Melbourne Victory returns to AAMI Park on Saturday night, where it will look to re-establish some momentum against an unpredictable Western Sydney side.
With the Asian Champions League to consider and the prospect of a home final just a few weeks away, Kevin Muscat is aware of the importance of form following defeat in Perth.
“Apart from last week, we have been free-flowing and scoring goals ourselves,” stated Muscat. “Last week’s result wasn’t through a lack of trying, it just wasn’t our night in front of a goal, against a team who defended desperately.”
Victory will be aiming to strengthen its spot inside the top four with a win over Saturday’s opponents, who themselves are being chased for a place in the finals.
Muscat’s men were victorious in the last meeting between the sides, with Kosta Barbarouses scoring two in a 3-0 away win.
With more than just three points at stake and a Champions League date to consider, Muscat and his men are focused and prepared for the task ahead.
On Saturday night against Western Sydney…
“It’s a similar game to Sunday, when we went across to Perth. It probably hasn’t happened as much in previous years, but there are a lot of teams jostling for positions. It’s good that the majority of teams still have something to play for.
“We are looking forward to the game and we look forward to applying the pressure on them.
“They’ve got some strengths and some good players which we’re aware of. We want to get on the front foot early and put them under more pressure.”
On getting back to winning ways…
“Apart from last week, we have been free-flowing and scoring goals ourselves. Last week’s result wasn’t through a lack of trying, it just wasn’t our night in front of a goal, against a team who defended desperately.
“When we’re attacking teams and creating chances, we defend a lot better. That is the key for us – we want to be on the front foot and pressing teams. The more we attack, the more chances we create and the further we are from our goal.”
On defeat in Perth…
“Sport is based on moments and we had a couple of good moments where we could’ve went ahead and that would’ve changed the game. Having said that, after we settled down we got on top and played some good football. We conceded against the run of play and just before half-time.
“That moment gave them something to hold on to and gave them some belief. From there on, they defended desperately and deep, which frustrated us. We couldn’t get that breakthrough goal, that would have propelled us to go on.
“It wasn’t a terrible performance, but we realise there are certain areas where we could have been better.”
On preparing for the Asian Champions League…
“I could say we’re not thinking about the game in Korea whatsoever, but that is unrealistic. The management of the playing group has to be taken into consideration.
“Besides from managing things, we narrow our focus onto Western Sydney and we will pick up the pieces afterwards. The game on Saturday is too important for us to only think about Ulsan.”
On rotating the midfield…
“We’ve juggled with the idea [of resting Carl Valeri], but he was very good for us in Perth. We will judge the condition of the group and see how they train this morning.
“I don’t think Matias [Sanchez] automatically plays on Saturday, simply because he isn’t available next week. But it is something we will take into consideration.”
On James Troisi returning from Socceroos duty…
“We’ve been in contact with him and he is raring to go. He didn’t play much at all, during the two games. If anything, he has had a nice little rest with some travel.”
On managing the players’ schedule…
“We frequently discuss it but if you look at our form and the way we’ve played since the start of the Asian Champions League, we’ve been fairly good.
“I think accepting the challenges and difficulties that it brings, helps us move on and find solutions.
“It is an honour to be in the competition and not only are we representing our football club, but we are representing Australia in general.”