Melbourne Victory defender Jason Geria says grand final appearances are the bare minimum expectation at the club as the Canberra export guns for his second A-League crown in as many years.
Victory face a red-hot Sydney FC in a rematch of the decider that Geria’s men won in Melbourne two years ago and the visitors are preparing an ambush in the harbour city.
The Sky Blues have put together the best season in A-League history, dropping just one game en route to the most competition points ever accumulated, but the gloss of those unprecedented statistics will be washed off with a loss on Sunday.
There was daylight between the clubs in the regular season with Victory finishing 17 points behind Sydney, but Geria said the gap is far closer than the ladder suggests.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and can say what they please but we know what we can do and know if we execute to the best of our ability we’re very hard to stop,” Geria said.
“Against Brisbane [last week] was as very good performance and we’re going into Sunday with pretty much the same mindset of imposing our game plan and pressing and keeping the game moving and looking to score goals.
“We showed how dangerous and hard to stop we are when we play like that so we’ll be looking to do that again and if we can it should be a pretty special game for us.”
The 23-year-old said nerves won’t be a factor in the biggest game of the year because the team expected to be there from the first day of preseason.
“In preseason we said grand final and championship and now we’re here so we’re setting out to do what we originally planned,” Geria said.
“I feel privileged this is the second one I am involved in but at Melbourne Victory we set our standards pretty high and grand finals and championships are the standard for us.”
After being named in the starting XI Geria will earn more than the two minutes he tasted in Victory’s 2015 title win, but said victory on Sunday would be a reflection of nine months work, not 90 minutes.
“The last final I didn’t get too much time but regardless if you do play a lot or not the feeling of winning a championship is for everyone. The team the staff, the supporters, everyone is included and that overrides how much involvement you actually have on the pitch,” Geria said.
“My main priority is getting the job done and winning the championship and the team comes before the individual, whatever role you need to play you do it.”
The clash represents the latest chapter in a storied rivalry between the clubs and Geria is expecting nothing short of fireworks as he looks to spoil Sydney’s party and shut down the Sky Blues gun midfielder and skipper Alex Brosque.
“It’s probably the oldest one [rivalry] in the league since its inception. Games against them are always pretty intense and it’s another Big Blue grand final like we had two years ago,” Geria said.
“That game from kick-off was 100 miles an hour and in this one we’re expecting a lot of challenges and we’ll have to win our on-on-one battles because there is a lot on the line.”
Melbourne Victory have won just one of seven away games in the post season but Geria said the only way to fix that is meeting the challenge head on.
“We just need to embrace it, it was good to win a championship at home two years ago and it will be a different experience having one away,” he said.
“But we’re going to have a lot of support coming over, I think there will be the most away support ever seen in a grand final, so we’ll have thousands of our fans there who will make it feel like home and hopefully we can get the win for them.”