Melbourne Victory look to first W-League title

Melbourne Victory will cap off a stellar season with their first ever Grand Final appearance this Sunday.

Melbourne Victory will cap off a stellar season with their first ever Grand Final appearance this Sunday.

The Victory would love nothing more than to win the Westfield W-League championship after a season that threatened to be derailed after the sudden departure of coach Mike Mulvey to the top job at Brisbane’s Hyundai A-League side in December. But they’ve since stabilised under Fabrizio Soncin to become one of the league’s most consistent performers.

Their opposition, Sydney FC, are no strangers to finals football, but thanks to a superior third-place finish, it’s the Victory who have earned themselves the home ground advantage – or, rather, home city advantage, with the game being moved to AAMI Park from their usual stomping ground Wembley Park. But captain Stephanie Catley believes the venue will still work in their favour.

“Obviously the home ground advantage is amazing because we’ve got our home fans, so hopefully we can get a lot of support down there and make sure that we use the advantage to the best of our ability,” she says.

Melbourne Victory are currently on an unprecedented seven-game unbeaten streak, though their form has stagnated somewhat in recent weeks with a 3-3 draw against the struggling Newcastle Jets and a tight finish on penalties last week against Perth Glory.

Working in their favour, however, will be the knowledge that their previous meetings with Sydney FC this season have resulted in a win and a draw.

“In other seasons we’ve never actually beaten Sydney so we’re feeling pretty good about that,” says Catley. “Although in finals, especially in Grand Finals, it’s just the two teams on the day and anything can happen, so we’ll make sure we have a really good week at training and make sure we’re prepared.”

As seen in their semi-final triumph, the Sky Blues are not short on firepower up front. While they will be without the services of Emma Kete as she serves a heartbreaking one game ban, Catley remains aware of the need to nullify their attacking threats.

“We’ve played them twice and we sort of know how they play but obviously they’ve got a lot of pace coming down the wings and Sam Kerr’s playing really well at the moment so we’ll be looking at their attacking flair.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory will look to benefit from the continuity of an unchanged lineup with no injuries or tactical changes to report.

“We all recovered really well,” says Catley. “We’ve had a few recovery sessions and had a few massages and all that and everyone’s looking good.”

Melbourne Victory take on Sydney FC in the Grand Final of the Westfield W-League this Sunday, January 27. To purchase tickets visit Ticketek. The match will be shown live on ABC1 at 3.30pm.