Melbourne Heart FC will look to enter the Hyundai A-League Finals Series on a high when it faces Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.
In the midst of a five-match unbeaten streak, Heart has emerged as one of the competition’s form teams in recent weeks, producing strong displays in outings against finals bound Brisbane Roar and Wellington Phoenix in particular.
However, impressive performances haven’t always yielded deserved results, with profligate finishing arguably to blame.
The Red and White though do post the Hyundai A-League’s premier emerging attacker in Eli Babalj, who with four goals from his last five matches, is delivering on the hype which surrounded his arrival in the competition last season.
Similar to captain and midfield dynamo Fred, a dominant Babalj correlates strongly with Heart success, emphasising his importance to John van ‘t Schip’s side.
Equally though, the energy and drive generated by wide players Aziz Behich, Michael Marrone and Mate Dugandzic, albeit in an advanced position, in addition to Matt Thompson and Jonatan Germano, cannot be underestimated.
Together, they have proved integral to Heart’s now trademark all-action style, which has proven incredibly effective on the break.
Facing a five-man Adelaide midfield though, Heart may find itself stymied of space to work its neat, intricate triangles through the centre of the park, and may be forced to take a more direct route to goal this evening.
Heart: WWDDDAdelaide: LLLDL
4 January 2012 - Melbourne Heart FC 1 Adelaide United 3 @ AAMI Park4 November 2011 – Adelaide United 1 Melbourne Heart FC 1 @ Hindmarsh Stadium17 December 2010 – Adelaide United 1 Melbourne Heart FC 2 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Player to Watch
Dario Vidosic – While injury has conspired to force the World Cup Socceroo to the sideline on occasion this season, his quality remains undeniable, and he looms as a key figure in tonight’s match-up.
Fact of the Week
Defender Michael Marrone is one of only two outfield players to have featured in every minute of action this season.
Adelaide United squad: 2.Osama Malik, 3., 4.Jon McKain, 5.Daniel Mullen, 6.Cassio (c), 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic, 12.Antony Golec, 13.Ricardo Da Silva, 14.Cameron Watson, 15.Jacob Melling, 20.Mark Birighitti (gk), 21.Francisco Usucar, 22.Iain Fyfe, 25.Evan Kostopoulos, 30.Paul Izzo (gk)In: Ricardo Da Silva (promoted), Iain Fyfe (promoted), Evan Kostopoulos (promoted)Out: Eugene Galekovic, Nigel Boogaard, Zenon Caravella, Bruce Djite, Iain RamsayUnavailable: Fabian Barbiero (suspended – 2 matches), Spase Dilevski (groin – indefinite)
Melbourne Heart FC squad:1. Clint Bolton (GK), 2.Michael Marrone, 3.Brendan Hamill, 4.Simon Colosimo, 5.Fred ©, 6.Matt Thompson, 7.Rutger Worm, 10.Wayne Srhoj, 11.Alex Terra, 13.Jonatan Germano, 16.Aziz Behich, 18.Curtis Good, 19.Eli Babalj, 23.Mate Dugandzic, 30.Sebastian Mattei (GK)In: Rutger Worm (promoted)Out: Jason Hoffman (omitted)Unavailable: Nil