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Form means nothing in derbies: Popovic

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic says Sydney FC's miserable form will be irrelevant in the cauldron of Saturday's A-League derby.

Honours are even in the brief history of the Sydney derby, with the teams meeting three times last season for one win each and a draw.

Sydney FC's were drubbed 4-0 by Brisbane Roar on Sunday after losing skipper Alessandro Del Piero to a calf strain that is likely to rule him out of the derby match at Allianz Stadium.

The Wanderers scored a 2-0 win when the two teams met at Allianz Stadium in round 11 last year.

"What I learned as a first-time coach is that those games are very unpredictable," Popovic said on Tuesday.

"Form goes out the window and derbies are special games on the field and off the field for the fans.

"We had a great result there last year and we played a great game of football and we'd love to do that again."

Popovic was willing to admit losing del Piero would be a huge blow for Sydney FC.

The continued individual brilliance of the 38-year-old Italian has been the only constant in what is already shaping as another rollercoaster season for the Sky Blues.

He scored the winner in Sydney's win over the Wanderers in round three last year and netted the only goal in their 1-1 draw in the final round.

"He's a special player and, going back to the derbies last year, he scored in two of them. He's a great player," Popovic said.

"It's a shame for the fans in such a big game that a top player like him may not be able to be there, but I'm sure if he's not there it will still be a great game."

Wanderers skipper Michael Beauchamp insisted his job in defence would be no easier without the dangerous Del Piero, with former Socceroo Brett Emerton likely to take his place should he be ruled out.

He said the humiliating loss to the Roar would be powerful motivation for Sydney FC.

"They're going to have a lot to prove after a loss like that. They'll be fired up being a derby and playing at home," he said.

A record crowd is expected at Allianz Stadium for the clash with figures set to trump the current club record for a regular season match of 35,419, set for Del Piero's first home game against Newcastle last October.


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