Feeling the buzz
It mightn’t be our first given our achievements last season, but the buzz and excitement of this year’s Grand Final week is certainly still just as intense - if not more.
Not only is this our first ever A-League Grand Final at home, it’s also the first time that Victorian City fans have been able to attend a live Grand Final at all, given the COVID-19 situation in August last year that prohibited fans from travelling interstate for the game.
Whether you’ve managed to secure yourself a seat for Sunday, or you’re watching from home or elsewhere, the uncontainable excitement when you hear the first whistle is sure to take over.
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Whilst making it to a second consecutive Grand Final is already a proud achievement for the Club, the feat is made even more meaningful given our opportunity to seek retribution for our disappointing loss in last year’s showpiece event.
City fans will have little trouble remembering the way we battled fiercely for 90 minutes, forcing extra-time, before ultimately being brought undone by a Rhyan Grant goal in the 100th.
This time around, it’s City who have been the superior side throughout the regular season, and though we’ve already got a Premiers Plate to show for our performances, we’re hungry for another piece of silverware to ensure there’s no doubt about who the best team of 2020/21 was.
The return of a couple of stars?
City fans were excited to see superstar wingers Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout return to our matchday squad for the Semi Final but would have been equally as devastated to learn of the former’s late withdrawal from the clash following an injury flare-up in the warm-ups.
On the other hand, whilst Nabbout made it through the pre-match preparations, Patrick Kisnorbo elected not to utilise his superstar on the bench, instead putting faith in his young attacking trio to make the breakthrough, a decision that paid off.
With another strong week of training and game day preparations under their belt, City fans will be hoping to see the two star wingers take to the pitch in some form against Sydney FC.
Will Cola and Tils shine again on the big stage?
We saw our youngsters shine in the Semi Final last weekend, but performing in a Grand Final will be another step-up for Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio, the former having seen 15 minutes off the bench in last year's decider.
The pair have excited fans all year with their attacking contributions off the bench and in their occasional starting appearances, also proving effective in their time on the pitch, combining for a total of five goals and eight assists between them.
With Noone and Nabbout still no certainties to start, Melbourne City fans may again be looking to Colakovski and Tilio to prove the difference in what is set to be a hotly-contested Grand Final.
A heavyweight bout at the back: Reis & Griffiths vs. Bobo & Le Fondre
The City backline were able to keep a crucial clean sheet against Macarthur FC in the Semi Final, but achieving the same feat against Sydney FC this Saturday will be another challenge entirely.
The Sky Blues have been bolstered by the dual arrival of returning stars Bobo and Adam Le Fondre, who’ve hit the ground running upon their A-League returns, combining for 16 goals already.
Whilst defending is undoubtedly a team responsibility that every player on the park contributes to, it’ll likely be City’s centre-back pairing of Nuno Reis and Rostyn Griffiths who are most occupied with shutting out Sydney’s two-pronged attack.
The experienced and reliable central defenders have been excellent for City all season, but keeping a clean sheet on Sunday will likely be the greatest challenge they’ve faced thus far.