Sydney familiarity breeds respect

Melbourne defender Adrian Leijer believes the Hyundai A-League is getting the final it deserves when his Victory side takes on Sydney on Saturday night and has spoken of the respect he holds for the Sky Blues ahead of the game.

Melbourne defender Adrian Leijer believes the Hyundai A-League is getting the final it deserves when his Victory side takes on Sydney on Saturday night and has spoken of the respect he holds for the Sky Blues ahead of the game.

Sydney and Melbourne have been the dominant teams for much of the season and when Gold Coast bowed out in the first week of the finals, it was apparent a first-ever grand final between the two major rivals was a strong possibility.

Leijer said there was a real buzz about the two biggest clubs in the league facing off in the biggest game of the year.

"It's great for the league and I wanted to play Sydney in the Grand Final because I think the league deserves it and the fans deserve it and it should be a fantastic occasion," Leijer, who returned to the Hyundai A-League earlier this season, said.

"It would be fair to say that both teams have been the best two teams of the year. Sydney has had a great year, we've had a great year and it's come down to the last game. It's a massive occasion, hopefully it's a packed house and a great night for everyone."

While Saturday's game will represent the fourth match between the teams in five weeks, Leijer said there is no sense of that familiarity turning into complacency.

"I wouldn't say we have them figured out. Both teams have played each other three or four times now. We know each other's games, we know what we are going to come up against. It's 90 minutes of football and strange things can happen. Let's just hope it goes our way."

Leijer's main task will be negating the influence of dynamic Sydney attacking pair Alex Brosque and Mark Bridge, who ran riot against the Wellington Phoenix last week.

He is well aware of how dangerous they can be, with Brosque and Bridge taking Melbourne apart when the teams met in October. But he feels he and fellow defenders Rody Vargas and Kevin Muscat are better prepared to cut them out of the game.

"It was 15 minutes of a game which was four months ago. A lot has changed since now and then and I think we are more than ready for them," he said.

"They are two good players. We've played against them a lot this season and I think we've coped alright. We'll just be going about it as we usually do and keeping an eye on them and giving them the respect they deserve."

But Leijer is also wary of youngster Chris Payne, who will step into the big shoes of John Aloisi this week. Payne scored two goals against the Phoenix in the Preliminary Final and Leijer sees him as an x-factor for the Sky Blues.

"I've only seen him on the TV a few times and he came on last week and did a great job. I think it's like every opponent, you have to show them some respect and we've got to be wary of him. He's come on and done a good job last week and he's one player we will be watching," he said.