Victory savvier in Asia, says ex star

Former defender Rodrigo Vargas believes the current Melbourne Victory side may have found the right formula for success in Asia.

He was part of a couple of failed AFC Champions League campaigns but former defender Rodrigo Vargas believes the current Melbourne Victory side may have found the right formula for success in Asia.

Kevin Muscat's side face a crucial away clash against J-League club Yokohama F. Marinos on Wednesday night, in a fixture that could go a long way to deciding their hopes of progression to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Victory is currently third on goal difference in Group G alongside Jeonbuk Motors but could leapfrog the Koreans with a positive result in Yokohama.

Vargas, who played 140 matches in a six-year stint at the club, has been keeping a close eye on the club's fortunes both in the A-League and ACL.

And he believes the club have learned the mistakes of the past in the ACL and is adamant they have the balance right to trouble the highly-fancied Asian teams.

"Victory have always had very attacking sides but if anything, Kevin (Muscat) has been there as a player and now as a coach in the ACL for a number of years so I'd like to think he's learnt that it's a different style of game," Vargas told

"You can't approach it as like an A-League game. I remember when I played in the Champions League we employed the same game and tactics we had in the A-League.

"It was always all-out attack but I think Victory are much more savvy in this day and age. Sometimes a draw in Asia in an away game is good enough, it's not always looking to go out for the win.

"Tactically they are much more aware and I think (Muscat) will know sometimes holding on (for a draw) might be good enough because in the past we have always wanted to go on and win and its cost us."

The Victory's depth will be tested for the huge clash in Japan, with six players left behind when the squad flew out on Monday.

Skipper Mark Milligan (knee), Tom Rogic (groin), Adama Traore (leg), Nick Ansell (rested), Pablo Contreras and Kostas Barbarouses (both suspended) are all unavailable in a huge blow to their hopes of a result.

While Vargas said he expects the Victory to be forced to absorb a lot of pressure against Yokohama, he believes there is now greater steel to their defence.

"For me that's always been the key for Melbourne Victory. If they can sure up the backline they are always going to score goals," the twice capped Socceroos defender said.

"I went to the last game (against Yokohama) and they were under the pump for the majority of the game but did well to hold out.

"It's hard at the moment, they have to rotate their squad coming up to finals but you look at whenever the young boys have come in they have done a great job.

"It's great to see Ado (Leijer) back, he's playing well and I think they are starting to get things right defensively. I think they are matching it with the best in Asia at the moment."

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