Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi praised his players for executing his high-pressing game plan in their 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory.
Aloisi revealed after the opening-round triumph on Friday that Heart had ‘studied (Victory) pretty closely’ and the first-year senior coach said his team would not always play such direct football but believed it was the perfect way to defeat Ange Postecoglou’s side.
Heart’s tactics focused on pressuring Victory high up the pitch and then attacking quickly and directly, using centre forward Dylan Macallister to hold the ball up with wingers David Williams and Mate Dugandzic bursting forward.
“What I saw in pre-season, they (Victory) normally press with their four (defenders) straight away and their two midfielders usually push on straight away,” Aloisi said.
“So we could see that there were going to be holes there just to play into Dylan and with the pace of Mate, if the full-back is out of position it’s a long ball but it’s a smart ball.”
Aloisi said Heart’s win over Victory was inspired by his team’s draw and win last season over Postecoglou’s former team Brisbane Roar.
However, Aloisi did concede Heart were probably lucky to play their cross-town rivals in the opening game of the season before Postecoglou fully executes his football philosophy at Victory.
“People talk about the way Brisbane played but we matched up well against Brisbane because we knew how they would play and we tried to pressure them in certain situations but no doubt Victory are going to get a lot stronger… but so will we,” Aloisi said.
Victory had 58 percent of possession for the game but forced Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton into just two saves.
Postecoglou’s team struggled to play the ball out of defence as Heart harried Victory all over the pitch, something Aloisi had been working on for almost a fortnight.
Heart’s pressing created plenty of goalscoring opportunities, particularly in the second half as Williams, Dugandzic and Macallister all wasted chances to score when they only had Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas to beat.
“We knew that that (Victory dominating possession) was going to happen and we just tried to set up our structure and our shape to be able to win the ball in certain areas and catch them out and that’s why we had so many one-on-ones,” Aloisi said.
“We knew we probably wouldn’t dominate as much with the possession… but the tactics that we’ve been working on, especially the last 10 days on Victory, worked well.”
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