Heart has won three of the seven Melbourne derbies.
In just two-and-a-bit seasons, the Melbourne derby has developed so rapidly that over 42,000 fans packed in to Etihad Stadium to see Heart defeat Victory in the first round. The match was notable for it being the first match in charge for coaches John Aloisi and Ange Postecoglou. It took Heart’s record to three wins in seven derby clashes and Victory hasn’t taken the three points since the second encounter between the teams back in late 2010.
Postecoglou’s men have certainly clicked in to gear following a slow start to the season, but they’ve had a couple of hiccups the past fortnight, with a 4-2 loss in Adelaide followed up by a 1-1 draw with ninth-placed Brisbane at Etihad. Realistically, Victory should have taken full points from the match, but former player Michael Theo was simply brilliant in goal for Roar making a number of crucial saves throughout the match. Not for the first time this campaign, the goal was due to some calamitous defending, and given Victory has conceded 13 goals in five away games, Heart will fancy its chances of breaking down the opposition’s defence. Midfielder Billy Celeski may miss the game with a back problem, which would probably see Leigh Broxham replace him in the starting line-up, while Spase Dileski returns from injury.
The derby win is Heart’s only on the road this season, but the red and whites have been solid at home racking up two wins and two draws from five starts at AAMI Park. They’ve won two of their last three there, thrashing Brisbane 4-1 and Perth 1-0 two weeks back thanks to Golgol Mebrahtu's 89th-minute winner. Aziz Behich, Richard Garcia, Michael Marrone all returned from Socceroo duty in the 2-0 loss to the Mariners last weekend and they’ll all be better for a run in the domestic league. Standout striker Josip Tadic missed the Central Coast match with a back problem, and he will be a huge loss if he doesn't come good for Saturday night.
There has certainly been no lack of fire in the early stages of this rivalry. Three players have been given their marching orders in just seven clashes.
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