Muscat: Pressure is on Roar
Victory have played three matches since the Roar's final game of the regular season, beating Guangzhou Evergrande and Sydney FC at home, before drawing away to Jeonbuk Motors on Tuesday to bow out of the AFC Champions League.
By comparison Mike Mulvey's team haven't played since April 12, and, after sealing the Premiers' Plate by beating Victory 1-0 last month, had to nothing to play for in their final three games of the campaign.
That lack of competitive edge may have contributed to the Roar losing 2-0 at home to the Central Coast Mariners in Round 27, surely not the manner in which the Queensland side wanted to sign off on an otherwise highly impressive regular season.
And while Victory will not be as fresh as their hosts going into this weekend's must-win clash, Muscat hopes his team's demanding run-in can still afford them an advantage.
"We can look back on the last four or five games and really know where we're at," he said.
"I'm not sure if that's the case from their perspective. We've improved and increased our performances as we've gone on and we're pretty comfortable and happy with where we sit to go there and give it a good shake.
"We're certain of where we sit in terms of conditioning for games. We'll go across there with a great deal of belief.
"By all accounts the grand final's theirs to be lost from what I've been ready during the week. So we'll go over there with a little bit less pressure."
Sunday's game will be the first time this season that star Roar striker Besart Berisha is available to face Victory, the team he will join as international marquee in 2014-15.
Muscat and his coaching staff haven't made any special plans for negating Berisha or playmaker Thomas Broich but, after three previous meetings this term, claim to have found some chinks in the premiers' armour.
"We're certainly aware of the threat he (Berisha) poses, along with the rest of the team," Muscat said.
"At this stage of the season, this is obviously the fourth time we're playing against them. We certainly understand the threats that they pose and the weaknesses we're trying to expose.
"It all points to a very entertaining and exciting game."
Adrian Leijer, Scott Galloway and Tom Rogic have all been ruled out of contention for the semi-final, but Guilherme Finkler will travel after being given a lighter training load this week as a precaution.