nib Stadium, January 2011
History: These two teams met on three occasions last year and all three occasions they shared the points. The first match saw a controversial late penalty awarded Robbie Fowler for a 2-2 result, the second was a relatively tame 0-0 result, while the third match saw Perth take an early lead before a miraculous bicycle kick goal from Alex Terra allowed Heart to snatch a share the points.
Form: Melbourne Victory: L Perth Glory: W
Form Summary: Heart had a fairly extensive pre-season match schedule, playing nine matches and winning seven. The only two matches they didn't win came against Hyundai A-League opposition in Newcastle (1-0 loss) and Wellington (2-2 draw). The opened their campaign away against Newcastle and despite a double from Mate Dugandzic, lost in heartbreaking fashion when Byun sung Hwan's late effort went in off a deflection.
Perth Glory played no less than 12 pre-season games since late June with their defeats in that period coming against Celtic, South African outfit Platinum Stars and then Central Coast Mariners on the cusp of the season. Their home season opener against Adelaide saw them work very hard and get rewarded with a 1-0 win. New recruit Billy Mehmet bobbed up for the winner in the 76th minute.
Match Committee: Melbourne Heart are still without first choice goalkeeper Clint Bolton, meaning rookie Nikola Roganovic will take the gloves again this week. Former skipper Simon Colosimo could be considered after putting in a solid showing in a youth trial game last week. Other than that John van 't Schip shouldn't make too many changes.
Glory are likely to be without Josh Mitchell (ankle), while Adam Hughes (virus) remains unavailable and Victor Sikora (hip) is on the long-term injury list. Former Gold Coast and Victory defender Steve Pantelidis has been on trial for the club and could get a debut in his former home town. Perth had seven debutants last week, all of whom performed well.
Mate Dugandzic: Dugandzic is looking to put behind him his much publicised move across town and scoring goals like he did last week will only help him feel at home at Heart. He is a great talent who will get plenty of opportunities at his new club.
Andrezinho: The 26-year-old Brazilian made an immediate impression with his performance in the opening match of the season, causing plenty of worries for Adelaide with his speed and skill down the left. Could be the surprise star of the new season.
At the end of the day…
With so many changes for both sides in the off-season, this looms as a hard match to read. Both showed plenty of positives in the opening round and they look to be two of the more entertaining teams in it.
Heart will play plenty of good looking football this year and Van 't Schip appears to have his side better drilled in the way he wants to play. Fred has shown his class and importance to the side already and he will be a crucial cog in the coach's plans as well as getting the most out of his fellow Brazilians, Maycon and Terra.
The loss of Bolton is a big one and van 't Schip would rather not have a keeper learning on the job, especially with a relatively inexperienced defence in front of him. The end last week was a little unjust, but the result was not surprising.
Perth looked good in their opener for a side with so many changes and there's no doubt that players like Liam Miller and Billy Mehmet will be very valuable to them this campaign along with Travis Dodd.
On paper, they probably have a better side than Heart, but the task of travelling has proven difficult for them in recent times. They won their first road trip of the season in 2010/11, coincidentally in Melbourne, but then picked up just four points from their final 14 away games. They have lost 31 off their past 44 away games since the start of 2008.
With that in mind, Heart should start slight favourites, but this game looks to be a close run thing and the draw is probably the most likely outcome.