Valeri eager for Australia Day challenge

There’s few bigger games on the Hyundai A-League calendar than the annual Australia Day blockbuster between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, and Victory skipper Carl Valeri is like any football fan counting down the sleeps.

“I love these games, I love playing against Sydney,” Valeri said on Tuesday.

“They’re always a tough challenge for us, it's always an exciting game for [the players] and fans because of the build-up.

“A solid first five minutes [is important], followed by another solid forty minutes, followed by a solid second half, because you have to be at your best against Sydney.

“There’s nothing to it, we can’t afford any lapses in concentration because they’ll punish us – and it’s the same for them as well, they understand us very well, that’s why I love playing them.

“It’s the first full week [of preparation] we’ve had in a while, so it’ll be good to refresh the legs and get into the big match.

“It’s always very dramatic, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Something Valeri and his teammates are looking forward to is a week’s preparation leading into the big game, something they haven’t had since the eight day break afforded between Rounds 10 and 11.

Despite the intense fixture list Valeri has revelled in the opportunity to play mid-week football.

“I was saying to the boys before that I don’t mind playing mid-week. We aren’t out on the training pitch [much], everything was measure by our sports science staff and the amount of training we did compared to match play was just perfect.”

“When you’re a professional footballer, especially at my age, seeing the training pitch every day can be a bit tough… but this is what I do for a living and I truly love it and love being out there playing.

“I’m feeling good. As long as I can keep pushing for the team and keep performing for the team that’s the main thing for me.”