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Victory plan for A-League GF fright night

NZN 5/05/2017 Ben McKay

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat believes the semi-final performance of his A-League club should scare grand final opponents Sydney FC.

It's why he's almost certain to turn to the same starting XI that defeated Brisbane to reach Sunday's showpiece match.

"I think the closest performance to what we saw last week was two years ago in the grand final," Muscat said on Friday, referring to the club's last championship success - which came against Sydney FC.

"There's a strong case for (an unchanged line-up) after last week.

"I thought there was some question marks leading in to the game ... I think those questions were answered."

Muscat fully expects Victory - who finished 17 points behind Sydney FC after the regular season - to mount a serious challenge to the Sky Blues.

"There's an unbelievable belief in the playing group," Muscat said.

"One thing is obvious to anyone. At our best, people are afraid."

Because of Sydney's record-smashing season, Victory will arrive at Allianz Stadium as the clear underdogs.

It's not a position the A-League's super club is used to but it's one Muscat is relishing, by attacking "cheerleaders across the border ... trying to place some doubt in our minds".

"It's very Sydney centric isn't it this competition? It feels like it's us against the nation," he said.

"It's great. Just the way I like it.

"We've got nothing to be afraid of because it's where we wanted to be.

"It's where we expect to be. There's nothing to be afraid of now we are here."

One commentator - former Socceroos attacker Robbie Slater - caught Muscat's ire for suggesting his club needed new tactics to defeat Sydney FC after three home-and-away defeats.

"Robbie couldn't have been holding a microphone as he said that because he would have had to drop his pom-poms," Muscat told the Victory in Business lunch on Friday.

"I'm accusing him of being a cheerleader.

"In fact, I'm not accusing him, it's fact. That's fine.

"The rest of the country has put us in that position and, I'm pretty sure, every time we've responded."

Should Victory field an unchanged lineup as expected, the biggest losers will be Nick Ansell and Mitch Austin.

Ansell - who started in the club's 2015 grand final win - and James Donachie have competed for the central defensive role alongside Alan Baro all season.

Donachie has been preferred for the past month.

Ex-Central Coast winger Austin enjoyed a strong start to the season but has been relegated to the bench by a resurgent Fahid Ben Khalfallah.

The former Tunisia international has grown in confidence after overcoming a mid-season contractual stand-off and Sunday's match will be his last for the club.

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