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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Victory no Del Piero sideshow: Postecoglou

By Guy Hand

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou doesn't see his team as Alessandro Del Piero's sideshow on Saturday - he wants them to be the main event.

If Postecoglou has anything extra aside from his team's normal tactics to pester and negate the Sydney FC maestro in their A-League clash, he's not telling.

And in front of a sold-out AAMI Park - in large part due to the Italian star's magnetism on his first A-League visit to Melbourne - Postecoglou wants the Victory to prove themselves the star attraction, and close in on a top two spot.

"I know what Melbourne Victory fans want to see tomorrow night, and it's nothing to do with Del Piero," Postecoglou said.

"It's the big stage. That's where individuals and teams get tested. As we get towards the end of the season, games will get bigger and bigger with more importance.

"Tomorrow night's a bit of a dress rehearsal to see how we cope with all that.

"I'm pretty confident the way we're travelling as a team, we'll be up for it."

Last time the two teams met, Del Piero was instrumental in setting up a 2-0 lead for the Sky Blues.

Then he was substituted, and the Victory produced an extraordinary late show to win 3-2.

Del Piero was at his imperious best with four goals in a 7-1 rout of Wellington Phoenix last weekend.

But the Phoenix played like the Washington Generals to Sydney FC's Harlem Globetrotters - giving Del Piero enough time to sip an espresso before pulling the trigger virtually every time he was in a dangerous position.

That won't happen against the Victory, whose full-pitch defensive harassment has improved markedly since the last time they faced Del Piero.

And the return of midfield string-puller Billy Celeski from suspension to partner Mark Milligan means the Italian can expect far less time on the ball to work his magic than against the Phoenix.

Postecoglou said Del Piero would be treated no differently to any other player, and his role in the game was Sky Blues coach Frank Farina's to work out.

"It's Sydney's problem, not ours," Postecoglou said of Del Piero's role in the game.

"We're pretty focused on making sure we keep playing our football and it's a big game for our football club, and we want to play well.

"When you're 10 games out and you can see the finish line, it's about setting some real targets now."

Centre-half Nick Ansell is also set to be recalled to the starting side after missing last weekend's win over Perth Glory with a groin niggle.




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