Van 't Schip backs his underdogs

Melbourne Heart go into Friday's inaugural derby as underdogs in so many aspects, but coach John van 't Schip has confidence his fledgling team can upset Melbourne Victory in the sold-out match at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Heart go into Friday's inaugural derby as underdogs in so many aspects, but coach John van 't Schip has confidence his fledgling team can upset Melbourne Victory in the sold-out match at AAMI Park.

Already in the shadow of a cross-town rival which has been a perennial Hyundai A-League powerhouse, Heart are trailing Victory on the table, in recent form and even though Friday's clash will be their home game, in the stands.

An optimistic Heart CEO Scott Munn suggested that the crowd split maybe 50-50 on Friday, but the likelihood is that up to 80 percent of the crowd will be supporting the 'visitors' in the first episode in the Hyundai A-League's newest rivalry.

Added to that the fact that Heart will be missing two of their most important players, in Simon Colosimo and Dean Heffernan and you start to wonder if the Victory is a mountain too high to climb for a raw Heart side still finding its feet.

But van 't Schip has a very different take on the situation. He is confident his team, despite all those factors, are prepared and that that fickle nature of derbies can often favour the underdog.

"A derby is a special game. I've played a few in Italy (for Genoa) and it doesn't matter what your ranking on the list is, those games are totally different from every other game. It will be very interesting," he said.

Victory coach Ernie Merrick feels his side has the big-match experience-edge heading into this game having played in nine Hyundai A-League finals in the past four seasons as well as 12 AFC Champions League matches.

But van 't Schip feels that underestimates the experience that individuals in the Heart team possess, in particular John Aloisi and Michael Beauchamp, who have played in World Cups, and Josip Skoko and Gerald Sibon, with a decade of European football under each of their belts.

"I think we have enough experience in the team as well, with the players that we have. They've played big games as well. A little bit of experience in those big games is good, but I'm confident that our boys are up to this level and are ready to go there and get a good result," he said.

But the thing van 't Schip can't refute is the poor form Heart find themselves in heading into the biggest game in the club's short life. The team have had two weeks to reflect on the 4-0 capitulation to Brisbane but the coach feels that time has been put to good use.

"We've done everything that we could have to make sure that we are prepared. Often, I prefer to play as quick as possible after a defeat like that. I would like to play the next day. Now we've had two weeks to prepare for this game," he said.

"We've done that very well. Apart from Simon not playing, we are all in good shape, we have a strong belief. We trained well. We know that we have to put something together after that last game. It wasn't good, we were very disappointed in that."

Whether it's the spur of that disappointment or the excitement of the occasion, Heart will need to find something which can lift them over a very determined Victory outfit, who have made no secret of the importance in which they hold this match.