Analysis: Midfield battle key

The battle in midfield looms as the most influential factor in determining whether Melbourne Heart continue the resurgence of the past two weeks this Friday night against Sydney FC at AAMI Park.

The battle in midfield looms as the most influential factor in determining whether Melbourne Heart continue the resurgence of the past two weeks this Friday night against Sydney FC at AAMI Park.

Admittedly, it is not unusual for the midfield to be a football match-s most significant component, yet Melbourne Heart come up against a Sydney FC side who dominated this aspect of the game last week against Melbourne Victory.

Playing against a midfield high on confidence and rhythm can be dangerous, yet for Melbourne Heart it should be an exciting prospect given the context of a disrupted midfield this year due to injury to key players.

John van-t Schip finally has a first choice midfield playing with some continuity and familiarity.

Harry Kewell has now enjoyed consistent game time with the ever-present Massimo Murdocca by his side. Add to this the encouraging return from injury of marquee Dutch international Orlando Engelaar, who now has a substitutes appearance and a starting performance under his belt.

The way in which Heart achieved their breakthrough win against Newcastle Jets was in part owing to van-t Schip reverting the teams structure do a diamond in the midfield, with two strikers ahead.

Mate Dugandzic-s high work rate and positional flexibility, especially against the Jets, has allowed Heart to use him in the team-s defensive structure without the ball, which for the past two weeks has helped the side to no ends.

Journalist Kate Cohen goes into this change in structure and work from Dugandzic more in depth in an article in The Guardian.

His defensive work did not detract from his attacking influence, his two goal contribution points to his willingness to still work hard in getting forward despite a defensive responsibility.

Sydney enjoyed complete control of the midfield on Australia Day and this week cannot be given such freedom.

If Melbourne Heart stick to their own solid structure and like Massimo Murdocca said earlier this week - "Make sure we take that confidence out of them in the first 5 or 10 minutes, make sure we get on top of them” - the likelihood of a positive result will be much greater.