Erik Paartalu believes Melbourne City are the club no one wants to play come finals time.
City will finish fifth and travel to either Adelaide United or Wellington Phoenix in the first round of the finals.
Paartalu’s side, who are away to Adelaide in the final round, had found form with five games unbeaten prior to Sunday’s disappointing 3-1 loss at Perth Glory.
City have proved frugal over the past two months, conceding only six goals from eight games prior to the Glory defeat. It's a vast change following a slow start to the campaign.
Paartalu said the side’s improved focus in defence would have other clubs worried ahead of the finals.
“I think teams will probably not want to play us in the finals,” Paartalu told FourFourTwo.
“We’re a tough team to break down. Results have shown we don’t give too much away in recent times.”
The former Brisbane Roar midfielder added there was belief among the group they could do some damage in the finals.
“I don’t see why not. I don’t think there’s any team putting their hands up at the moment to say they’re unbeatable,” he said.
“We won’t be getting carried away, but in our position we’ll quietly go about our business.”
Paartalu, 28, signed on with City on a four-year deal prior to this season following the club’s change of ownership.
He insisted this season was always going to be about setting a foundation for the future, as the club seeks to become a major player in the A-League.
However, he wouldn’t let that fact relax their ambition for this finals series.
“If you look at where the club finished last year at the bottom, it’s definitely been an improvement this year,” he said.
“But we’ve got the opportunity to be in the finals, so let’s give it a go.
“I think we’re reasonably happy with the progression of the club this season.
“If we can do something in the finals series this year, then it sets us up to have a big season next year.
“It is about laying a foundation a bit more.”
He also added he felt the club’s new state-of-the-art training facility at Bundoora, which was opened in February, had helped improve performances this season by improving professionalism standards.
“Everyone comes in for training every day and is switched on,” he said.