The team which executes best under intense pressure will most likely advance to the second week of the Hyundai A-League 2016 Finals Series, according to Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat.
Victory takes on Brisbane Roar in an Elimination Final on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, on the back of six games unbeaten in all competitions.
The two clubs squared off last week in the final round of the Hyundai A-League regular season, with neither team able to break the deadlock in a tense draw.
Victory returns to the ground where it lost 5-0 in Round 23, on a night when Roar striker Jamie Maclaren scored a hat-trick.
But the atmosphere of a final presents a different challenge this week, says Muscat.
“We took a lot of learning out of that game in Brisbane. There were some clear indicators why we ended up getting what we got on that night,” he said.
“It’s who can handle the big stage at the cut-throat end of the season, under immense pressure. The team that does that best has the greatest chance of winning.
“All of the attention will be on the final result, but the reality is the performance will dictate that.
“I’ve always said it’s better to perform well than be lucky. Luck will last a game, a half, 10 minutes, but consistent performances normally yield the best results.”
Victory skipper Carl Valeri, who is set to make his third straight appearance since his return from illness, said Victory would have to find a mental edge over their opponents to give them the best chance of winning.
“It matters about how hungry the team is, how desperate they are to win, to turn those 50-50s into 60-40s into your favour,” he said.
“Finals are a really big mental battle. We’ve got a lot of experience. We’ve got a tight-knit group at the moment.
“It brings the best out of you. Everyone always seems to find that extra percent to throw in for the team.
“That’s what I love about playing in finals. It’s that feeling you get before it. It’s a very special occasion.
“I know we have to just focus on ourselves and what we have to do, and do it right. It’s going to be a fantastic game.”
The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm AEST and on a one-hour delay on SBS 2 from 8.00pm AEST.