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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 May 2015
32 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 MAY 2015 SPORT Page 28 Levadiakos relegated Page 29 WADA blow: Essendon defi ant 9 771321 167062 Heading for penalties So equally matched, it looks like Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC are heading for a penalty shootout for the grand final win Stalemates are part of the Melbourne Victory Sydney FC history. Back in the 2010 grand final, where the two met, the match had to be decided in penalties after a 1-1 score. Five years later, and not much has changed. So far this season, draws are where it's stayed. A one 0-0 stalemate and two 3-3 draws between them has many wondering if 90 minutes will be enough to decide a winner. The season has shown some signs of who might come out on top. Victory rightfully snatched the Premier's Plate, but had to wait until the very last minute to know that they had done enough. Sydney FC was threatening them till the end. Both are on four match winning streaks, and both have seen similar revivals under new coaches. Victory midfielder Carl Valeri has predicted Sunday's match won't be won with tried and tested tactics, but by the player battles. "It's the team that's willing to work the hardest, the team with the most desire normally gets you through it," he said. "It doesn't matter what you do tactically or any strategies, it's just down to battles." Sydney FC's coach Graham Arnold has transformed the Sky Blues this season, moulding a team worthy of standing on its own without Italian giant Alessandro Del Piero. Kevin Muscat has done the same but at a more measured pace, taking over from Socceroos coach Ange Postecogou. In typical Arnold fashion, he's been vocal in the media this week, hoping to psych out Muscat before the big day. Showing modesty isn't his forte. He's been touting Sydney FC as the grand final winners for some time and was at it again this week. "We've sent a message that I've been saying since January that we're the best team in the league," Arnold said. "Since the Asian Cup that's 41 goals in 16 games. We're getting better and better." Muscat, on the other hand, has been trying to keep a tight lip on proceedings, hoping that brushing off the comments and sticking to a strong state of mind will rub off on his players. He's desperate to keep the players in line, hoping the fact that they are favourites to win won't sway their preparation. "You can't try to convince people that it's just another game, it's simply not," Muscat said. "Last week, the fact it was Melbourne City ... that lead up seemed like a grand final. "It's going to be an unbelievable night and one we've prepared for." He knows that the likes of Besart Berisha, Kostas Barbarouses and Archie Thompson will be Sydney FC's first point of call in disarming Victory. Berisha has been integral in earning Victory's phenomenal run this season, and all eyes will be on him to bring the silverware to the Navy Blues. Melbourne Victory take on Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Sunday May 17, kick off at 4.00 pm. Goal machine Besart Berisha could be bringing a championship to Melbourne Victory. PHOTO: AAP/JOE CASTRO. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 Sydney FC players in training ahead of the Sunday grand final. PHOTO: AAP/DAN HIMBRECHTS. Three Greeks on the pitch Kostas Barbar bar final. PHOTO l. scorred an goal in the City semiT AAP/ DADSW MAR S extraor l in the bourne Melbourne semi- y Antonis, Kostas Barbarouses and Jesse Ma y Makarounas will feature in the A-League grand final Greek Australian Gree ootball fans will be proud to see three players with Greek heritage hit the pitch at the A-League final, comforted w that our community's legacy to the sport es on. Selecte ootball fans w heritage hit A-League f w th nity's lega es Selected in the squad or Melb or Melbourne Victory will be Makarounas. d i will be winger Kostas Barbar Barbarouses and promoted moted player Jesse Makar Sydney FC will have Terry Antonis in its ranks, who fantastically came off the bench with 30 minutes to go in the Sky Blue's semi-final win against Adelaide United. His return to the team is a long time coming, after a shaky season of ups and downs. A few months ago at a high point, he was picked to be a part of the Socceroos squad at the Asian Cup. But his tough training regime for the Socceroos left him with niggling injuries. Even worse, his replacements at the Sky Blues, Mic- kael Tavares and back up Rhyan Grant were performing amazingly in his absence. Antonis was thinking he might never get another shot before the finals. Thankfully, he was smart about his recovery, and silently but surely got back into coach Graham Arnold's line of sight. "I didn't want to push it, just in case it got worse," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was good to come back and it's happened just in the nick of time." While he isn't picked to start for Sydney FC at the grand final, he'll be warming up on the side ready to pounce when it matters. Against him will be Kostas Barbarouses, a Melbourne Victory favourite, and a unique route to goal for coach Kevin Muscat. The Kiwi national has scored five goals for the team, and showed he's got the grand final chops at the Melbourne City semi-final last week, scoring an extraordinary high goal 30 minutes in. While his form hasn't been as constant as he'd like, Barbarouses has had lots of experience against Sydney FC. In some of the most equally-matched games the whole season, the final might have to head to penalties. "We've had some very tough match-ups where nothing has really separated us," Barbarouses said this week. "It's going to be a very interesting game but hopefully we can put our authority on the game early and go from there." As for youngster Jesse Makarounas, his promotion to the grand final match is a dream come true. Playing nine matches this season, the midfielder has made an impression, and with Kevin Muscat searching his squad for fresh blood during extra matches like for the AFC Champions League, Makarounas has been an easy pick.
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