Marrone: Heart To Thrive Under Finals Pressure

Defender Michael Marrone believes Melbourne Heart FC will thrive under the pressure of finals football ahead of the Hyundai A-League’s month-long competition showcase.

Defender Michael Marrone believes Melbourne Heart FC will thrive under the pressure of finals football ahead of the Hyundai A-League-s month-long competition showcase.

Marrone, 25, has consolidated his status as one of the Hyundai A-League-s premier players this season, earning a call-up to the Socceroos for its AFC World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia last month.

While Marrone has now made his mark from an individual standpoint, the powerful right back remains eager for team success, predicting Heart may benefit from the cut throat nature of the Finals Series.

“I think we-ve tended to play well under pressure, so I think finals will suit us just fine,” he said.

“When it-s finals football, anything is up for grabs, and I feel any team in the top six can beat any other team, so it should be interesting.”

“We have beaten Brisbane and Perth away this year and done well against most of the leading sides, so we are confident but know that there is plenty of work to do from here as we will be playing away from home all the time.”

Injuries have played their part in hampering Heart-s top two hopes this season, with the untimely unavailability of Fred and Matt Thompson during January undoubtedly contributing to the side-s mid-season form lull.

Less than two months on however, Heart will enter the finals in arguably better shape than any of its rivals, with only Adrian Zahra unavailable for selection after straining his hamstring.

With a near full quota of players available, the battle for places in the match day squad has correspondingly intensified, making for competitive atmosphere at training.

'”We are in a good position with the squad. Everyone is fit and healthy, and there will be tough competition at training all week for places as everyone wants to play in a finals campaign,” he said.

'”Even the boys who have been injured and not played at all this season - like Nick Kalmar - are training now and that's important as if we get injuries we need everyone available and ready.”