Melbourne City midfielder Erik Paartalu admits his team has been poor at Etihad Stadium this season but says they are driven to reverse that record come Friday.
City takes on Melbourne Victory in the elimination final at the Docklands venue after defeating Wellington Phoenix 2-0 last weekend.
Paartalu’s side has lost both games at Eithad this season, a 3-0 defeat in February and a 5-2 loss in October last year. A 1-0 victory in December over their city rivals was at AAMI Park.
Out of the seven Melbourne derbies played at Etihad since 2011, City have only won one while Victory have claimed three wins.
“We’re not going to stray away from the fact we’ve been pretty dismal at Etihad this season and that’s probably driving us on more than anything else,” Paartalu told FourFourTwo.
“Having a pretty poor record there spurned us on to get a good result and have a good performance. It’s going to be a pretty big game. You sort of get the sense around the training ground that everyone’s excited.
“I think the whole city’s pretty excited to get another Melbourne derby. To play in the final series is going to be a big spectacle.”
City have a short turnaround after Sunday’s game in New Zealand, while Victory have enjoyed a two-week break.
Paartalu has been in a similar situation before, when his former A-League club Brisbane Roar reached two grand finals, and can see both the advantages and disadvantages of having a week off.
“I think it’s probably a good thing,” he said.
“People can always say it’s hard having the short turnaround and things like that, but it’s been a good thing probably not being able to think about this game for too long.
“It’s just been a couple of days and we go again. But… when I was at Brisbane we had the week off as well after qualifying for the grand final. Probably both grand finals I’ve been involved in with Brisbane we started off pretty sluggishly.
“Nerves are a fact and maybe having that week off. But I know for a fact Victory were pretty sedate in their celebrations after winning the Premier’s Plate, they were already focused on winning the championship.
“That’s the thing in Australia, people don’t really give winning the premiership its due because it is the be-all end-all finishing first past the post and having the best season out of everyone.
“That’s the great thing for us as we find ourselves finishing fifth and in a semi-final. So it can work both ways.”
City had a terrible run leading into the finals, having won just once in its past five games before facing the Phoenix.comments