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  • 24 February 2013
  • • 17:00
  • • AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • Referee: A. Milliner
  • • Attendance: 13752

A-League preview: Melbourne Heart v Sydney FC

A-League preview: Melbourne Heart v Sydney FC


Lucas Neill's decision to join Sydney FC over Melbourne Heart has added spice to this fixture, but the three points are all that matter at AAMI Park on Sunday Indonesia   By GOAL AUSTRALIA



Walker, Vrankovic, Colosimo, Coyne
Thompson, Meeuwis, Garcia
Williams, Babalj, Germano


Ryall, Neill, Ryall, Fabio
Emerton, McFlynn, Antonis, Grant
Griffiths, Del Piero

Their respective positions on the A-League ladder meant this was always going to be a big game, but the whole saga surrounding Lucas Neill has only added further spice to this clash.

The Australia international captain looked set to join John Aloisi's side last weekend only for a last-minute change of - excuse the pun - heart seeing him join the Sky Blues.

The decision infuriated Heart officials and fans and they are sure to let Neill know about it on Sunday.

The Sky Blues' superb week continued on Thursday, when marquee man Alessandro Del Piero announced he would remain with the club for another season.

But both sides will need to put that emotion to one side and focus on the result, with a potential finals berth on the line.

Fifth-placed Sydney, who beat Adelaide 2-1 last Saturday, hold the upper-hand with a three-point buffer on the eighth-placed Heart, who are coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss to Newcastle.

As well as Neill's availability, Sky Blues coach Frank Farina also has the luxury of calling on Joel Griffiths, Brett Emerton and Ali Abbas, who all return from suspension.

Heart are still without striker Josip Tadic, meaning Eli Babalj will continue to lead the line.

New Dutch signing Marcel Meeuwis made his debut off the bench against the Jets but could push for a starting berth, as could captain Fred, who made his return from injury last Friday.

Central defender Patrick Gerhardt will miss through suspension, with David Vrankovic likely to replace him.

Sydney FC have only ever beaten Heart once in eight previous meetings but that was in their last encounter, with late goals to Brett Emerton and Rhyan Grant giving the Sky Blues a 2-1 win.

The events surrounding the lead-up to this match will ensure there is plenty of feeling, but the three points are all that matters.

Sydney FC are in better form than their hosts over the last month but Heart love playing at AAMI and will be desperate not to let the Sky Blues pull too far away from them on the ladder.

The Sky Blues would not be disappointed to come away from Melbourne with a point and a defeat would spell disaster for Heart.

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