Proven finals form makes the reigning premiers a compelling bet at the MCG on Friday night.
Melbourne looks back to its best form and the Dees can be confidently backed to build on last year’s superb finals record.
The Dees return 20 of the 22 players who cut a swathe through last year’s finals, winning their three matches by 33, 83 and 74 points, and the changes to the side are voluntary.
While the Dees second half of the year has been inconsistent, this has mostly been due to poor periods within games. In every loss they have had a period where they led by at least 20 points.
The last two games have seen the Melbourne of 2021 return, with a heart stopping win over Carlton being followed by a dominant win over Brisbane.
Coach Simon Goodwin has finally found a forward structure and ball movement plan that works, with the Dees having scored 79 or more in eight of their last nine games, their only failure coming on the odd shaped ground in Geelong.
Sydney come into the finals in excellent form – and do boast a win over the Dees earlier this year – but their lack of recent finals experience is a real concern.
Since losing the 2016 Grand Final, the Swans have played in four finals and lost three – every one as favourite.
On their home deck, the Dees should prove too strong.
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Christian Petracca has been spending a lot more time forward of late and is a proven goal scorer in big games, and Jake Melksham is currently playing as the deepest forward in Melbourne’s structure.
Max Gawn was brilliant with 28 disposals and a goal when these two sides played earlier this year, and while Sydney concede disposals at a very low rate, Clayton Oliver should still get his share.
Melbourne have an outstanding record in finals and are hitting form at the right time. If they play like they did against Brisbane in Round 23, they could easily put a big margin on the Swans.