High stakes makes Big Blue even bigger, says Valeri

Melbourne Victory captain Carl Valeri expects the 'fierce' Big Blue rivalry to be ramped up to another level in Sunday’s Semi-Final because of the prize at stake.

Kevin Muscat’s team travel to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (7pm kick off AEST) to play Sydney FC for the right to face Perth Glory in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

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Victory claimed bragging rights in the opening two Big Blues of this season, including a 2-1 win at Kogarah last November, but the Sky Blues had the last word when Milos Ninkovic hit a 93rd-minute winner in a 2-1 triumph at the Sydney Cricket Ground in April.

As a veteran of the Big Blue rivalry, Valeri is expecting the clash against the Sky Blues to be as fierce as ever, but the 34-year-old believes the nature of a Semi-Final makes both sides even hungrier than usual.

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“It’s going to be tough, it always is,” said Valeri.

“The Big Blues are always enjoyable games for the fans, not so much for us out there working our hardest.

“It’s going to be a game of those little battles. There’s a lot of respect between the two teams, but there’s also a fierce rivalry. 

“They are the best games to play in, the best games to watch and the fact that it’s a Semi-Final adds even more value to it.”

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Being one of the more senior players to run out at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium does not guarantee you anything, according to the tough-tackling midfielder. 

However, Valeri, who has announced he will retire at the end of the season, expects to use all of his footballing wisdom to ensure this match will not be his last.

“It’s good taking experience into these games,” adds Valeri.

“The expectations of the fans, how the game is going to start, the rhythm, the intensity, all of that.

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to win. You still have to be mentally prepared to fight all of those little battle that come up in every moment of the match.”

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