Melbourne City FC will play-off in the A-League Men Grand Final for the third consecutive season when it takes on Western United at AAMI Park this Saturday night.
City comes into Saturday’s fixture off the back of a hard-fought 2-1 win over Adelaide United, while Western United qualified for the decider after a 4-2 win on aggregate against Melbourne Victory.
There’s no shortage of reasons to be there, but we’ve picked out just a few things you should be watching for on Saturday night.
A shot at history
It’s been a strong last year for City, with Patrick Kisnorbo’s side having lifted three trophies at home.
No team in the history of the A-Leagues has ever been able to call themselves back-to-back Premiers and Champions, but a City win on Saturday night will see that change.
Last season’s decider saw an established Sydney FC side going for a third consecutive Championship, up against a City side gunning for its first. This time around the shoe is on the other foot with the City boys the seasoned outfit up against Western United who will play in a Grand Final for the first time in their short history.
Who can make the big stage their own?
While we were missing key players to both Socceroos duty and injury, our 2021 Finals campaign will be remembered for a number of youngsters making a name for themselves.
Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski did the damage in the Semi Final, scoring and assisting each other in the space of seconds to see us into the big dance, before Nathaniel Atkinson put in a stunning Grand Final display, scoring and walking away with the Joe Marston Medal.
We’ve already seen Tilio repeat the trick last week, popping up with the equaliser in a dynamic cameo off the bench – but who could be the hero for City in the Grand Final this time around?
There’s plenty of firepower in the front third that are all capable of being the difference on the big stage, with Mathew Leckie in particular coming off the back of a man of the match performance last time out.
Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe will all be fired up for this one too having watched last season’s Grand Final from hotel quarantine following national team duty. Metcalfe in particular will be desperate to lift another trophy, with Saturday night set to be his last match in a City shirt.
Monkey off the back?
Much was made in the lead-up to the Semi Finals of the fact that City was yet to beat a top four team – but that statistic was put to bed last week.
City are still yet to beat Western United this season, but you wouldn’t think that would be something that Patrick Kisnorbo or the playing group would be dwelling on too much ahead of Saturday’s decider.
Two 1-0 early season defeats, the second of which City was missing a number of key players, preceded one of the games of the season in mid-March.
Western shocked City going ahead 2-0 inside the first half hour, before Connor Metcalfe was able to pull a goal back just before the break. Jamie Maclaren then struck with a clinical finish in the 65th minute as the contest ultimately finished 2-2.
There’s no chance that will happen on Saturday night though, with extra-time and penalties to come into effect if needed. That being said, there’s no doubt we’ll all be hoping to see the boys get the job done inside the ninety minutes!
A-League Men: Grand Final
Melbourne City FC v Western United
Saturday 28 May, 7:45pm