Friday, 15 February 2008

2008 VPL season begins - Round 1, Heidelberg United vs South Melbourne

This is the first proper preview for this site. I don't know if I will keep this format/style, but let's worry about that later.

Last time they met:

Round 16 2007 at Olympic Village

Heidelberg United 3 South Melbourne 0

Heidelberg gained confidence and the ascendancy after grabbing two early goals, and were by far the better team. South looked jaded and out of sorts for most of the match, partly because of it being its 3rd game within 8 days after the infamous Melbourne Victory friendly midweek. But the performance was also indicative of the poor 2nd half of the season that lay ahead.


Derbies between the two sides have been harder to pick since South's drop from national league ranks. How much difference a decade makes. Back then, South was almost always assured of taking all the points, no matter how well the Bergers played. In contrast the seven contests between the two sides in the last three seasons have been all over the place, with 2 wins each and 3 draws, with the only score that has come up twice being two scoreless draws, those being the first two games played in 2005.

For whatever it's worth, Heidelberg have been perhaps the form team of the pre-season, including winning the Hellenic Cup against Oakleigh last Saturday night. That win did come at a cost though, with goalkeeper Peter Gavalas involved in a serious collision and suffering injuries which will likely rule him out for six matches. Heidelberg have boosted their squad significantly, with perhaps the most significant being the return of Eric Vassiliadis, in an obvious effort to both atone for missing the finals last season and to make a serious bid at winning the title in their 50th year. Heidelberg looks like one of the teams to beat this season, though the constant on and off field instability which continually plagues the club is never too far away.

South on the other hand have had a very inconsistent pre-season, changing up squad makeups and collecting mixed results accordingly. The defence has been revamped and time should be given for it to settle, but the lack of a tough and no-nonsense central midfielder, so obviously a problem last season, does not seem to have been addressed. Question marks also still hover around the goalkeeping position. With Mitchell Langerak's loan spell ended, it appears Dean Anastasiadis will regain the no. 1 position after suffering a season length knee injury last year, but doubts abound amongst quite a few South supporters not only because of the injury, but also because he will be turning 38 years old this year. Further up the field, South has attracted the likes of Goran Zoric and Hamlet Armenian, and will also be hoping to see a fully fit Fernando De Moraes regain his 2006 form after playing far below par in large part due to injury last season. I'm struggling to see South taking all three points this week, but the combination of being a derby and the end of the mickey mouse stuff means anything can happen.

Final prediction: an energetic but scrappy 1-1 draw.

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