Melbourne Victory defender Matthieu Delpierre has warned his team-mates they can expect parked buses from Perth to Brisbane throughout the 2015-16 A-League season.
Victory had the A-League’s best attack and defence as they won the premiership in 2014-15, while they crushed second-placed Sydney FC 3-0 in the grand final to claim the championship.
As the reigning champions, Victory can expect to have a target on their backs, with Delpierre predicting opposition sides will look to limit the space the likes of Besart Berisha and Fahid Ben Khalfallah have in the final third.
“I think this year we will play against teams that will defend maybe more than before… and I think it will be very difficult for us and with the ball, we have to be better,” Delpierre told Omnisport from Victory’s training camp in Coffs Harbour.
“We will have more of the ball than the other teams and that’s why we will have to do very well with it.”
While the arrival of Berisha (13 goals, 4 assists) and Ben Khalfallah (5, 7) was critical to Victory’s performance last term, the experience and quality of former Bundesliga champion Delpierre added stability at the back that Kevin Muscat’s side had lacked in previous seasons.
Although Delpierre missed a chunk of games mid-season with a foot injury, he still did enough in his 15 matches to finish second for the Victory Medal – his new club’s player of the year award – five votes behind Ben Khalfallah and one ahead of Berisha.
Despite that, Ben Khalfallah and Berisha grabbed the majority of headlines throughout the campaign but Delpierre knows that is simply the lot of a centre-back.
“It was always like this and it will be in the future too. It’s normal,” he said.
Delpierre added: “I was happy with my performance because I was not sure that I could perform like I wanted when I came back from the injury.
“But the team worked very well and I found it easy to come back and I felt very, very good physically, and by the end of the season, I was very happy with myself.”
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