Victory not fazed by 'title favourites' tag

It would be naïve and disrespectful to think Western Sydney Wanderers are focused on anything but round one, according to Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat.

Tony Popovic's men are into the AFC Champions League (ACL) final against Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, with the first leg on October 25.

But first, the Wanderers are preparing for a trip to Melbourne to face Victory at Etihad Stadium in the A-League season-opener on Friday.

Muscat said there was no way last season's runners-up had "one eye" on the continental decider.

"I'm not buying into that one little bit," Muscat told Perform.

"Their eyes are firmly fixed on Friday night. Make no mistake.

"I think it'll be naïve, certainly of me, and disrespectful to insinuate that they'll be looking at the 25th. More so out of that, our focus is clearly on what we're going to do."

But Victory's marquee striker Besart Berisha said the Champions League could be a distraction, having featured in the competition with the Brisbane Roar in 2012 and 2013.

The Albanian urged his team to focus on themselves, saying only their best would be good enough against the Wanderers.

"In my opinion, it was a distraction in Brisbane because you're travelling, playing and it was really difficult," Berisha said.

"For us, it's important that we're 100 per cent focused and play the best football against them. This is the only way we can beat them."

After signing the likes of Berisha, Carl Valeri, Matthieu Delpierre, Daniel Georgievski and Fahid Ben Khalfallah, the Victory are considered one of the title favourites.

Muscat said favouritism meant nothing and it was something the Victory had grown accustomed to.

"It doesn't bother me in the slightest," he said. "It's certainly something out of our control.

"What we do know is that we've worked tirelessly over the last three months, we're itching to get out there on Friday night and have a run and get the serious stuff started.

"I can't remember a year in the last 10 that we haven't been somewhere at the top (in terms of favouritism)."

Victory vice-captain Leigh Broxham said the tag of favourites was one the squad would embrace.

"I think most years since I've been at the club we're kind of in the top three, no matter how we've gone the year before or who we've signed or what players we've brought in," he said.

"At Melbourne Victory, you get that pressure every week.

"The spin on every game, there's a derby of some aspect or some way so every team comes to Melbourne and it's a big game and that's something we accept and we're used to.

"Coming in favourites is something we embrace now and that's just how it is."