21/02/2024

Bruno Fornaroli returns to action after a five-week layoff. (Photo: Melbourne Victory X)

As the only club still undefeated in the A-League Men this season, Melbourne Victory will be feeling disappointed that they only have third place to show for it.

Four consecutive 1-1 draws have the club sitting with the most ties (9) in the competition over 15 games, perhaps highlighting a killer instinct issue.

Good to be home

Victory will return to AAMI Park in front of the navy blue faithful after experiencing four road trips in the last five outings when they prepare to take on Macarthur.

Coach Tony Popovic is looking forward to the home support which he hopes will help turn one point into three points as he faced the media today.

“We’re happy to be home,” Popovic said.

“We’ve travelled a lot in the last four to five weeks, so we’re pleased to be back at AAMI Park in front of our fans.

“We know it will be a tough game, but we go in confident and we want to turn these draws we’re having into a win.”

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Mentality in key moments

There is little doubt that Victory has produced an entertaining brand of football this season – the question is whether they have the right mentality to cope for 90 minutes.

Popovic believes that his players are still growing in this regard, with the final minutes of tomorrow’s clash a massive focus.

“It’s hard to fault the players. We’ve been leading in these last run of draws up until the last few minutes away from home in most of those games,” he said.

“It shows that we’re doing a lot of things well. There are always things to do better and we feel we’re growing as a team.

“We have to believe that we’re good enough to see the game out at the end. I don’t mean sitting back and hoping to get the result, [but] to play our game better in that last 10 to 15 minutes.”

Fornaroli returns

Setting the league on fire with 13 goals in 10 appearances this term, Bruno Fornaroli is having the season of his life.

At 36, the Uruguayan-born Australian has proven that age is just a number and is reaping the rewards from Popovic’s system.

Forced to miss the previous five games due to international duty with the Socceroos at the Asian Cup, his manager is relieved to have his main centre-forward available again.

“Delighted to see him [Fornaroli] back,” said Popovic. “We expected him to be away another week in all honesty – and probably should’ve been when you watch that game against Korea.

“We’ve already seen what he brings to training since his back [with] his passion, his energy. He loves this club and he’s excited to be among the players.

“We know what he’ll bring us on the field but also his leadership. I think it gives a lot of the players around him confidence.”

Fornaroli will be aiming to pull away in the race for the A-League Men’s Golden Boot – leading the pack ahead of Apostolos Stamatelopoulos by two goals.

Macarthur test awaits

Led by the brilliance of Ulises Dávila, Macarthur will aim to extend their unbeaten run to seven games and leapfrog their upcoming opponent into third on the table.

The pair played out a 1-1 draw in Campbelltown at the end of November as Popovic expects a tough test tomorrow evening.

“[Macarthur are a] tough team to beat, they’re proving that,” Popovic admitted.

“[They’re] very dangerous in transition with their wingers. With Germain and Dávila they have the experience centrally and they keep getting the results.

“They’ll come here I’m sure with confidence to get a result [and] we have to be aware of the danger they possess, but I’m more looking forward to seeing us improve our performance.”

Kick-off commences Saturday at 5:30pm at AAMI Park and will be streamed live on Paramount Plus.

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