Having finished last in the A-League last season, resurgent Melbourne Victory can smell success in the league.
Most A-League clubs would be content to transform from wooden players to Premiership contenders and FFA Cup winners within a season, but not Melbourne Victory.
The rebirth of Victory – which finished bottom last season – under the leadership of super manager Tony Popovic has been remarkable.
Not only did Victory win the FFA Cup in February, the Melbourne club finished the A-League regular season with a 15-game winning streak.
Superb form has taken Victory to second place in the standings, just one point behind Premier Melbourne City.
The superb current form of victory, plus the agony of being so close to City in the Premier’s Plate race, Popovic’s men prepared and determined to win the A-League championship by conquering everyone ahead of them in the series of finals of A-League.
“There would have been a lot of doubts that they thought we wouldn’t be where we are, but we all had a lot of confidence from day one once we had the team and coaching staff,” said victory captain Josh Brillante since the launch of the final. on Wednesdays in Melbourne.
“We are not surprised where we are. Our standards are so high and the standard is so high that we always want more.
“Winning the championship would be a great result and a reward for all the hard work we’ve done this season, and we think it’s very achievable.
“We enter this series of very excited endings.”
As well as Melbourne City, who beat Wellington Phoenix 2-1 on Monday night to win the premiership.
City captain Scott Jamieson warned the rest of the top six that his team were in a better position than last season in their bid to clinch the premiership championship brace for the second consecutive year.
“We missed our Socceroos players for last year’s finals series and had major injuries to (then City striker) Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout,” Jamieson said.
“But in saying that, other teams will also have their Socceroos this season, so it’s a balanced keel.
“There is yet another mountain to climb in this series of finals with five other teams trying to win it and everything to play for.”
Courtesy of their respective first and second places in the standings, City and Victory have ended the opening weekend of the finals.
The series kicks off Saturday night when Victoria’s other top six team, Western United, host Wellington Phoenix in the elimination final at AAMI Park.
In Sunday’s elimination final, Adelaide United meet the Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium.
Danny Townsend, CEO of the Australian Professional Leagues, said: “The Premier’s Plate race kept us close to the final round of the regular season and we look forward to seeing more of the A-League top players in the next couple of weeks and middle .”