Victory heat up for finals

Melbourne has been using this week's heatwave to steel its players for battle ahead of Saturday week's first leg of the Major Semi-final against Adelaide.

Melbourne has been using this week's heatwave to steel its players for battle ahead of Saturday week's first leg of the Major Semi-final against Adelaide.

With a break in the A-League schedule this week and temperatures in the 40s across much of southern Australia, you might think that the finals combatants would ease off on their players. But coach Ernie Merrick said the hot weather gave his players a chance to get used to conditions which they might meet in the final series.

Two years ago, the Melbourne-Adelaide Grand Final was played on a day when the temperature nudged 40 degrees and given that recovery from training sessions is not such a priority on a bye week, Merrick said this was the ideal time for his players to test themselves out in the extreme conditions.

"It's been a deliberate strategy. We're deliberately having short sharp sessions with lots of fluids, because there is a physiological acclimatisation effect that our sports scientist and strength and conditioning coaches are working on," he revealed at training on Thursday.

"They'll go to the gym now and work for another half an hour in easier conditions."

While both the Major Semi-Final legs will be played in the evening, Melbourne is conscious of how hot the weather can get at this time of year in both Adelaide and Melbourne.

Temperatures in the City of Churches are expected to remain in the high 30s until late next week, while Victoria isn't expected to cool down until at least this Sunday.

But having put most of his players through a tough workout this week - the remainder have been in Jakrata with the Socceroos - Merrick said he will then taper off the physical workload in the lead up to the first match.

"This week has been pretty tough for both the boys here and the boys in Jakarta. We'll start to ease off on Tuesday, taper off and work hard on the strategy of the game. We'll reduce the volume and work more on strategy or technical work."

Merrick was pleased with how his players performed in the 0-0 draw with Indonesia. Danny Allsopp, Tom Pondeljak, Archie Thompson, Billy Celeski and Rody Vargas all saw game time, while Michael Theoklitos sat on the bench.

"Everyone would be happy with the outcome. They were very difficult conditions, but that's what international football is about. You are put in pressure situations and fatigue, and different environmental conditions," he said.

He doesn't expect any of the Victory six to return with any injuries. Arriving on Thursday night, they will be given the weekend off and will return to training on Monday. Vargas was felled after a collision with the Indonesian keeper during the match, but Merrick wasn't concerned.

"Rody does that a couple of times a game," he joked. "The boys are really resilient and tough, Rody and Kevin (Muscat) are the only two players to play 21 games. He's a tough character. He'll be fine."