Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has vowed to go for the throat of Sydney FC in their A-League finals blockbuster.
The two biggest clubs in the A-League open the finals series at Etihad Stadium on Good Friday night, with both managers vying for their footballing futures.
For Sydney FC boss Frank Farina, a win could be essential to keeping his job next season.
And for Muscat, success would keep alive his ambitious board’s minimum requirement for each season: Asian Champions League (ACL) qualification.
Bolstered by the biggest win of his fledgling coaching career, a 2-0 win over Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday night, Muscat said his side were prepared to inflict a lethal strike on Farina’s men.
“Melbourne loves a big occasion and this is as big as they come for us,” he said.
“The Victory fans that come out won’t be disappointed, they’ll see an attack-minded performance.
“We’re really going to go for the jugular and put them under as much pressure as possible.”
The truth is, Victory know no other way.
Their attacking mentality within a 4-2-2-2 framework has given rise to the league’s longest run without a clean sheet – 17 matches dating back to December.
In a blow for Muscat’s chances of ending that streak, Adrian Leijer has been ruled out with a knock to the foot in his ACL match, joining Tom Rogic on the sidelines.
For Sydney, Farina hopes to have Ranko Despotovic available following a knee knock.
But if Victory have outlined their intentions, then which Sydney FC will arrive at Etihad Stadium – the expansive side which punished Victory 5-0 on Australia Day or the combative defenders that held Victory at bay three weeks ago?
Muscat wasn’t expecting many surprises, preferring to push his side’s own case.
“At this stage of the season, teams aren’t going to change dramatically just for finals,” Muscat said.
“Our last two performances have been very, very good. We’ve timed our run perfectly.”
With one side exiting the finals on the final whistle, eyes will also turn to the future of Alessandro Del Piero.
The imperious Italian masterminded Victory’s demise on their last visit to the Docklands venue but is uncontracted for next season.