Postecoglou braces for Sydney backlash
Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou believes the return of several key Sydney A-League players and "human nature" will ensure his side face a much-improved Sky Blues outfit on Saturday night.
The teams renew their fierce rivalry at Allianz Stadium with Sydney FC looking to bounce back from one of their darkest hours, a 7-2 thrashing by Central Coast last week.
The home side received a badly-needed boost with marquee star Alessandro Del Piero, who turned 38 on Friday, declared fit to return after missing the loss with a hamstring problem.
Defenders Fabio, Adam Griffiths and Pascal Bosschaart also trained strongly on Friday and are likely to be available for selection again.
Postecoglou believes the returns will soften the effects of Sydney's horror loss.
"They'll need to have a reaction from last week but they had quite a few out last week as well," Postecoglou said.
"They'll get some players back. Whenever you go through something like that, the players (who didn't play in that game) haven't been scarred in that way.
"I'm sure they'll be looking for the guys who are coming into the side to provide some positive momentum for them."
Postecoglou said Sydney's pride as a big club - and their fierce rivalry with the Victory - meant they would bounce back strongly.
Melbourne know all about the bounce-back factor, after following up a 5-0 defeat by Brisbane last month with a win over Adelaide.
"Being at home, after last week, it's human nature that there will be a reaction from them," Postecoglou said of the Sky Blues.
"It's a big game. There's a rivalry there."
Postecoglou welcomed the return of Italian great Del Piero, who was greeted by a host of fans with birthday cakes at training on Friday, describing him as a great ambassador for the sport.
"When a player comes with the reputation that he does, there's only one way they can go if they aren't totally committed to it," Postecoglou said.
"It would have been terrible if his reputation got tarnished when he came here.
"But it just shows how professional he is. If anything, his reputation has been enhanced in this country."
The Victory come into the match in good form after producing their best performance of the season in a 3-2 win over Wellington on Monday night.
Postecoglou said the short turnaround from that game had forced a "light week on the track" and he hoped to field an unchanged line-up on Saturday night.