This is the Victory’s game to lose as they look to book a spot in the Grand Final.
Fresh from having a week off, they are rested and ready and face a side that had to play in an Asian Champions League fixture midweek while suffering an injury crisis to boot.
Bookies have Melbourne short and that is understandable, however, their form coming into this game hasn’t been tremendous with just two wins in the past six including a last start win over Central Coast.
Brisbane, on the other hand, needed penalties to overcome the Wanderers last week before suffering a 3-nil defeat at the hands of Muangthong United in Thailand on Wednesday night.
Melbourne Victory’s high-powered attack hasn’t been its usual self over the past month.
Just one goal scored in the last four games, and that was a late one against the Mariners a fortnight ago, wouldn’t give coach Kevin Muscat and his side a great deal of confidence here.
Despite that lull in scoring they still average 1.81 goals per game throughout the season and their 49 goals were only behind Sydney FC (55) and Perth (53).
A return to AAMI Park could see the spark return for the Victory.
Melbourne were the highest scoring team in the competition at home (34 goals) with only Sydney FC securing more points in front of their own fans.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Brisbane will be a bit travel weary heading down to Melbourne on Sunday.
They only arrived back in the country a few days ago and have had little time to prepare for this Preliminary Final, however, coach John Aloisi didn’t end a full strength squad over to Thailand.
The trip proved to be a disaster as they not only lost the match but also replacement keeper Jamie Young with a cut arm. It is doubtful that he will line up on Sunday and with regular stopper Michael Theo out of action with a knee injury, they will be stretched to find a replacement.
Making matters harder for them is the fact this is on the road where they were the lowest scoring of the top six sides and ended up with a plus/minus differential of -5 during the regular season.
Historically, Brisbane has lost their last three semis away from home which doesn’t spell good signs for this.
They have split the three-game series this season 1-1-1.
In the first game, Brisbane left it late to tie at Suncorp Stadium while Victory jumped them in the second game, racing to a 3-nil lead before Brisbane came storming back to go down 3-2.
Their most recent encounter was just four weeks ago when Brisbane won 1-0, again at Suncorp, but Melbourne were without several big-name players on that occasion.
In the past six games, Brisbane has won three of those with two draws thrown into the mix and the Victory saluting just once.
Melbourne Victory should be heading to the A-league Grand Final.
Everything points to them getting the money and it’s no wonder why so many Multi players are looking to leverage them as a leg in their investments this weekend.
Muscat’s side has won 10 matches at home this season while Brisbane’s away form has been average to say the least, winning just four times and drawing on another five occasions from 14 games.
In a big boost for Victory, Daniel Georgievski returns from suspension and with a fully fit arsenal which includes Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas and James Troisi who have scored 37 goals between them in 2016/17.
On the flip side, Brisbane’s main route to goal has been through the in-form Jamie Maclaren. The gun striker has 21 goals for the term and scored in last week’s epic encounter with the Wanderers.
Maclaren’s goal was the only thing separating the teams last time they met but prior to that he hadn’t scored in four games against the Victory. His previous tally was a hat-trick back in March last year when the Roar stunned Melbourne 5-0.
Even though there are some positives for Brisbane ($4.25 @ Topbetta), the fact they are a totally different team away from Suncorp really turns us off them in a big way.
The value in this game will come in the form of exotic markets. Get on Besart Berisha and Jamie Maclaren ($2.40 @ Sportsbet) to be Anytime Goalscorers as well as First Goalscorers.
JAMIE MACLAREN FIRST GOALSCORER