Against Victory, 'City have nothing to lose'

​Friday night's semi final between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City is a watershed moment in the Hyundai A-League. It's the first time the two Melbourne clubs will face each other in a final.

It's a derby, but not as we've known them. 

It should be fantastic to watch. In the week where the FFA has outlined its blueprint for the future growth of the game, a blockbuster final between Victory and City offers a window on just how big the game can be.

If anything, the tempo,tension,urgency and energy of this contest will go to a whole new level. That makes this game unpredictable.

Victory v City: 3 key match-ups

And for Kevin Muscat and Melbourne Victory that could be dangerous. Why?

Because Melbourne City have nothing to lose.

Jonatan Germano celebrates his decisive goal for Melbourne City.

City finished 18 points behind Victory in the race for the Premiers' Plate. They were so far behind Muscat's men they would haven been lucky to see their taillights fading into the distance.

Nothing would satisfy City fans more than knocking off their cross town rivals and denying them a shot at the double in such a season of dominance.

Crucially, van 't Schip's team earned their finals berth on merit and not as a consequence of Perth Glory's folly. 

Video: Every goal from 2014/15 Melbourne Derbies!

That sense of legitimacy was reflected in their performance in Wellington where they controlled the Elimination Final for long periods and took their chances when they presented.

It was the most pragmatic, efficient football of the season that City have played. Whether they can produce that sort of performance in the cauldron of a derby is entirely another matter.

Josh Kennedy celebrates scoring Melbourne City's first Finals Series goal.

Melbourne Victory have an abundance of attacking options that will stretch even the best defence.

Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Kosta Barbarouses are dynamic out wide and run hard to punish teams in transition. In Gui Finkler Victory have a fine technician who taunts and teases opponents with his intelligent movement and passing. 

At the sharp end of it Besart Berisha and Archie Thompson are big game marksmen. Both players raise their game when the stakes are highest and this contest is tailor made for players of their ilk.

Besart Berisha and Ben Khalfallah have both scored Derby goals this season.

Thompson has been part of the support cast this season and he's still managed to net 10 times.  Berisha's 13 goals are complemented by seven assists which indicates just how well he has integrated into this team.

Patrick Kisnorbo and Connor Chapman have built the foundations of a sold City defence. They will need the physicality of Erik Paartalu to provide a solid shield in midfield if City are to cause an upset.

With Victory's aggressive approach, City will get their chances. The sight of Josh Kennedy sticking one away last weekend was enormously encouraging for van 't Schip. 

Kennedy has struggled to find his role in this team but it may come together for him at just the right time.

In Harry Novillo van 't Schip may have found the man for the occasion. The Frenchman does not want for self belief. In these big games timidity is the enemy of success and you just know the former Lyon man won't die wondering.

City's Aaron Mooy hugs teammate Harry Novillo after his equaliser on Friday night.

For City to win its marquee man Robbie Koren must produce his best. The Slovenian International has been criticised for delivering below expectation this season.

Last week against Phoenix was his best performance of the campaign. It can't be allowed to stand as a one-off. This is where his experience and technique must pay a dividend.

Because the prize on offer is a spot in the Hyundai Grand Final. And the sweetest derby win of all.

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