Muscat expects more from Melbourne Victory in Finals Series

Kevin Muscat believes his Melbourne Victory side will be ready to come out firing in next week’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

The 2018 Champions laboured to a 1-0 win on the road against Western Sydney Wanderers, in the Red and Black's final home match at ANZ Stadium before their move to the brand new Bankwest Stadium for the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League campaign.

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Marquee striker Ola Toivonen’s 22nd-minute header was enough to down Markus Babbel’s side, as Wanderers waved farewell to club legend Mark Bridge, who came on as a substitute for the last half hour.

Victory will learn on Sunday night if they will host a derby against Melbourne City, or face Wellington Phoenix, in the opening Elimination Final next Friday at AAMI Park.

However, after a regular season finale lacking in quality, Muscat reveals he has no concerns that his side will be able to raise their game next week as Victory seek back-to-back championships.

“The circumstances are very difficult. The reality is there were bits and pieces where we were half decent,” said Muscat.

“The game is played at a hugely different tempo to what is going to occur next week. We have discussions on what do we take out. Everything about the game is not the same

“Having said that, credit to the playing group, we scored a very good goal, one of the very few highlights of the game.

“The build up, the movement, bringing the ball from side-to-side and then a good ball into the box and a smashing header. We had many more opportunities that we didn’t take, but as I said, next week will be totally different.”

Muscat revealed James Troisi is recovering well but explained it is ‘unlikely’ the midfielder will be available for Friday night’s Elimination Final given the shorter turnaround. 

The Victory coach also hinted Matt Acton would be his starting goalkeeper heading into the finals, having won the number one jersey from Lawrence Thomas.

“It’s a very good position we’re in because Matty has earned his opportunity and through that opportunity we have now established that we’ve got two keepers vying for one place. It’s great.”

Western Sydney coach Babbel is ‘100 per cent’ certain Wanderers will return in 2019/20 with a stronger squad and be ready to compete for a place in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

“What we are looking for in the new season is we need quality and we need experience,” Babbel said.

“How we play, the style, was most of the time good. If you get this many chances, you have to win these games.

“It doesn’t matter who the opposite side is because then they are struggling again us. We couldn’t get the results so this is the next step. 

“Many of the players have two frustrating seasons behind them and there definitely will not follow a third one.

“We will have a strong side and we have to come back in the playoffs. It’s what the club expect and where we want to go.”

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