Muscat keen to tighten Victory's defence

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The former Socceroos full-back has claimed his team have conceded too many goals from "comfortable situations" in 2016-17

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat is concerned with his side's lack of defensive concentration ahead of Saturday's A-League clash with Perth Glory.

Victory's tilt at the Premier's Plate effectively came to an end last week with a 1-0 loss to Sydney FC that underlined a sense of inconsistency that has been nagging at Muscat this season.

In all three losses to the Sky Blues in 2016-17, Victory have conceded goals where they failed to clear the ball in a relatively simple situation.

In Round 5, David Carney equalised for Sydney after Victory's Stefan Nigro got stuck under a cross, having lost track of his opponent.

In Round 17, Sydney's winner came from a long ball down the middle that eventually fell to Bernie Ibini, who barged his way between Alan Baro and Leigh Broxham to score.

Last week, James Donachie failed to clear effectively in the lead-up to Bobo's goal, while the Brazilian was left alone by Jason Geria.

Melbourne Victory - Perth Glory Preview

With bogey-side Perth on their way to AAMI Park on Saturday night - Glory haven't lost to Victory in the A-League in just under three years - Muscat confirmed he has been focusing on how to improve the Big V's defence.

"If you look at those goals, it's not as if we're getting carved open... it's that concentration, those moments in time because you look at last week's goal and [Josh] Brillante's got the ball in his own half, seemingly no danger, and then all of a sudden we have one opportunity to clear it, a second opportunity to clear it and a cross comes in and we're not picking up in the box," Muscat said on Friday.

"So it's not as if we're getting carved open."

Sydney FC 1 Melbourne Victory 0

Victory's boss added: "It's not really a big skill set you need to be dealing with these situations. It's a mindset and an attitude and an awareness of what's going on around you."

In a boost for the A-League's second-placed side, Baro - who missed the Big Blue through illness last week - will come back into Victory's starting XI against Perth.

Muscat insists Victory's performances against Glory this term have been impressive and should have resulted in two wins rather than a draw and a loss.

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"The only thing that I'd like to change is that we perform to our capabilities for longer," he said.

"This season it hasn't really happened often enough where we've performed to our level for 90 minutes."

If Victory can secure three points against Glory, they will have a 12-point gap over the rest of the competition, putting them one win away from ensuring they finish second this season.

 

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