Battle Of Melbourne

Heart are no longer easy-beats in the 'Battle of Melbourne' against Victory.

Having awoken from a huge slumber, Melbourne Heart is on a roll and face across-town rival Melbourne Victory , a little leg-weary after a mid-week Asian Champions League match in China. After going 19 matches without a win, how things have changed at Heart. A 3-1 victory over Newcastle on January 17 ended the long run of outs. Since then, Heart is unbeaten in six outings, winning the last four. Their scalps include Brisbane 1-0 , Wellington 5-0 , and Glory and Sydney FC 2-1 .

Victory are backing-up after taking on Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League. In fact, this will be their third outing in a week. Previous to the ACL loss, Kevin Muscat’s men had beaten the competitions big-mover Adelaide 4-3 at home and the Mariners 3-1 on the road. Muscat can at least call on attacking weapon Tom Rogic, who has made a speedy recovery from a sprained ankle. His other attacking aces include Archie Thompson, James Troisi and Gui Finkler.

This derby always has plenty of feeling and the last time these two sides met Heart defender Patrick Kisnorbo was red-carded 20 minutes in, presenting Victory with a 3-1 gift just four days before Christmas. John van’t Schip’s troops were one-time wood-spoon certainties, but are now talking of finals footy. However, they haven’t been successful in the last four derby showdowns. A return by Harry Kewell will ensure an appetising combination with giant Dutch import Orlando Engalaar, which should pose extra problems for Victory’s brittle defensive line.

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