Western United will play in its first ever Isuzu UTE A-League Men Grand Final, taking on Melbourne City in the decider at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Melbourne City vs Western United
Saturday, 28 May
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEST
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Channel 10 and Paramount+
The Road to the Grand Final
Western United and Melbourne City have been competing at the top of the table for the entire season, with the race for top spot in the league going right down to the wire.
A tame end to the campaign meant that United ended up in third place and had to go the distance in the A-League Men Finals Series.
The journey began with an Elimination Final earlier in May, where a cracking Aleksandar Prijovic goal helped the Green and Black to a tight 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix.
John Aloisi’s side was then drawn in a mouth-watering semi-final tie against Melbourne Victory, who pinched the first leg 1-0 last Tuesday.
But Western United, as it has done all season, stepped up when it had to in the return fixture, securing a stunning 4-1 victory on the night and advancing to the Club’s first ever A-League Men Grand Final.
The occasion will be a memorable and historic one for Western United, but one full of hope and desire to create one last magical moment on the pitch.
Melbourne City ended up lifting the Premier’s Plate at the end of the regular season, earning a week off for the first week of Finals.
A 0-0 draw in the semi-final first leg away against Adelaide United set up a do-or-die second leg at AAMI Park which saw the Reds take the lead against City.
But Patrick Kisnorbo’s side turned it around with Marco Tilio’s equaliser before Jamie Maclaren struck early in extra-time to book City’s spot in a third straight A-League Men Grand Final.
Western United carries into this fixture a strong run of form against Melbourne City of late, going unbeaten against the Premiers this season.
Aloisi’s side claimed two separate 1-0 wins over City early on in the season before a thrilling 2-2 draw between the sides in March.
That makes United unbeaten against City in the last four meetings with three wins in that time, but prior to that City had won all five clashes between the two teams.
Aloisi confirmed that Lustica has shaken off any fears of a reinjury to his calf, declaring the No.10 fit for the match after he was substituted not long after coming onto the pitch in last week’s semi-final second leg.
The United boss also said Adisu Bayew will be in contention to make the matchday squad for the first time in the Finals, while reporting no fresh injury or fitness concerns within his squad.
What John Aloisi is saying
On what it would mean for the Club to win its first piece of silverware
“We know it’ll be massive for us. It’s already an achievement what we’re doing at the moment, and being here, but we want to win obviously and I’m sure City have got the same ideas.
“We want to write history for our Club, we want to be the first team to win a trophy. All these players that have come in, and the players that were already there from day one, they want to create history with this football club and we’ve got an opportunity for it.”
On the influence Alessandro Diamanti and Nikolai Topor-Stanley can still have on the group
“They’re still a big part of our team and our preparations, because they can bring their own stories they can bring their own experiences to the playing group and relax them in certain situations.
“For us its about being calm and knowing our roles. Nikolai and Dia have done that really well in the last couple of games, against Victory and against Wellington.”
On the prospect of facing a City side full of confidence and quality
“We have to play well, but we will, we’ll be ready. We’ll go at them and we’re confident that we can match them. We’ll work for each other like we have all season.
“They’re a quality side with great players up top as we know, but our players are prepared to match them in terms of their individual battles, but also as a group.”