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Carlton coach Mick Malthouse could be facing his old team Collingwood sooner than expected

MICK MALTHOUSE'S much-anticipated clash with former club Collingwood could happen much sooner than expected, with Carlton and the Magpies favoured to face off in the NAB Cup Grand Final.

Both clubs are undefeated after three matches and only surprise results will prevent the showcasing of the first Grand Final between the arch enemies since the 1981 premiership-season play-off.

Click here to see the full NAB Cup ladder

Carlton sits atop the NAB Cup ladder with a percentage of 185.4, followed by the also unblemished Brisbane Lions (143.2), Collingwood (129.8) and North Melbourne (111.2).

The Blues confront a stern test against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Friday night but, even if they lose, should qualify for the following week's decider by virtue of their whopping percentage.

The Pies are expected to account for the Lions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, while the Kangaroos will be underdogs against a white-hot Geelong at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon.