The Lions will be looking to make a statement when they face minor Premiers, Melbourne, at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Here’s three things you need to know ahead of the Qualifying Final.
3. What Wins; Defence or Attack?
A battle of the titans awaits in Adelaide when the Lions stellar forward line-up takes on the competitions best defence in Melbourne.
Kicking more than 100 points on ten occasions this season and averaging 97 points a game, the Lions potent forward line have created many a headache for defensive units this year.
The likes of Joe Daniher and Charlie Cameron have found some of their best form in recent weeks, having both kicked 11 goals each in the last three weeks alone.
Daniher was pivotal in the Lions crucial win over West Coast in Round 23 with four goals. Meanwhile, Cameron notched up a career-best six goals in the Lions’ dominant win over Collingwood just a week prior.
Slotting in alongside Dan McStay and Lincoln McCarthy, as well as growing threats in Jarrod Berry and Nakia Cockatoo, the Lions find themselves with significant depth and firepower in their attacking half.
On the flip side, Melbourne boast one of the strongest defensive line-ups around, conceding an average of 65-points a game in their 2021 season.
With two All-Australian defenders in Jake Lever and Steven May, the Lions will be looking to minimise their aerial impact and create chaos on the ground for the likes of Linc McCarthy, Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey.
The contest between the two begs the question, is it better to have a potent forward line or fortress of a defensive unit?
2. Full Strength Lions
The Lions will hit Adelaide Oval at full strength this weekend, with human wrecking ball, Mitch Robinson and dual All-Australian fullback, Harris Andrews recalled to the side ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Robinson returns to play after missing the last two matches with a calf strain.
The ferocious midfielder will be looking to bring his 'crash and bash' game early, with a mouth-watering match-up with Clayton Oliver or Christian Petracca potentially on the cards.
In better news for Lions fans, Robinson also announced he would continue on with the club in 2022 having signed a one-year contract extension.
Additionally, the inclusion of intercept king Harris Andrews will be the first time in 2021 Lions fans will see a full-strength defensive line.
Andrews sat out last weekend’s victory over West Coast with a tight hamstring, and will lineup alongside Darcy Gardiner and Marcus Adams, who have all had their own share of injury challenges this season.
Defender Ryan Lester and utility Cal Ah Chee will miss the qualifying final, ruled out with injury.
1. The Midfield Battle
With two of the most powerful midfields in the competition coming face-to-face on Saturday night, there’s every likelihood that their performance will dictate who comes out on top.
The Lions midfield has stood tall in recent weeks, with skipper Dayne Zorko leading from the front alongside contested beast, Jarryd Lyons.
Gathering an average of 29 disposals and 8 tackles in his last four games, Zorko is bringing some of his most aggressive and hardened football to the table as the Lions kick off their 2021 finals campaign.
Lyons and winger, Hugh McCluggage have also seen their fair share of the football in recent weeks, with the pair both finding impressive form in the perfect time of year. Highlights including a huge 38 possession game from Lyons in Round 20 and a 30 disposal, 7 mark game from McCluggage in Round 22 has the pair looking set to wreak havoc through the Melbourne midfield come Saturday.
Conversely, the Demons have a lethal trio of All-Australian midfielders in Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn and Christian Petracca who are all producing what is arguably some of their best football of their careers.
Oliver has been averaging an elite 31.6 disposals and 7.6 clearances a game, which when paired up alongside experienced ruckman Gawn and attacking threat Petracca, sets up a challenge in the midfield for the Lions.