Preview: Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart
The final derby of the season is going to be a cracker!
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart Saturday 22nd January 7:00pm
It-s the decider! Etihad Stadium is set to host its first ever Melbourne derby as the rivalry reaches boiling point! Be part of the incredible atmosphere!
It may only be a few months old, but the rivalry between Melbourne-s two Hyundai A-League clubs is proving to be incredibly intense and passionate. It would be silly to expect anything less from the Melbourne public, who live and breathe sport and, if you are looking for an example of support and rivalry at its most exciting and visceral, then you need go no further than Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Red and blue are set to come together in battle at Etihad for the first time and it is sure to be another unbelievable atmosphere from a massive crowd. So get a ticket and be there as this remarkable rivalry continues to unfold.
As derbies go, this one couldn-t have had a better start, as the two Melbourne teams go into their final tussle of the regular season (there is, of course, always the mouth-watering prospect of a cross-city derby in the Grand Finals) with one win apiece. It-s all up for grabs on Saturday, as both clubs are looking to secure bragging rights. And each side will go into the game feeling sure the can pick up the result they desire.
The Hyundai A-League-s newest club need only look back to the very first derby match with their more established rivals for inspiration. In October, ten-man Heart secured a 2-1 win in front of nearly 26,000 fans thanks to goals from John Aloisi and Alex Terra either side of Robbie Kruse-s equaliser.
Two months later, Victory well and truly got their own back on their upstart neighbours with a Robbie Kruse-inspired 3-1 win which swung the bragging pendulum back towards the blue side of the city. So, it all comes down to 90 minutes at Etihad in front of what could be the biggest attendance so far in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season. It would be madness to be anywhere else on Saturday night!
Not only is there all to play for in terms of cross-city rivalry, but, to take a look at the wider picture is to see two teams very much embroiled in the mix-up for a Grand Finals spot. There is little to choose between them as the final weekend of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season draws ever nearer, so there are reasons even greater than rivalry for both sides to be desperate for the points.
Victory especially need a result to restore confidence after a three-match winless streak. Following two straight losses, they were seconds away from three hugely satisfying points at Sydney Football Stadium last Saturday thanks to Danny Allsopp's 51st minute goal, only for substitute striker Juho Makela to steal an injury-time equaliser for the hosts.
Meanwhile, Heart go into this game on the back of a tiring week. After the trip out west to Perth last Saturday night yielded a decent 1-1 draw thanks to Alex Terra-s 71st minute goal, the red and white stripes were in action in midweek too, with an intriguing match-up against Shane Smeltz and Gold Coast United.
Coach John van -t Schip will hope that the busy schedule won-t have had too draining an effect on his players. Like their cross-city rivals, their top six dreams are very much alive. There is no room for fatigue at this vital stage of the season!
Etihad has seen some blockbusting games in its time, but this one is set to be as much of a firecracker as anything that has come before, as Melbourne-s two footballing forces go toe-to-toe. Expect huge drama, expect tension, expect complete and utter commitment on the field and unequalled noise from the stands. There is simply nowhere else to be on Saturday night, so get along to Etihad and add noise and colour to the pressure cooker atmosphere. It-s the big one. Do not miss it!