City out to thrive on AL semi atmosphere

Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts says he wants his team to embrace the challenge presented in their A-League semi-final against Western United.

Newly appointed Melbourne City Head Coach ERICK MOMBAERTS speaks during a Melbourne City A-League media opportunity at CFA Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.
Newly appointed Melbourne City Head Coach ERICK MOMBAERTS speaks during a Melbourne City A-League media opportunity at CFA Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Melbourne City faces one of the biggest games in their A-League history but coach Erick Mombaerts wants his players to embrace the occasion, rather than feel the pressure.

City will take on Western United in a semi-final at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night, with both teams pushing for a debut A-League grand final appearance.

United are in their first A-League season and City, founded as Melbourne Heart, are in their 10th.

"It is our biggest game but I don't want to put on more pressure," Mombaerts told reporters.

"We have to enjoy playing (the) game ... we have (had) a very good season, we finished second.

"The most important (thing) is to be to be ready at the right moment, to play our style of play, and to play the way we want to play, that is my message.

"We have to respect all teams but without pressure - just enjoy reaching the semi-final, and now try to play our best football."

Mombaerts emphasised City didn't have to win the championship to consider the season a success and said any discussions over his personal future would come after their finals campaign.

City will welcome back playmaker Florin Berenguer (calf) and winger Craig Noone (suspension), in a boost for Jamie Maclaren who has scored six goals against United in three games.

"(Maclaren's) certainly one that's a matchwinner for them and we have to be on our toes and make sure that we defend that properly," United coach Mark Rudan said.

"They do cross the ball a lot so we need to make sure that we're in good position to stop those crosses and it's basically about stopping the oxygen into him.

"If you can do that you go a long way to stopping him from scoring goals."

Max Burgess, Andrew Durante and Josh Risdon are all fit after picking up knocks against Brisbane on Sunday.

United face City just three days after their elimination final but Rudan said they would embrace the challenge.

"We've done it the hard way, and we'll continue to do it the hard way," Rudan said.

"We keep saying that there are no excuses here - whatever challenges are going to be thrown our way, we're going to have to embrace it and take it on headfirst."

STATS THAT MATTER

* City have won all three of their previous A-League meetings with United

* City have lost four of their past five A-League finals matches, including their past two on the bounce

* Jamie Maclaren has scored six goals in three games against United

Stats provided by Opta