Sydney is in dire need of a win to salvage it's A-League campaign - and should they get it this weekend, it will be their first ever over Melbourne Heart.
Date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 Kick-off: 5pm AEDT Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Head-to-head: Played 6: Wins: Sydney FC 0, Melbourne Heart 2, Draws: 4
Previous encounter: Heart 2-2 Sydney, March 17, 2012
Form: Past five matches: Sydney FC: WLLLL Heart: LLWLD
The Game: New Sydney coach Frank Farina takes charge of his first game and will need to make an immediate impact if the Sky Blues are to get their season off the ground.
Sydney have never beaten the Heart in their short history of the A-League and the last time the Melbourne team visited Allianz Stadium they came away with a thumping 4-0 win. If Farina can't lift his troops than something similar could happen on Sunday given Sydney's horror form which has stretched to four losses in a row after their 2-1 defeat to Adelaide last Friday night.
The new boss will have to do without a couple of his most influential players with Brett Emerton and Terry Antonis both absent on Socceroos duty. Joel Chianese, Paul Reid and Blake Powell are all options to come into the starting side.
The Heart would have been disappointed to throw away an early two-goal lead against the Jets last weekend to eventually draw 3-3. The result means they missed the opportunity to move back into the top six and places huge importance on this clash for both sides. The Heart have also been hit hard by selection in Holger Osieck's Australia squad with in-form Richard Garcia and fullbacks Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich all dropping out.
The big issue: Sydney - There can't be much left after four straight defeats but Farina must find a way to shed the team's fear and get them playing with some confidence. It was clearly visible how much their belief waned as soon as they went behind against Adelaide last week and things won't turn around until they can get some verve and confidence back in their game.
The home fans could have a big role to play in this. The Sydney support have a reputation for getting on the team's back when things aren't going well and that sense of frustration often filters through to the players.
Heart - John Aloisi's side have been hit hard by Socceroos selection. Not only have they lost Garcia, who has found some goal-scoring form of late, but both fullbacks in Marrone and Behich. Having to add two inexperienced fullbacks to an already suspect defence could play into Sydney's hands. Farina should instruct his side to get plenty of width into their game to test out the Heart's fullbacks.
The game breaker: Alessandro Del Piero - He's been the club's one shining light so far this season and if ever Sydney FC needed a big showing from their marquee man it's this weekend. The Italian superstar has looked a frustrated figure in recent weeks with his side's poor form. Quite simply he needs more support and deserves better. If Farina can get Sydney's leaky defence in order, Del Piero and the emerging Yairo Yau have the tools to get the goals which could save the club's season.
Prediction: Sydney 2-1 Heart How often does it happen that when a new coach comes in, the team that was previously struggling to get results manages to conjure up a victory? Farina's appointment is sure to shake things up at the Sky Blues with the former Socceroos boss not afraid to ruffle his players' feathers. If anything, Sydney should be better organised and have a steelier streak with Farina at the helm. The Heart will fancy their chances against the nervy Sydney side but it wouldn't surprise if the home side just edge it.