Victory hold aces
Victory defender Rody Vargas says Sydney FC's desire to score on Sunday will play right into Melbourne's hands as the reigning champions look to secure a home grand final for the second successive season.
Melbourne Victory defender Rody Vargas says Sydney FC's desire to score in Sunday's second leg of the major Hyundai A-League semi-final will play right into the Victory's hands as the reigning champions look to secure a home grand final for the second successive season.
The Victory might be heading to Sydney on Sunday with a depleted strike force with Nik Mrdja suspended and Archie Thompson (foot) and Robbie Kruse (ankle) still far from certain to return from injury, but they do so with a valuable 2-1 lead from the first leg in Melbourne.
That means Sydney not only has to score to progress to the grand final but they have to win and Vargas believes the Sky Blues will have to take an ultra-attacking mindset into the game, which in turn will help Melbourne hit them on the counter attack.
Vargas says the Victory defence has focused all week on the need to keep a clean sheet for as long as possible, which will only put more pressure on Sydney to score.
"We go out every game trying to keep a clean sheet but we know this week it is an added bonus if we do keep a clean sheet because we will be in the grand final so it is a good incentive to play well," he said after Victory training at Olympic Park on Tuesday.
"For us boys at the back, we have focused on the last couple of months on not conceding in the first 15-20 minutes and this week is very much the same."
"We know they (Sydney) have to come out and score and that might open the game up for us, so we are very confident that we can counter attack and score a few goals ourselves."
Vargas says the Victory defence is also preparing to turn Sydney's home ground advantage this week against them - knowing that the longer they can prevent the Sky Blues from scoring, the more restless the home crowd will become knowing that if the game was to finish 0-0 then Melbourne will host this year's premiership decider.
"No doubt the first 15-20 minutes is vitally important," Vargas said.
"They have to win, the onus is on them to come out and score and the longer we can go without conceding then the better it is for us."
"And then if they start to get nervous and throw men forward then it will open the game up for us and we love that type of game (of hitting teams on the counter attack)." Vargas said the Victory players were also coping well with their dual commitments of the A-League finals series and the Asian Champions League group stage with Melbourne's next ACL match coming just 48 hours after Sunday's trip to Sydney.
"Someone like Musky (skipper Kevin Muscat) is 36 and is fully fit, playing midweek games and travelling to China (for Melbourne's recent opening ACL game)," Vargas said.
"So they (Melbourne's medical staff) have done a great job monitoring our training and all the boys are gearing up and ready to go for Sunday."