In Australia's premier soccer competition, you cannot be considered the national A-League champion unless you win the Grand Final, the tournament's showpiece event.
Due to the superiority of Sydney FC's season, in which they broke several records—including a record points tally and biggest margin from first to second (17 points)—it has brought into focus just how unfair it will be if they lost Sunday's Grand Final against Melbourne Victory.
The Premiers' amazing season, which included only a single loss, came in no small part due to the brilliance of Milos Ninkovic, who was the clear winner of the league's highest individual honour, the Johnny Warren Medal.
Having put together the most dominant season in the history of the league, the Sky Blues will go in as solid favourites at $1.80 AUD to win inside the 90 minutes, with Victory at $4.33 and a draw at $3.75, according to AustralianGambling.com.au.
Only three of the 11 A-League grand finals have ended all square after the 90 minutes.
Ever since the two biggest clubs in the land met in the first round of the league, back in August 2005, the "Big Blue" has been a must-see fixture for the A-League. They have met twice previously in Grand Final matchups, with Sydney claiming the trophy in 2010 and Melbourne winning in 2015.
The same two coaches as 2015 face off here, in Kevin Muscat and Graham Arnold. Muscat was also a key figure in the 2010 Grand Final, missing a spot-kick in the penalty shootout that decided the game. Remarkably, it was the only penalty he missed in his decorated A-League playing career.
Being a Grand Final, there is also a chance we could go to extra time, and penalties, if the teams cannot be separated during regular time once more. The "to lift the cup" market has Sydney even shorter, at $1.32, with Melbourne at $3.30. Only two Grand Final matchups have been decided on penalties.
In their three matches this year, Sydney prevailed all three times but did come from behind in the first two matches.
Common sense says that Sydney wins this decider. Victory have lost their last four away finals and have scored just one goal in those knockout games, but they certainly have the attacking threats to cause a surprise.
Those threats come with the likes of Marco Rojas, James Troisi, and Besart Berisha, who are all capable of scoring when their club needs it. Let's not forget, though, that their opponents have kept 17 clean sheets this season, eight more than any other team.
The Sky Blues are odds-on to be the fourth consecutive Premier to be crowned champions. Should they slip up, it would be the biggest surprise in the 12-year history of the league. Away teams have won just three of the 11 A-League Grand Final matchups, the most recent being in 2013.
Arnold will see this as an opportunity the Sky Blues can't afford to miss. Winning the Grand Final is a perfect way to end what has been a close-to-perfect season.