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The stage is set for the Brisbane Lions to cause one of the biggest finals upsets in recent memory

The history of the Lions stretches further back than 1996 when the club formed their own team based in Brisbane.

The then Melbourne based Fitzroy Football Club would stamp their authority in the VFL when they won eight premierships between 1898 and 1922, quickly becoming one of the most popular teams to support.

A new team was born in the late 80s in the form of the Brisbane Bears which did not experience the same success in its earlier years and struggled to keep the club afloat.

Thanks to the financial support received by the AFL, it was the establishment of the Brisbane Lions holding some legendary names such as Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis, and Simon Black which won a historic three-peat in the early 2000’s which are the recent memories that Brisbane fanatics have cherished to this day. 

Since then, the club has faced some tumultuous times including a failed rebuild under then inexperienced coach Michael Voss and off-field issues including the catastrophe signing of Brendan Fevola. 

Only one finals appearance was made in the space of 12 years from 2005 to 2017, with the Brisbane faithful suffering so much uncertainty during those dark times.

2017 would commence the real building process after the appointment of Chris Fagan, taking over a wooden-spoon side from the previous season.

The nightmare would come to a halt in 2019 as the Lions would incredibly claim the minor premiership which needed a couple years to reconstruct the culture and philosophy of the team prior to that. 

There has been no looking back, as Brisbane have put themselves up there as contenders for the flag in recent years. 

Despite reaching a preliminary final having qualified outside of the top eight, some have been quick to write them off with one being respected commentator and Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd. 

“I don’t think Brisbane can win it, but I think any of the other three would not surprise me if they won the flag.”

Should Brisbane really be considered as a big outsider? If not, then what gives them a fighting chance of taking out Geelong and lifting the cup next week?

1 – Belief in the squad. Belief at the G

Some suggest that inconsistency has been a key contributor in the Lions’ failure to go away in the finals series since Fagan’s reign, which is a fair point.

However, there is no denying that this group of players fight for one another and have that belief that they can achieve something special, especially after beating the Tigers and producing a spectacular comeback against the reigning premiers at their haunted ground, the MCG.

Prior to last week’s victory, the Lions had incredibly failed to win 11 straight games at the G dating back to 2014 which has ultimately stalled their chances of winning finals footy away from home. 

The hoodoo is over now. There is no more pressure and no more constant reminders that Brisbane can’t win at the MCG.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Overcoming this barrier could not come at a more perfect time before the clash against the Cats, who although play more games at the G than Chris Fagan’s men, their home ground is still Kardinia Park at the end of the day. 

The belief has really shone through in the younger playing core such as Cam Rayner (22), Zac Bailey (22), and Callum Ah Chee (24) to name a few that has translated in a fearless approach to their style of footy that has been well guided under the experienced heads in the locker room including captain Dayne Zorko, Lachie Neale, and Mitch Robinson.

2 – Geelong’s poor showings in finals and record after a bye

Many expected big things from Geelong coach Chris Scott after his remarkable premiership triumph in 2011 which would be his debut season as a professional coach.

That would be the last time he has won silverware up until now, which to many has been a real disappointment as a club of Geelong’s stature should be producing much better results in September given the strong list that they always seem to be blessed with. 

In the past five seasons, Geelong hold a very underwhelming 5-5 record in finals. Could this be due to an ageing squad not having a full tank to cross the finish line, albeit having added some new faces?

This is an area which the Lions definitely have the ability to overrun them towards the latter stages of the contest where they can keep themselves in it with that youth mentioned earlier. 

What is also a fascinating trend is the 6-13 record that Geelong have produced after coming off a bye week. This comes down to Chris Scott’s management and preparation in training leading in, as they always seem to be one step slow coming out of the gates and have to play catch up, with last week being a perfect example and making it another area which the lions can exploit and get off to a dominant early start.

Tom Hawkins of the Cats competes with Jeremy Finlayson of the Power.

Tom Hawkins of the Cats competes with Jeremy Finlayson of the Power. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

3 – Lions’ ability to capitalise on turnovers

From start to finish against the Pies in the qualifying final, Geelong were incredibly lacklustre throughout the entire four quarters. The amount of misplaced kicks, hand passes, and overall poor decision-making was a real cause for concern and even the most biased Cats fan would admit that they were fortunate to escape with the win.

On the contrary, it will be rare for a team of the calibre of Geelong to display a performance similar to what was witnessed a couple of weeks ago, but the chances will still be there for the Lions to take advantage of the turnovers, especially in transition with the midfield dominance of Neale in particular. 

The margin for error is so slim now towards the gritty end of the season, which leads to the next point.

4 – Forward line of Brisbane to take advantage

The fact that the Lions were able to beat Melbourne without star forward Joe Daniher should be applauded. The 28-year old adds a completely different dimension to an already talented attack. 

The past couple of games have demonstrated that they are more than capable of coming up clutch in the big moments to kick some important majors, whereas previously the criticism was aimed at their poor accuracy in front of goal and scoring too many behinds. 

If Geelong have another poor night where they’re kicking efficiency is below par, expect Daniher, Cameron, and Hipwood to put them to the sword. 

You have the right to doubt the Lions all you want, but this team has all the ingredients and trends on their side to defy the odds and end an 18-year grand final drought.

Will those Brisbane supporters have the opportunity to cherish some new memories in a week’s time?

Who can forget the legendary call of “the miracle on grass” by commentator Anthony Hudson in 2013 when the Lions famously conquered Geelong when they came back from 52 points down late in the third term to snatch the most unlikeliest of victories as massive underdogs at the GABBA.

There is every possibility that the Brisbane Lions can create another miracle on grass at the MCG on Friday night.

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