THE best defence in the A-League versus the best attack.
That's how Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou characterised Saturday's game between his side and Central Coast Mariners at Aurora Stadium.
Postecoglou was confident of his side's chances of victory and said the match provided the perfect chance for the third-placed Victory to close the seven-point gap built up by the A-League reigning premier and ladder-leader.
``The game has become very important to us if we want to finish the season well,'' Postecoglou said yesterday.
``We have set ourselves pretty well with our start to the year and we're in good shape.
``But from our point of view we have an opportunity to close the gap on the top two - and playing one of those teams as we are this weekend gives us a good chance to make up ground.''
The two A-League clubs played a 2-2 draw in their previous meeting in November at Etihad Stadium which Postecoglou described as a high-quality game and said he expected similar on Saturday.
``Central Mariners are a very good side and have had an impressive start to the season.
``But from our point of view it is about continuing our progress.
``Our form has been pretty good in this half of the season and we want to continue building and we want to play our best football come finals time.
``This will be a good test of where we're at for good measure and every week it's about focusing on ourselves and playing the best we can with some variety and hope it's enough to get over the opposition.''
In his first season at the helm of the Victory the former Brisbane Roar premiership coach said he had settled in well back in his home town.
``It's a fantastic club with the biggest support in the league and we've had a great start to the year so I'm pretty happy with the way it's gone.
``It's an evolutionary thing and we've changed the squad a bit from last year.
``When you change personnel it changes the manner in which you play the game and we're really happy with the change in side and styles - and that's a work in progress.''
Postecoglou said the Mariners were a well-organised and well-coached team and believed their ability to work as a collective over the past two or three years had been integral to their success.
But he refused to concede that Central Coast's miserly defence would give it an advantage.
WHO: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners.
WHAT: A-League fixture.
WHEN: Saturday, 5.30pm.
WHERE: Aurora Stadium
TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100.