A-League preview: Melbourne Heart v Brisbane Roar
Which side are bona fide finals contenders and which side is pretending? All will be revealed at AAMI Park on Sunday
Marrone, Gerhardt, Colosimo, Behich
Garcia, Fred, Thompson, Germano
Franjic, Smith, Jurman, Stefanutto
Nichols, Paartalu, BroichHalloran, Berisha, Henrique
Melbourne Heart's hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park lifted John Aloisi's side off the foot of the table, while all of a sudden back-to-back triumphs for the Brisbane Roar have catapulted them into the top six when all looked doom and gloom heading into Christmas.
After scoring an A-League-record 21 goals last campaign, Roar striker Besart Berisha has not quite been able to replicate the same form.
Admittedly, he has not benefited from quite the same service.
The Albanian notched his sixth goal of the season in a 2-1 win over Wellington on New Year's Day and, if the Roar continue their form revival, he will no doubt provide a headache for Heart's central pairing of Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhart.
Brisbane's attacking trio of Berisha, Ben Halloran and Thomas Broich looked as cohesive as they have all season on Tuesday and will need to be again to lead the side to a third-consecutive victory.
New coach Mike Mulvey has had an immediate impact with two wins from his three games in charge, but will know how quickly all that good work can come unstuck with consecutive away trips.
Mulvey will have to make at least one change to his squad, with central defender James Donachie suspended and likely to be replaced by Matt Jurman.
Many believe Melbourne Heart are a much better team than their ladder position suggests, but they perhaps rely on their key players perhaps more than any other side.
A host of starting XI players returned to face the Jets and they must stay in the side to prop up one of the smaller squads in the league.
Tuesday's 2-1 win snapped a three-match losing run, and another one against the Roar could move Heart up as high as fifth.
Coach John Aloisi has included Steven Gray, Nick Kalmar, Sam Mitchinson, Jeremy Walker and Ersin Kaya in his preliminary squad, but he may resist the urge to change a winning XI - meaning another start in goal for Andrew Redmayne ahead of veteran Clint Bolton.
Heart have a knack of scoring first at AAMI Park and have done so in five of their seven games there so far this season, while they will also fondly remember their 4-1 win last time they met on home turf.
The problem is, they have looked decidedly shaky with their noses out in front, dropping four points at home from winning positions.
The Roar will have generated a great deal of confidence from back-to-back wins and held on well against Melbourne Victory to earn a 1-1 draw at AAMI Park a little over a fortnight ago.
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Top 3 Predictions
Melbourne Heart 1-0 Brisbane Roar
- 41.67 %
Melbourne Heart 2-1 Brisbane Roar
- 16.67 %
Melbourne Heart 3-1 Brisbane Roar
- 8.33 %
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||03/11/2013||Brisbane Roar 3 - Melbourne Heart 0|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||24/03/2013||Brisbane Roar 2 - Melbourne Heart 0|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||06/01/2013||Melbourne Heart 3 - Brisbane Roar 2|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||09/11/2012||Melbourne Heart 4 - Brisbane Roar 1|
|Australia - A-League (AUS1)||02/03/2012||Brisbane Roar 1 - Melbourne Heart 1|
|07/12/2013||Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - Melbourne Heart 1||AUS1|
|01/12/2013||Melbourne Heart 3 - Adelaide United 3||AUS1|
|24/11/2013||Newcastle Jets 3 - Melbourne Heart 1||AUS1|
|15/11/2013||Melbourne Heart 0 - Sydney FC 2||AUS1|
|08/11/2013||Melbourne Heart 0 - Western Sydney Wanderers 1||AUS1|
|6||Patrick Nyema Gerhardt||Defender|
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed