Muscat expects tight finals battle

Melbourne Victory

Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat expects a tight battle against the Wellington Phoenix in the Elimination Final on Friday.

Victory, the reigning champion, hosts the Phoenix at AAMI Park to begin the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

Wellington and Victory have already played out three draws this season, including 1-1 and 3-3 results in Melbourne.

Muscat, who ruled out attacking midfielder James Troisi due to a hamstring injury, expects another battle on Friday.

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“It’s more about us and recognising where we want to press and how we want to press and earn the right to get the ball back and then, it sounds simplistic, go and hurt them the other way,” he told a news conference.

“Everybody needs service. These games here, they are generally really, really tight affairs … there’s going to be millions of battles tomorrow night, every moment there’ll be a battle.

“So, the contest is obviously very important to us and then to go and express ourselves and play some football that we want to play and how we want to play.

“Yes, you’ve got an opponent who without doubt try and affect that and stop that so it’s a matter of continuously persevering, in a contest that’s going to be very, very tight.”

Victory finished third on the table to earn hosting rights in the first week of what is its seventh straight Finals Series.

Muscat is eager to see his side deliver a performance in front of its home fans at AAMI Park.

“Preparation is key for us,” he said.

“These games here, the clarity of what and how we want to go about playing tomorrow night, using our strengths, focusing on your strengths is vital and important and we’ve done that this week and just the clarity of information, that everybody understands is very clear so when you are going out there, your mind is free of the expectation of what you need to do, you’re clear on what you need to do.

“Then, it’s a contest, it’s a contest here in Melbourne, AAMI Park, with our wonderful members and fans that’ll come out and support us and then it’s up to us to give them a performance, or give ourselves a performance that everybody can be satisfied with.”

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