What to watch for: Semi Final First Leg

Melbourne City FC will begin its Finals campaign on Wednesday night when it travels to Coopers Stadium to face Adelaide United.

Under a new Finals format, City will face the Reds away from home in the first leg before returning to AAMI Park for the second leg on Sunday afternoon.

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Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for on Wednesday night.

Reversing a not so great record

You won’t need much reminding of our record in Adelaide in recent seasons, and it certainly doesn’t make for pretty reading.

We haven’t won at Coopers Stadium since 2018, having drawn two and lost the remaining four of our matches in the City of Churches ever since.

We did find ourselves in winning positions in both away fixtures against the Reds earlier this season, but late drama saw the points eventually shared on both occasions.

While as mentioned, it’s certainly not pretty reading, Wednesday night will present the perfect opportunity to change the narrative on the big stage of a Semi Final.

There may not be an Away Goals rule in place for the Finals, but regardless, you can expect Patrick Kisnorbo’s men to come out all guns blazing and looking to bring the all-important lead back to Melbourne for the second leg on Sunday.

Handling the Finals pressure

There’s no doubt that the pressure goes up a notch come Finals time, and Kisnorbo’s side couldn’t be better prepared.

City comes into Wednesday night off the back of a do-or-die Premiership deciding fixture, a week after returning from its AFC Champions League campaign where there was a huge level of importance on each and every clash.

With plenty of experience across the squad, be it at international level, in Europe, or in past A-Leagues Finals campaigns, City has all the tools required to handle the pressure and win its way to a third consecutive Grand Final.

Who stands up on the big stage

You’ll no doubt remember the chaotic nature of last season’s Finals, headlined by the unavailability of our Socceroos and our home Semi Final being played in New South Wales.

Thankfully, we won’t have to deal with either of those scenarios again, but it does beg the question as to who will stand up this time around?

In the absence of some key attacking talent for the 2021 Finals, we saw the likes of Marco Tilio, Stefan Colakovski and Nathaniel Atkinson make a name for themselves, so who will rise to the occasion in 2022?

We’ve seen plenty of goals come from our Socceroos attacking quartet throughout the season, and no doubt are hoping that see it continue into the Finals.

Looking further down the pitch, Connor Metcalfe will be aiming to finish his time at City on a strong note after having been awarded the Alex Tobin Medal on the weekend, while Curtis Good will also return to the line-up after having served a one match suspension.

City fans will also hope to see French attacking midfield maestro Florin Berenguer back in the squad. Berenguer hasn’t featured for City since early April but is now back in training and pushing hard for a return.