Geelong will move level on points with Melbourne at the top of the AFL ladder if they can beat the reigning premiers at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday night.
It does not get much better than a second versus first clash to kick off round 17 of the AFL.
Geelong are on fire having won their last six games on the bounce and are up against a Melbourne side who appear to have overcome a difficult few weeks to hit top form again.
The Demons have won the last two games, including a demolition of fellow flag hopefuls Brisbane, and another win over the Cats will cement their place in pole position.
There are some big games to come this weekend, but none bigger than Geelong v Melbourne so let’s take a closer look at both sides heading into the clash.
What: Geelong v Melbourne
Where: GMHBA Stadium, Melbourne
When: 19:20 (AEST) Thursday 7th July, 2022
How to watch: 7mate, Kayo, Fox Footy
Odds: Geelong 1/1, Melbourne 41/50
Geelong have not faced the Demons since they suffered an 84-point defeat in last season’s preliminary final and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and the Cats seem to have got over it. At least their form this season would suggest they have.
Chris Scott’s men have lost just the four games out of 15 and have been playing some great footy in the 2022 campaign.
There was also talk of a virus sweeping through the Geelong camp before that preliminary final mauling and that could be used as something of an excuse.
Even so Scott says the defeat will not have an effect on his side and the way they approach the game. But he can understand why it gets brought up.
"The circumstances are very, very different this time," Scott told reporters ahead of the game. "(The preliminary final) is certainly relevant to the discussion (but) it's just not as relevant to us."
The clash against the Demons will still be their toughest test yet in this campaign and they will have to be at the top of their game to get a result.
Melbourne do seem to have the sign over them at the moment as well. In round 23 last season the Demons broke their hearts as star ruckman Max Gawn booted an after-the-siren goal to win at the death.
Just to make things harder the influential Gawn returns from a foot injury on Thursday night.
However the Cats do have a great record at GMHBA Stadium this season. Out of the five games they have played there they have won four and lost one. The stadium is also a sell out so the atmosphere will be hot.
Geelong are boosted by the return of captain Joel Selwood who has been rested on occasions this season. Key defender Sam De Koning also returns from injury after sitting out last week’s 112-point with over North Melbourne.
The Demons are handed a huge boost with the news that Gawn is back in the fold. Gawn was expected to be out for some time with an ankle injury but it is not as bad as first feared and the star ruckman will face the Cats.
Not only that, Melbourne will also welcome back Luke Jackson from a knee injury and he will partner Gawn in the ruck.
Sam Weideman and Mitch Brown are the two players that make way for the Demons.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin is delighted to have his star ruck combination fit and raring to go and he knows they will need to be firing on all cylinders against the Cats.
There is a very good chance these two sides will meet again in finals so it is something of a full dress rehearsal and there has been a buzz about the Demons camp this week.
"It's exciting, it feels like a final and our players are looking forward to it," Goodwin said ahead of the game. "There's a lot of excitement around the group and a lot of energy this week.
"There's no bigger challenge than to head down to Geelong and play on their home ground."
Melbourne’s season looked to be in danger of imploding following defeats against Fremantle, Sydney and Collingwood but they have since bounced back with win over Brisbane and Adelaide.
Now all eyes will be on Kardinia Park in game that has all the ingredients to be a classic.