With more than 15 years’ experience in Germany’s Bundesliga to draw on, it comes as no surprise Georg Niedermeier has made a strong start to life in navy blue.
The Bavarian native came through the ranks of Bayern Munich as a junior before eight seasons as a mainstay at VfB Stuttgart, during which time he forged a defensive partnership with former Melbourne Victory star Matthew Delpierre.
Having settled nicely into Kevin Muscat’s starting eleven, which included a Round 1 derby debut, Niedermeier can’t wait for Sunday’s showdown with Sydney FC.
“The boys have been talking about it [the rivalry],” Niedermeier said.
“Every league has those two big rivals fighting each other and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope we can make the fans proud and happy.”
On big matches against fierce rivals, it’s nothing the German hasn’t experienced before.
“[I’ve played in] local rivalries. Stuttgart versus Hoffenheim, and whenever you play Bayern Munich its always a big game.
“My first match in the first team [at Bayern] I was on the bench against Dortmund. My knees were a bit shaky, to be honest, but they won't be on the weekend!”
Although new to Victory, Niedermeier believes a developing understanding amongst a new defensive unit will hold him and his fellow defenders in good stead as the season progresses.
“The defence is always a small team within the team.
“I set up with Nick (Ansell) in the first two matches, then swapped to Tommy (Deng). They both have good qualities and now that I know them better it’s becoming easier [to play alongside them].
“Tommy is very flexible in where he can play, Stormy (Roux) has been playing well on the right… it’s good that the boss has some problems picking his best side.
As thoughts turn to the Sky Blues, Niedermeier recognises Sydney’s strengths, but trusts in what the boys in blue have been working on.
“Every [opponent] has weapons and we have to be strong in our mindset and believe in our defensive qualities.
“We look at other teams, of course, but importantly we concentrate on our own strengths.”