Melbourne Victory's season is on the line on Saturday night when they face Adelaide United at Marvel Stadium – and for coach Carlos Salvachua, there would never be a better time for his team to break his A-League duck.
Salvachua has presided over a successful Asian Champions League campaign, with three wins in four games, but since he replaced Marco Kurz in mid-January he has not been able to get Victory over the line in the domestic competition.
The A-League powerhouse has not missed the finals since season 2011-12, a disastrous year when Mehmet Durakovic and Jim Magilton both failed to get the results the club was used to.
Melbourne Victory’s caretaker coach Carlos Salvachua says every regular-season match now is like a final.Credit:AAP
But if they fail to beat Adelaide on Saturday a repeat would look to be on the cards.
Victory is ninth with just 17 points, nine points adrift of sixth-placed Brisbane and 10 behind fifth-placed Adelaide.
Another loss would make it all but impossible to sneak into the six, as Salvachua is acutely aware.
''Yes, now we are in finals and the first one is tomorrow,'' the coach said on Friday.
''We've won three games in the last 45 days – three games. And [if we win] tomorrow [it] will be in the fourth one. I know that this is the first in the A-League.
''But we cannot waste time talking about the past – now is the moment, the present, and it's just Adelaide in our mind.''
Aside from Robbie Kruse and Jay Barnett, Victory has a full squad to choose from.
''We have trained this week – with Storm Roux and Leigh Broxham for the week. Matt Acton (back-up goalkeeper) is really close to starting with the team again.''
The lack of ACL action this week has been a boost for Salvachua as he tries to drill his team tactically.
''We have trained for four days this week. It's a huge difference. Just a normal week, just preparing for the game against Adelaide.''
He took plenty of confidence from last week's effort against Newcastle, where Victory came from behind to draw 1-1 in the Hunter Valley.
''We had chances to score in the second half. It was a good game – it was not easy – it never [is to] play away. And after a week and a long, long trip to Korea it was a difficult week.
''But I think in the second half, the team [had] a good performance and the attitude of the players was unbelievable.''
Meanwhile, Western United are also desperate to get back on to the winners list when they host Central Coast in Gosford on Sunday afternoon.
Mark Rudan's team has slid to seventh on the A-League table and needs to take three points to stay in the finals race.
Western will, however, have to do so without marquee player Panagiotis Kone.
“He broke a bone in the wrist area. The bottom part of the arm, He had an operation and had a plate inserted so he’s out,'' Rudan revealed on Friday.
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