Hyundai A-League Semi Final preview: Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Big Blues don't come much bigger than this with Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory squaring off in a do-or-die Semi Final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
It's a return to the scene of last year's Grand Final as Victory, beaten on penalties back then, aim to exact sweet revenge by denying their bitter rivals a shot at back-to-back championships.
They'll have to put aside any mental scars to do so, with the confident Sky Blues talking up the psychological advantage gained from seven straight wins in this fixture.
But aside from tension and animosity, it's always a risk to discount anything when these teams clash in the Hyundai A-League.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS THIS SEASON
Round 1 - Melbourne Victory 0-1 Sydney FC
Sydney FC shaded the Grand Final rematch on the opening weekend of the season courtesy of Thomas Deng's unfortunate own goal early in the second half.
In a tightly-contested match of few chances, the champions did enough to get their title defence off on the right note.
Round 18 - Melbourne Victory 1-3 Sydney FC
The Sky Blues responded to a pair of draws in the previous two weeks by running in three goals in the final 30 minutes at AAMI Park.
Jai Ingham won a penalty which Berisha converted for a Victory lead just shy of the hour, but it would only last two minutes as Bobo nodded in Luke Wilkshire's cross.
And the Brazilian was just getting started, winning and converting a penalty that saw Jason Geria dismissed.
David Carney added polish to the scoreline with a late third.
Round 25 - Sydney FC 1-0 Melbourne Victory
Victory were left to rue several missed opportunities as they signed off from the regular season with another narrow defeat.
Berisha wasted a glorious chance to give the visitors an early advantage and he was immediately made to pay, Bobo touching in a Michael Zullo cross at the other end.
Alex Wilkinson later cleared a Leroy George finish off the line to ensure Sydney FC received the Premiers Plate in fitting style.
Last five (old to new): L, W, W, W, W
Eyebrows were raised over the Sky Blues' stumble in March but those back-to-back losses have now been relegated to the rear view mirror.
Four straight wins since have served to underscore their readiness for the Finals Series.
Last five (old to new): L, W, W, L , W
While not at their best, Victory did enough to get past Adelaide United last weekend and have the ability to cause problems for any side in the competition.
Seven goals in their last four Hyundai A-League outings suggests they are finding an attacking groove at just the right time.
Sydney FC: Rhyan Grant is in the mix to see his first minutes since last year's Grand Final having completed a lengthy recovery from an ACL injury. While unlikely to start, his welcome presence should give Graham Arnold some extra defensive depth on the bench.
Melbourne Victory: Kevin Muscat is in an equally strong position with long-term casualty Mitch Austin the only unavailable member of his squad.
WHAT THEY SAID
Alex Brosque (Sydney FC forward): "To have seven wins in a row over them, there's no doubt that's playing on their minds. It's definitely on ours. In front of our home crowd and with our home record, we're very confident."
Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory striker): "We know we have a strong squad, we have a great team, we can perform good against Sydney - we know that. We have nothing to lose. We will go there and give everything."
Melbourne Victory have never lost to Sydney FC in regular time of a Finals Series match (W3, D1, L2 on penalties).
Sydney FC 1-0 Melbourne Victory