Sydney FC coach Ian Crook says it will take more than just Perth’s combative style to stop the class of Alessandro Del Piero.
The Glory have built a reputation in recent seasons of possessing one of the most physical and confrontational midfield’s in the competition led by skipper Jacob Burns.
But they will face their toughest test yet to stop the in-form Italian maestro, who has impressed in every match and has scored two goals in the last two weeks.
Crook has no doubt the Glory will do their best to and stifle the creativity of the former Juventus striker but is confident it won’t affect his impact on the game.
“Look, (Del Piero) is a world class player. He’s played against players all over the world that try different things against him,” the Sydney boss said.
“And he finds a way to do things. It’s going to be another challenge for him on the weekend.
“People ask me constantly ‘What’s he like?’… He’s special.
“You’ve already seen in the three games he’s played for us what he can offer our game here as a whole.
“I’m sure again on the weekend there’ll be something he does which excites the crowd.”
While Crook expects a torrid tussle against the Glory, particularly in the midfield, he also felt last season’s grand finalists sometimes are not given enough credit for the football they play.
“A lot of people have said to me that Perth are physical, and yes they are, but I think that’s being a little bit detrimental to them,” he said.
“Towards the end of last year and certainly what I’ve seen of them this year they’ve started to pass the ball around.
“(Liam) Miller’s a good player, an exceptionally good player.
“I’ve worked with Travis Dodd, the likes of them, and they’re good technically.
“Same with (Scott Jamieson). Yes they’re physical but they’ve got a real good balance to their whole side.”
Crook said there had been a visible difference in the mood of the side after their first win but stressed it was important to maintain the momentum.
Sunday’s match will be the first time a Hyundai A-League game will be played at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium and another big crowd – and huge occasion – is expected to greet the Sky Blues squad.
“The expectation around us with Alessandro here … it can be mentally tiring,” Crook admitted.
“But that’s where the players have got to be able to deal with that.
“At the end of it I think we’re in a very, very fortunate position – all of our players are – that we can have that problem. To have Alessandro here is fantastic.”