Newcastle Jets or Melbourne Victory: Who will win the A-League grand final?

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It stands to be a special grand final in Newcastle, but is it the Jets or Victory that'll be crowned champions?

Ahead of a blockbuster A-League grand final, Goal debates whether it will be Newcastle Jets or Melbourne Victory that leave McDonald Jones Stadium as winners on Saturday night. 

Why the Newcastle Jets will be A-League champions

The fairytale is being written, but there's still one final chapter to go and the Jets are in a position to ensure a very happy ending to an extraordinary season.

Their journey from wooden spooners to potential champions hasn't been an easy one with injuries and the mid-season departure of Andrew Nabbout ensuring Newcastle's ascent hasn't always been smooth.

But this side's sheer ability to rise above those issues is what has set them apart this A-League season and puts them in the box seat for a championship.

Though the loss of Jack Duncan in goals can't be overlooked, the Jets know how to adapt quickly and with 30,000 Newcastle fans cheering them on, they'll be more than compensated for it.

As far as home ground advantages go, a sell-out McDonald Jones Stadium is as good as it gets for the Jets.

With 19,000 cheering them on against Melbourne City in the semi-final, an extra 11,000 is a pretty scary prospect.

Once Riley McGree's scorpion somehow found the back of the net, the crowd ensured there was only ever going to be one result as they lifted their side to a 2-1 win.

Riley McGree Newcastle Jets

As 19,000 screamed their throats out last Friday, Jets coach Ernie Merrick was his usual reserved self - not even flinching when McGree's goal went in.

It's this calculated coolness that will also prove vital for Newcastle on Saturday against a Victory side that is capable of losing their heads.

Losing is something Victory have developed a nasty habit of at the grand final venue winning just three of their 19 games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Add to that Victory's loss of star centre back Rhys Williams and the toll of an extra time semi-final, and Newcastle's season is set up for a fairytale finish.

 

Predicted score: Newcastle Jets 3-1 Melbourne Victory

- Josh Thomas

Why Melbourne Victory will be A-League champions

Melbourne Victory will simply get the job done on Saturday night.

They haven't been the best team in the A-League this campaign, but when it counts, Kevin Muscat's side have stood up and they will do so again in front of a parochial Newcastle Jets crowd.

The resilience shown by Melbourne Victory over the past month is extraordinary.

In three of their past four A-League matches, they have scored the winner after the 87th minute - and that's including two knockout finals against Adelaide United and Sydney FC.

The team is littered with experienced players who have produced at big moments in their career.

Besart Berisha had scored in seven consecutive finals up until last Saturday night - but still grabbed a rare assist to have a strong influence on the victory against the Sky Blues.

Besart Berisha Melbourne Victory

The Albanian is among five A-League championship-winning Victory players, including Carl Valeri, Kosta Barbarouses, Leigh Broxham and Lawrence Thomas, who all started in the club's 2014-15 grand final triumph over Sydney FC.

James Troisi has scored the winning goal for his country in an Asian Cup final, while we all saw Terry Antonis' big-game qualities with his extra-time strike last weekend.

On the other hand, Newcastle have two championship winners in Daniel Georgievski (Melbourne Victory) and Dimi Petratos (Brisbane Roar) - we won't include Jason Hoffman's first stint at the Jets because he barely played.

It must also be mentioned that Nikolai Topor Stanley lifted the Asian Champions League trophy with Western Sydney Wanderers.

The experience Victory hold will be crucial in the big moments of the match and will cancel out the home ground advantage held by the Jets.

Both teams have used an attacking style of play this season. The Jets like to press their opponents up the field while Victory are keen to leave their front three of Leroy George, Berisha and Barbarouses high up the pitch.

Victory love when teams attack them to leave space down the flanks, and Newcastle's high defensive line will allow plenty of room for George and Barbarouses to exploit on the wings.

While Muscat's team haven't kept a clean sheet in the league since February, the Jets have conceded 13 goals in their last five matches and will be ripe for the picking by a hungry Victory attack.

It's going to be a cracking grand final but unfortunately the Newcastle fairytale isn't going to eventuate.

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Predicted score: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Newcastle Jets

- Kieran Francis

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