Melbourne Victory skipper Carl Valeri is no stranger to the intensity of the rivalry shared by his side and Sydney FC and neither are his new international teammates.
Valeri spoke just two days out from the first meeting of the two rivals in season 2018/19 and believes Keisuke Honda, Georg Niedermeier and Ola Toivonen don’t require a crash course in blockbuster football.
“The one thing I don’t need to talk about with Keisuke, Georg and Ola is big games,” Valeri said with a smile.
“They’re professional in the way they go about their business and they train and play like every game is a big one.
“I can guarantee they wouldn’t have had the careers they have if they didn’t approach their football in the right manner, and that’s what has been great about having them in the team.”
Throughout the early stages of their Melbourne Victory careers the highly credentialed trio have left a great impression on the squad, Valeri included.
“Personally, they’ve given me a lot of enthusiasm and you can see the flow on effect that’s had with the young boys, which is extremely important.”
The fourth of Melbourne Victory’s off-season imports, Raul Baena, is in the frame to return following two matches on the sidelines with a hamstring strain, and even though they vie for the same place in Kevin Muscat’s eleven Valeri can’t wait to see the Spaniard back in action.
“Raul is a fantastic player – he’s probably better than me!
“I believe he’ll definitely change the dynamics of the team. He’s played in La Liga most of his career, you can see he’s got something special about him.
“I’m looking forward to him coming back in and taking us to new levels, because that’s what [we’re] all about.”
Valeri believes the squeeze for spots can only mean good things both on and off the field.
“There’s a lot of healthy competition this year [in the squad]… there’s so many battles for position it’s fantastic.
“What I like about this season is that everyone is approaching it in the right manner, everyone is competing with team-first in mind.
“We’re going to push each other, that’s our job, that’s what we’re here to do and that’s how the team produces it’s best football.”
Melbourne Victory visits Sydney FC this Sunday, with kick-off at Jubilee Stadium scheduled for 5:00pm.