Why Melbourne City will be A-League Men champions

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Melbourne City are already 2021-22 A-League Men premiers – here is why they will do the double and become back-to-back champions too.

City are just days away from commencing their finals campaign.

On Wednesday night they will take on Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium before the return leg in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.

City head into the finals series not only as premiers, but also as defending champions following last season’s romp to a grand final victory against Sydney FC.

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Although this season has already been a roaring success by most metrics for City, the final test presents itself over the concluding fortnight of the season.

Here are three reasons Patrick Kisnorbo’s side will outlast all of their competitors to reclaim their championship crown.

Attacking quality

The highlight of City’s premiership campaign has yet again been their relentlessly dangerous and clinical attacking play.

Whilst at times questions were asked of City’s defence, any shortcomings have been more than made up for by an ability to simply outscore their opponents.

City scored a league-best 55 goals in 2021/22, just two fewer than their tally from last season.

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Highlighted by Jamie Maclaren’s golden boot-winning 15 goals and orchestrated by Florin Berenguer’s midfield wizardry, few teams have been able to handle City’s firepower.

Adding to this is the depth that City possess going forward, with the likes of Andrew Nabbout, Mathew Leckie and Marco Tilio ensuring City always have plenty of quality in the final third.

Although much of City’s goal-scoring threat is reliant on transitional football which capitalises on opposition teams’ poor ball retention, the reality of the A-League Men is that City’s formula has reaped rewards time and time again.

City scored five goals in their two finals games last season, suggesting their attacking play will continue to hold up even under the pressure of finals.

Perhaps City will even benefit from the increased chaos of finals football, with more regular transitions offering fertile ground for City to score plenty of goals over the next two weeks.

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Fitness

City are notorious for their unmatched fitness in the A-League Men.

Kisnorbo demands remarkably high fitness levels and his side have reaped rewards over the course of this season.

City have been playing games every few days for months due to their various commitments both domestically and in the AFC Champions League.

The fact that City have not just survived their workload but in many ways thrived is testament to the supreme fitness levels throughout the squad.

Added to this is City’s high-pressing game style which is no doubt taxing for the players, yet City continue to consistently execute at a high level even at this late stage of the campaign.

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A squad filled with experienced campaigners has allowed City to run over the top of several of their younger opponents throughout their A-League Men campaign.

Considering the need to play a mid-week fixture in this year’s finals series, City will be confident that their ability to see out games with greater intensity will give them a major advantage in each of their finals outings.

Finals pedigree

Perhaps the most obvious argument for City to win the championship is the fact that they secured the premiership-championship double last season.

This team has proven they have what it takes to go all the way in the finals series, something which cannot be said for their main rivals with both Melbourne Victory and Western United finishing in the bottom three last time around.

City’s experience in dealing with the pressure of finals will give the playing group confidence, whilst coach Kisnorbo will undoubtedly feel even more prepared to navigate the next couple of weeks having done so successfully in 2021.

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Although this season’s finals format is slightly different from before with the two-legged semi-finals, City have proven both this season and last that they can continue to perform even in unfamiliar circumstances.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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