Victory coach wary ahead of Brisbane blockbuster

Melbourne Victory are well aware of “what’s at stake” against Brisbane Roar on Saturday night, as the Hyundai A-League’s top seven jostle for position ahead of the finals.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat declared there’s “certainly something to gain” from a win away to Roar, with the reigning champions sitting fifth in the table with 33 points – one of six teams within nine points of leaders Adelaide United.

Hyundai A-League preview: Roar v Victory

Brisbane Roar's Henrique and Melbourne Victory's Oliver Boazanic.

Brisbane (third, 38 points) versus Victory is one of two matches where top-six sides will clash in Round 23, with Adelaide (39) hosting Melbourne City (fourth, 35) on Friday night.

Sixth-placed Perth Glory (31) and seventh-placed Sydney FC (30) will be expected to win when they host the bottom two clubs on Saturday, while second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers (38) visit Newcastle Jets on Sunday.

It sets up the weekend for plenty of movement in the table, with Victory having a chance to leapfrog City with a win but also potentially fall below Perth and Sydney if they lose in Queensland.

“There’s certainly something to gain from a positive result tomorrow night,” Muscat said on Friday.

“But again, you accept that but you don’t dwell on it and think about it too much because there are far more important things to concentrate on – and the performance is that.

“We’ve had a very good week; the opportunity to get the boys back and spend some time with their families, and training yesterday was very bright. 

“I think everyone’s at a point now where they understand what’s at stake.”

Coach Kevin Muscat casts his eye over Melbourne Victory training.

After a busy period with five games in 17 games – including two AFC Champions League matches – Muscat had the opportunity to give his players a bit more rest this week ahead of their trip to Brisbane.

It has ensured midfielder Oliver Bozanic has recovered from the concussion he suffered in Victory’s 2-0 win away to Central Coast Mariners last week. 

But centre-back Nick Ansell remains out of the squad for the second game in a row due to soreness in his quadriceps.

“He pulled up a little bit sore after the game in Japan [against Gamba Osaka on March 2] and he still hasn’t recovered from that and we’ll obviously take the precaution that’s needed with him, considering the length of time that he’s been out this season,” Muscat said.

Ansell has played seven A-League matches since coming back from a long-term knee injury that he suffered last season.

Saturday’s match at Suncorp Stadium will be goalkeeper Danny Vukovic’s 250th in the A-League, with the 30-year-old becoming the first player to reach that milestone.

While Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo has been the most successful A-League goalkeeper in terms of silverware, Muscat argued that Vukovic should be rated just as highly.

“He [Vukovic] certainly has been the most consistent goalkeeper throughout the competition so far, and he’s certainly got a lot of football left in him,” the coach said.

“He’s got a massive desire to be successful and win trophies.”