City Head Coach Michael Valkanis understands the enormity of the fourth Melbourne Derby of the season, saying his side has prepared for all the scenarios it can control ahead of the contest.
See Michael Valkanis' press conference from 32:10 above
Both side’s run of form has seen City and Victory pick up only three points out of their last six league matches but form will be thrown out the window on Saturday night as the rivals go head to head in a genuine six pointer.
A win for City will see them move to within three points of Victory in second place and Valkanis is confident his side has found the solution to start an important run towards the Finals Series.
“We’ve got a good squad, we keep working on things,” Valkanis said.
“It’s learning and it’s a different way of defending and playing. This group of players has done a lot of learning in playing different ways, evolving as a team.
"Now it’s down to detail. We are aware of these things and we will focus on them. Hopefully this week we’ll show the work we did, we rectified our weaknesses and have a good game.”
Their dominance in possession has forced opposition sides into employing a counter attacking game with some success and Valkanis feels City have refined their defensive game over the past month to iron out these issues.
“We all have to adapt to teams playing counter attack, we need to keep working on it, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“We’ve been focusing on it this week and we’ve been focusing on it in the past and it’s one of those things the players will adapt and get used to.
“It’s a different way of defending and players have to get used to it and really have to be switched on. In our style, there’s not time to switch off because defenders are involved in attack and attackers are involved in defending.
“It’s not as simple as dropping off, defending with 9 men behind the ball, playing it directly long and counter attacking. They have to adapt to those situations, there’s mechanisms in place that we work on and the players will get it right, there’s no doubt about it.”
There will not be a better stage for City to test their defensive mechanisms than against one of the most potent attacks in the league on Saturday night and the Head Coach feels playing against top opposition will bring out the best in his side.
“The next ten games, I don’t care who we are playing, we have to see them as the best team in the A-League, week in week out,” he said.
“We have to take it game by game and every opponent to see them as the best team in the A-League and no matter what, play our game, play to the best of our ability and use those games as preparation for finals so we’re ready to rock and roll for that.”
“I’ve been involved the Derby as an assistant coach and I’m really looking forward to this game. The boys have worked hard and prepared well for it. It’s a big game and it should have a good atmosphere and two teams that want to play good football so looking forward to it.”
City take on Victory in the 23rd edition of the Melbourne Derby on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium, kick-off 7.50pm. See our final four home matches with our Three Match Membership. Hit the banner below to sign up today!