The A-League title goes on the line at Optus Stadium, where Sydney FC face hometown heroes Perth Glory.
On their last-out form, there can be only one winner of today’s A-League grand final, and it isn’t hometown favourites Perth Glory.
Tony Popovic’s Glory host Sydney FC in the season decider at Optus Stadium tonight, where more than 53,000 fans will pack in to witness the latest crowning of the Australian champions.
Just how both sides respond to their contrasting semi-final performances will be fascinating.
Sydney FC eviscerated Melbourne Victory last Sunday night, becoming the first A-League team to put six goals past the competition powerhouses in one of the club’s most memorable nights.
There were goals too in Perth’s triumph over Adelaide United; far too many for Popovic’s liking.
Glory were leading 2-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining before conceding two late goals to take the match to extra time.
In extra time, that fate repeated before an eventual triumph on penalties.
While premiership-winning coaches might have despaired to see their team buckle in the semi-final, Popovic said he saw a team show its resolve.
“The players have grown in their mental strength. Throughout the year, they’ve embraced every challenge,” he said.
“A lot has been spoken about Adelaide’s mental strength to stay in the game and I acknowledge that as well. But we forget the strength that we showed.
“To lead and to concede so late, many a team have fallen apart.
“To hit the lead again, there’s another opportunity to fall apart, and likewise in the penalties.
“I saw something in the group there that convinced me that we are ready for any challenge tomorrow, regardless what happens.
“I’m sure we can overcome every hurdle now.
“I anticipate a fantastic performance from our team. We’re ready for this and I know last week helped us.”
Like his Perth counterpart, Steve Corica saw plenty he liked in his side’s 6-1 win.
And with the benefit of two victories already against Perth this season – both home and away – Corica is embracing the challenge of upsetting the home crowd.
“We’ve done all the homework, we’ve played them three times before,” he said.
“It comes down to the grand final as a one-off game and like I said who handles it the occasion the best.
“They’ve played in big occasions before. We’ve had big derby games against the Wanderers with big crowds.
“There’s going to be a few tackles flying in and it will be a very aggressive game.
“Our boys have been there, done that before. It’s about just making sure you’re calm when you get out on that field.”
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