These are the games that turn an entire city’s attention to football, the kinds of games where heroes emerge, where dreams are fulfilled… and hearts broken. It’s the champions up against the noisy neighbours, it’s the 27th Melbourne Derby.
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Melbourne City are one win from their first grand final but there is no celebrating at the A-League club.
Instead, perfectionist coach Warren Joyce has his side knuckling down ahead of their trip to face Newcastle Jets in the semi-finals.
City were convincing 2-0 winners over Brisbane Roar in their elimination final on Friday night.
You wouldn’t have known it from Joyce’s post-match demeanour, the coach more concerned with the few deficiencies in City’s game.
Yes, City won the possession (58 per cent to 42), had more shots (21-4) and completed a whopping 400 of 500 passes.
Joyce nominated “the final pass and being ruthless” as his main concerns after the win.
“With that much possession, you’ve got to score goals,” he said.
“You’ve got to make opportunities from clear-cut chances so you can put the game to bed and be two or three up and make it a lot easier for yourself.
“When you’ve got them going you’ve got to turn the screw.”
Joyce, in his first season in Australia, says he has seen his side stumble too many times this season to see it repeated in the finals.
“Them small margins have cost us a lot of goals this year,” he said.
“Too many goals that have happened from us giving the opposition a goal form not being switched on.
“That’s the fine margin I keep going on about. The standards we need to set.”
Michael Jakobsen is in doubt for the semi-final after missing Friday night’s win.
Joyce revealed the Danish defender aggravated his thigh injury at training on Thursday and is no guarantee of returning for the trip to the Hunter.