Build-up pleases Merrick

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says his team could not be better prepared for Saturday night's Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Sydney FC.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says his team could not be better prepared for Saturday night's Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Sydney FC.

The Victory is aiming to become the first club to win back-to-back championships in the competition's five-year history.

After a season wracked by injuries to key players and an intense travelling schedule due to the club's involvement in the AFC Champions League, everything has finally gone smoothly for Melbourne just at the right time.

Apart from long-term knee injury victims Matthew Kemp and Billy Celeski, the Victory is set to have a full squad to choose from on Saturday night with last year's grand final hero Tom Pondeljak a chance to overcome a hamstring injury. A decision on his availability will be left to Saturday morning.

At various stages this year Melbourne has been without the likes of skipper Kevin Muscat and star strikers Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse for long periods while it was forced to play Asian Champions' League games virtually straight after both legs of its major semi-final win over Sydney.

However Melbourne will have enjoyed the luxury of a 10-day break heading into the grand final. In contrast, Sydney was forced to overcome Wellington in last week's preliminary final.

"As it would happen we have got our best team available for the most crucial game of the season and I think the best is yet to come from Melbourne Victory," Merrick said at Friday's official grand final press conference.

"It's been the perfect build-up for us."

"We played at home against (Korean team) Seongnam (in the ACL on the Tuesday night of last week) and the rest of that week we spent in recovery and rehab."

"The boys then got last weekend off completely, which meant mentally they could get a break from the game, and then we started our preparation (for the grand final) seriously on Monday so it's been an excellent preparation for us."

In fact Merrick's team is looking so strong that experienced players such as Pondeljak, Nick Ward, Evan Berger and Costa Rican import Marvin Angulo are likely to find themselves on the bench and unable to even win a place in the starting line-up.

And it is in that area - the quality of his bench - that Merrick believes Melbourne has an advantage over Sydney.

This was also evident in the second leg of the semi-final when star striker Archie Thompson came off the bench, after returning from injury, to score the winner.

"As any coach will tell you it's often that the quality of a team can be measured by the quality of the bench and I thought our bench in the semi final was outstanding," Merrick said.

"Every time we bought someone on - whether it was Archie or Marvin Angulo or Evan Berger - our team just seemed to get better and stronger and we will be in a similar situation tomorrow (in the grand final)."