Hyundai A-League Elimination Final preview: City v Roar
Melbourne City are out to prove their best-ever Hyundai A-League finish was no fluke when post-season veterans Brisbane Roar visit in Friday night's Elimination Final.
Warren Joyce's men secured third on the ladder to book hosting rights at AAMI Park and they are now aiming to maximise a promising first season in charge for the English boss.
But a confident Roar stormed into sixth on the strength of their road form and will be eager to prove they are far from a fading force.
And with a knockout record envied by most clubs in the competition, Brisbane will be hoping to cause a shock at the scene of City's disastrous Elimination Final exit 12 months ago.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS THIS SEASON
Round 1 - Melbourne City 2-0 Brisbane
Bruce Kamau was the star as Melbourne City cruised to three points in the opening match of the 2017/18 Season.
The winger broke the deadlock with a calm finish from the edge of the area on the stroke of half-time and doubled his tally with a deflected effort after the interval.
Brisbane Roar 3-1 Melbourne City - Round 7
Roar's wait for revenge lasted just over a month as the two clubs reconvened at Suncorp Stadium in November.
Avram Papadopoulos was the unlikely hero on this occasion, scoring twice as City succumbed to their own errors.
Stefan Mauk grabbed a consolation for the visitors, but a first Brisbane goal for Eric Bautheach in between Papadopoulos' pair helped John Aloisi's men end their six-game winless streak.
Brisbane Roar 1-2 Melbourne City - Round 19
Beaten on their previous visit, Suncorp Stadium held no fears for City as they came from behind to extend their unbeaten run to six matches.
Roar had gone ahead through Massimo Maccarone's eighth of the season, only for Marcin Budzinski to reply five minutes later.
And, after Mauk struck for the second straight trip to Queensland, Maccarone missed a chance to equalise as his tame penalty was kept out by Dean Bouzanis.
Stefan Mauk has scored twice in three meetings this term.
Last five (old to new): D, W, W, W, L
Warren Joyce's men looked set to enter the Finals Series as one of the competition's most in-form teams, but their four-game unbeaten run was scuppered by a Round 27 loss away to Wellington Phoenix which, admittedly, had no bearing on their ladder position.
Last five (old to new): W, D, W, L, W
Roar's impressive late surge into the six reached its zenith with the gritty 2-1 win away to Sydney FC in March. Their recovery from a sluggish start to the campaign then looked likely to go unrewarded after a 3-0 hiding against Western Sydney Wanderers, but Roar regrouped to Perth Glory and maintain a strong away record.
Melbourne City: Joyce could have a full roster to choose from after the versatile Osama Malik made his first appearance for two months in City's loss to Wellington. Bruce Kamau also returned to the bench for that match, while key defender Michael Jakobsen - who made the trip but didn't play - is expected to be fit on Friday.
Brisbane Roar: Brett Holman's availability for Brisbane is uncertain after he was forced off with a knee problem in the weekend win in Perth. Daniel Bowles is considered a chance to boost an injury-hit defence which will be without Luke DeVere, Jade North and Avram Papadopoulos.
Brett Holman is under an injury cloud.
WHAT THEY SAID
Henrique: "We have no fear playing away. This is the most important time of the year. We've been here eight seasons in a row now, we know what we have to do and we're going to go hard."
Daniel Arzani: "I think we can do something special this year. I think everyone likes playing under a bit of pressure – me as well. It brings out the best in you and hopefully it does on Friday night as well."
Daniel Arzani is "very confident" in City's credentials.
City are undefeated in their last 10 games against Roar at AAMI Park (W7, D3), despite them trailing at half-time in three of the last four such fixtures.
Melbourne City 2-1 Brisbane Roar