Bluffer's guide to Hyundai A-League Semi Finals

​Get excited people! The Hyundai A-League season is coming to a thrilling climax with two blockbuster semi finals to look forward to this weekend.

A cracking Melbourne derby kicks things off on Friday night before Sydney and Adelaide resume hostilities 24 hours later in the Harbour City. 

Ahead of the two sudden-death matches to determine this year’s grand finalists, here's what you need to know.

Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City FC

When: Friday night, May 8

Where: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Crowd: More than 45,000 spectators are expected to cram into Etihad to witness the first-ever Melbourne derby in a Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

Recent History: The two sides have met three times this season, with Victory holding a slight advantage with two wins to City’s one.

In those two wins,  Kevin Muscat’s troops have scored eight goals, including a 5-2 drubbing at Etihad early in the campaign.

Victory striker Besart Berisha has proved to be City’s Achilles heel with four goals against them in three games.

Erik Paartalu scored a late winner in City’s solitary success, a 1-0 triumph in December.

City striker Josh Kennedy fights for the ball with Victory midfielder Carl Valeri.

Talking points: The Melbourne derby is always a wonderful occasion but this will be the most special one yet because of what’s at stake.

Victory have been the best side all season and are worthy Premiers’ Plate winners.

But, as City boss John van ‘t Schip said on Sunday, all the pressure will be on Victory not to slip up now and throw it all away.

City pile pressure on cross-town rivals

The form book suggests Victory should be too strong but if we’ve learned anything from this fixture in the past it’s that recent form counts for little.

City has made a habit of getting up for matches with their bitter rivals regardless of ladder position and they’ll relish the chance to do that again in the biggest match of the season so far.

Where it will be won:

Melbourne has never seen anything like it in the Hyundai A-League before.

A final with two sides from the same city and with a fierce dislike for each other makes for a build-up to a match live never before.

It will be a massive build-up all week and which team can block all that out and deal with the extra hype and pressure the best will go a long way to emerging victorious.

Both sides are blessed with big-game players and some devastating attacking stars. There are sure to be goals in this one.

The midfield battle between the likes of Milligan, Valeri and Finkler for Victory against Paartalu, Mooy and Koren for City will be intriguing and pivotal.

Melbourne City's Aaron Mooy fights for the ball with Victory's Besart Berisha.

Expect Victory’s wingers to attack City’s inexperienced full-backs as well.

Whatever you’re doing on Friday, make sure you’re somewhere to witness this one. 

Sydney FC v Adelaide United

When: Saturday night, May 9

Where: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Crowd: More than 30,000 should turn out for a clash between the second and third-placed sides during the regular season.

Recent History

Sky Blues fans turn away now.

Including a clash in the Westfield FFA Cup, these two have met four times this season and it’s the Reds who have enjoyed all the success.

A 0-0 draw in Adelaide early in the season is Sydney’s only joy against Josep Gombau’s side.

Most importantly for the Reds they have won all three matches at Allianz Stadium, including a 1-0 triumph just last month.

Talking points 

These two sides are developing quite a rivalry.

Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold has accused the Reds of being a ‘long-ball’ team - citing Opta Data statistics - and was critical of their physical approach the last time these two met.

Arnold: Reds a long-ball team

Gombau countered after Adelaide’s win over the finals, believing Sydney may be a little underdone following a week off for finishing second during the regular season.

Reds defender Tarek Elrich challenges for the ball with Sydney FC striker Bernie Ibini.

Sydney countered that counter by playing an intra-club friendly on their  "weekend off". 

Sydney FC’s home form must also be a concern, with all five of their defeats this season coming on their home patch.

It all adds up to a dramatic semi final.

Where it will be won

The Sky Blues have failed to break down Adelaide’s well-structured defensive wall whenever they’ve met this season.

It makes the first goal in this one critical.

If Adelaide get it they can stay compact and resolute and use their quick transition game to hit Sydney on the counter-attack.

But if the Sky Blues can get their noses in front it will not only force Adelaide to come out an attack but take some of the pressure off the home side due to their poor record at Allianz.

Sydney must be more clinical in the front third to beat Eugene Galekovic, who was the difference the last time these two sides met, while the class of Marcelo Carrusca, Sergio Cirio, Milos Dimitrijevic and Alex Brosque makes this a must-watch semi-final.