A-League Rev-Up: Why Sydney FC need to get one-up on Melbourne Victory

Adam Le Fondre Sydney FC
Two of the A-League's biggest clubs duke it out in a hugely important match with finals looming

One of the A-League's marquee fixtures will be played on Saturday night as Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory battle for an edge ahead of a likely finals meeting.

Melbourne City need to respond against Brisbane Roar after hitting a low last week against Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets battle to keep their slim post-season hopes alive.

Get revved-up, a huge round of A-League awaits...

Sky Blues need to halt Victory momentum

Siem De Jong Sydney FC

For 18 months, Sydney FC had the measure of Melbourne Victory with an incredible seven straight wins in the fixture, including the penalty shootout victory in the 2016-17 A-League grand final.

But now the momentum has shifted - with Victory winning the last three fixtures - including the amazing extra-time victory in last season's semi-final.

With only four rounds to play this season, Saturday night's Big Blue at the SCG not only has huge implications for which of the teams will finish second but also confidence heading into a probable knockout final between the two.

The Sky Blues are currently ahead of Victory on the table by one point but you would say the Melbourne side has produced the better football at times throughout the campaign.

However, things seem to be falling into place for a Sky Blues assault on the championship, with star marquee Siem de Jong finally fit and scoring goals, while Josh Brillante's failed move to Korea means their midfield axis, along with Brandon O'Neill, is still strong.

Victory are coming off a 2-0 win against league leaders Perth Glory last weekend, but will know they didn't perform brilliantly and will be under the pump if they put in a similar performance against the Sky Blues.

A win to either side will give them a huge advantage in the battle to finish second but also a likely mental edge in any finals encounter.

You feel as if these two teams are destined to meet each other in a knockout final at some stage and gaining any momentum on their rival will be crucial.

Will Ernie's reverse psychology work on the Jets?

Ernie Merrick Newcastle Jets

It's not often you hear a coach write off their team's finals chances but that's exactly what Ernie Merrick did during the week when talking about his Newcastle Jets.

"I don't think we are going to make the finals and we're very disappointed by that," Merrick said.

"When you're in a situation when you are waiting for teams to lose matches, I don't think you are in a good place. 

"I can't see anyone losing two more games than us." 

It's an interesting statement by Merrick ahead of Saturday's match with the Wanderers and could be a ploy to fire up his team for the remainder of the season.

The Jets are seven points behind Melbourne City with four games to play, but surely they don't believe Warren Joyce's struggling team are going to collect 12 points to finish the campaign.

Adelaide United, who are a further point ahead of City, are also out-of-form since the announcement of Marco Kurz's departure.

After the Wanderers game, the Jets travel to Perth and Brisbane before finishing with a home match against Sydney FC.

Four victories from four matches could be enough to get them into the finals with the wobbles by City and Adelaide, but does Merrick believe his team are good enough to win every game from here?

Now or never for Melbourne City

  Warren Joyce Melbourne City

On paper, Melbourne City have a squad that should be challenging for silverware, with arguably the league's best defender in Bart Schenkeveld and prolific striker Jamie Maclaren leading the line.

But Warren Joyce's side have meandered through the season with inconsistent performances and hit their biggest low with a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.

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All is not lost for City this season - Melbourne Victory showed a team outside the top two can win the championship last campaign - but they need to start putting together some good performances, starting with Friday night's match against Brisbane Roar.

The Roar are still without a coach and have lost their last three games - conceding nine goals along the way.

This match is a chance for City to get a confidence-boosting win and set up an unlikely charge for a silverware, with their performances from now likely to be a huge factor in the future of Joyce at the club.