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Australian Football: Popa ready to embrace pressure games

Tony Popovic says the pressure is on as Melbourne Victory prepare to face Western United in the A-League semi-finals, but he would not have it any other way.

Victory are priced at 13/8 to go all the way and win the grand final but first they must get past a Western United side over two legs in the semi-finals.

Back in the hunt for silverware

It has been an outstanding season for Victory who are back hunting for glory after a shocking season in 2020/21 that saw them finish with the wooden spoon.

Popovic took over as coach ahead of the new campaign and the turnaround has been staggering under his leadership. The pressure is on in the semis but it is exactly where Victory want to be.

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"It's another game. Yes, it's a pressure game but it's where we want to be. We now have a chance to win another important match," Popovic told reporters. "The stakes are higher, the pressure is higher, and that's what we all want.

"At Melbourne Victory, this is where we want to be. We're here now, we don't want to just make up the numbers; we want to perform and get through to the grand final."

Miranda the best

Defence is sure to be crucial over the two legs and thankfully for Victory, Popovic believes they have the best centre-half in the league.

"He's probably the best central defender in the league," Popovic added. "He's a leader, he has a great calming influence, great around the group. I can't speak highly enough of him."

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