Marco Rojas has had an excellent season for Melbourne. Source: Getty Images/dailytelegraph.com.au
The A-League finals get underway on Friday night with the team that finished third, Melbourne Victory , taking on Perth Glory , who finished the regular season three spots below them. While Melbourne secured a berth in the finals series some time ago, the Glory only scrapped into the post-season courtesy of a draw with Adelaide United on Saturday.
Although they finished the regular season in third place on the ladder, Victory only limped into the finals, with the club managing just a solitary win in the last four rounds. That result came last week however, with big guns Marco Rojas , Marcos Flores and Archie Thompson all on the scoresheet in the clubs 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand. Ange Postecoglou will have breathed a sigh of relief to see him squad come through that match with a clean bill of health meaning that long term absentee Gui Finkler, Nick Ansell and Adama Traore are the only first squad players unavailable this week.
Perth will be boosted by the return of two important figures this week, with Liam Miller and Shane Smeltz coming back into the squad after missing the 1-1 draw against the Reds through suspension and injury respectively. Given the important contribution that both players have made this season, new coach Alistair Edwards is likely to throw both men straight back into the starting XI at Etihad Stadium, but he will dearly miss veteran midfielder Travis Dodd who suffered a season ending knee injury against Melbourne Victory last month.
Both of these sides have had problems at the back recently, with Melbourne keeping a clean sheet just once in their past ten outings and Perth conceding in each of their past 15 matches, suggesting that there should be goals in this encounter. When the clubs met in Melbourne a fortnight ago, the visitors scored a shock 3-2 win courtesy of an injury time winner, while Victory scored 1-0 wins in both the round nine and round 17 showdowns between the pair.
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