The veteran Italian dazzled and duped Melbourne Victory on Saturday, giving fullback Jason Geria a torrid time and drawing countless fouls from his opponents. The 39-year-old's performance has divided supporters right down the middle. Is he too smart for opposing players, who need to show more caution when challenging the World Cup-winning marquee? Or does the ex-Juventus man go to ground too easily, and receive preferential treatment from the A-League's star-struck referees? It will be up to Melbourne Heart to avoid being lured in to the same trap as their cross-city rivals last week.
2. The Heart must learn to live without Harry Kewell
That might seem like a strange comment on the surface of it, given the 35-year-old has made just one appearance so far this season. But for the other four rounds all the talk has been about who is missing from Heart's starting line-up, not who is in it. And on the field it has been a case of make do and mend, with John Aloisi trying - largely without success - to find an alternative for the absent playmaker. At times it has worked, most noticeably in a dominant first half away to Brisbane Roar. But every indication so far has been that the fragile Kewell cannot be relied upon in the remaining 22 rounds of the regular season. If he's fit and in the team, good. If he's not, Heart need an effective Plan B.
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3. Time for Sydney to shut up shop
Playing with 10 men for 60 minutes of the 'Big Blue' at home to Victory, Sydney looked as solid defensively as they have at any point with a full complement of players this season, especially in a dogged rearguard action during the second half. Frank Farina needs that kind of positional discipline and concentration from his backline every week. The likely return to the starting XI of Pedj Bojic should offer more penetration from right-back, but his inclusion must not come at the expense of defensive solidity. If Sydney can't keep out goal-shy Heart, what hope do they have of mustering clean sheets against the competition's form teams?
4. Wanted: A goalmachine in red and white stripes
Michael Mifsud was supposed to be the answer to Heart's prayers for a proven finisher and the Maltese veteran could yet deliver on those expectations. But he can't carry the burden alone and there are plenty of other players who need to pack their shooting boots heading to AAMI Park this week. David Williams netted twice against Central Coast and that should be an example to others, with Mate Dugandzic, Iain Ramsay and Golgol Mebrahtu all obliged to do more in the final third. The buck doesn't rest with the forwards though. Centre-backs Robbie Wielaert, David Vrankovic, Patrick Gerhardt and Patrick Kisnorbo need to threaten from set pieces, while any fullback worth his salt (no, not you Jason Hoffman), has a duty to get forward and cause problems.
5. How much credit does John Aloisi have in the bank?
Frank Farina was the man coaching for his future last week, and he bought himself time with three points following a helter-skelter encounter with the Victory. The knives haven't quite been sharpened for Aloisi yet, but they've been taken out of the kitchen draw in readiness. Expectations have always been low at the runt of the A-League litter, which means the ex-Socceroo has avoided the kind of intense scrutiny which goes with the territory at the likes of Sydney and Victory. But defeat this week coupled with another limp performance will mean even the Heart's apologists in the main stream media will be obliged to turn up the heat.