25 January 2013 02:30
Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou is unfazed by the buzz surrounding Alessandro Del Piero ahead of his team’s blockbuster against Sydney FC.
The Italian superstar will grace a pitch in Melbourne for the first time when the rivals clash in front of a sellout crowd at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Del Piero, 38, heads into the encounter in fine form, having netted a personal-best four goals against Wellington in Sydney’s 7-1 thrashing of the Phoenix last time out.
But Postecoglou said he was focused on his in-form third-placed side, who could jump into the top two by the end of the weekend.
“It’s gone pretty well for us focusing on us and nothing will change this week. I know what Melbourne Victory fans want to see tomorrow night,” he said on Friday.
“It’s got nothing to do with Del Piero so that’s what I’ll be excited about.
“I’m really just concentrating on us. I reckon we’re a pretty good team and if we play well tomorrow night or close to our capabilities, we’ll be hard to beat.”
If league leaders Central Coast defeat Adelaide on Friday night, a win for the Victory would send them up to second on the A-League table.
Postecoglou said his approach to Del Piero was as if he was just another player and he sees this weekend as an opportunity for his team to jump into the top two.
“We’re playing against Sydney FC tomorrow and that’s our focus. From our point of view it’s just trying to keep our progression going. We’re in pretty good shape at the moment,” he said.
“Depending on how they (other results) go, we could put some real pressure on the top two, which has been our goal for a little while.
“We’ve been chipping away at that gap but really get a chance to make some inroads this weekend.”
A gritty 1-0 win over Perth Glory on Saturday night means Victory have lost just twice in their past 13 outings.
While Postecoglou is generally pleased with his team, he said they still needed to get better in the attacking third.
“We’ve created quite a few opportunities over the last few weeks and we’ve kept opposition teams in the game,” he said.
“We’ve got to get better when we have a dominant period, just putting them away, because while you can get away with it sometimes, it comes back to bite you – particularly in big games.
“We’ll keep working on those areas but I think our general play has been very good. It’s just that through our dominant periods during games, we probably haven’t taken the chances as well as I’d like.”
Midfielder Billy Celeski is set to return from suspension, while defender Nick Ansell will come back into the side after missing the Glory clash with a groin injury.
Signings Francesco Stella and Jesse Makarounas could make their debuts with fellow recruit Scott Galloway also settling in well.