The AFL home and away season concludes this week and the final round of action could not begin with a much bigger game than the showdown between Brisbane and Melbourne at the Gabba on Friday night.
The stakes could not be much higher for these two sides. Whoever loses the game will more than likely slip out of the top four, which would put a huge dent in their chances of going on to win the premiership.
Melbourne currently sit third on the ladder, Brisbane in fourth. Both teams are level on 60 points with Sydney, who sit in second and Collingwood in fifth, while Fremantle are just two points behind in sixth spot.
Whoever loses on Friday night is in big danger and they will be left praying that both Collingwood and Fremantle slip up.
If not they will be out of the top four and will have to win the premiership the hard way. The Western Bulldogs in 2016 were the last team to finish outside of the top four before going on to win the grand final.
It is all set up for a great game on Friday night, one the neutral can sit back and enjoy while the Brisbane and Melbourne faithful endure a nerve-wracking night.
Let’s take a look at both camps ahead of such a massive game.
What: Brisbane Lions v Melbourne
Where: The Gabba, Brisbane
When: 19:50 (AEST) Friday 19th August 2022
How to watch: 7mate, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds: Brisbane 39/50, Melbourne 21/20
You need to be in good form when heading into a must-win game and thankfully for the Lions they are after winning four out of the last five games.
The game they did lose was a close encounter with Richmond who got up by just seven points in Melbourne, so there was nothing to be ashamed of there.
Not only are the Lions in good form but the fact they are at the Gabba for the game is also a huge boost.
Home advantage will certainly help Chris Fagan’s men as they have lost just the one game on home soil this season and will fancy their chances of getting the win against the Demons.
The two sides did clash at the MCG back in June with Melbourne cruising to victory by a massive 64 points, however the Lions will be a different proposition at the Gabba.
Melbourne were also is great form back then, enjoying an unbeaten streak that stretched to 17 matches. That is not the case these days which will also give Brisbane hope of getting the job done.
As far as team news goes, Brisbane are still waiting to see whether Marcus Adams and Callum Ah Cee will be able to take their place in the side.
They missed last week’s win over St Kilda with concussion and will need to pass AFL protocols before getting the nod to play.
Meanwhile, captain Dayne Zorko has every faith in the Lions and says confidence is high heading into the game.
"We understand we need to get it done in big games," Zorko said. "But we're building towards that, putting mechanisms in place to overcome adversity in games.
"Everything seems to be coming together and the boys are hitting form at the right time of the season."
Melbourne may not be performing like they were this time last season, but that is of no concern to Demons coach Simon Goodwin.
In 2021 Melbourne went undefeated from round 17 onwards as they went on to win the grand final. However in 2022 they have slipped to defeats against Geelong, Western Bulldogs and Collingwood in the last few weeks.
However they have also beaten Fremantle and Carlton during that time and Goodwin is confident his side will hit form at just the right time.
Melbourne are boosted by the news that they have a healthy list and players that know how to go on and win a premiership and that will be crucial against Brisbane and also heading into finals.
Goodwin is also well aware of how important it is to finish in the top four, but has suggested his side can still go on and win back-to-back flags if all does not go according to plan on Friday night.
"There is no question about that, if you look at where the premiers have come from in recent times, the top four is an important place to be," he said when quizzed about finishing in the top four.
"But it's certainly not the be-all and end-all as well. There's still a lot of opportunity, we will deal with it post Friday night and see where we sit, but we're confident in our game heading in."