Western Sydney Wanderers boss Tony Popovic says he won’t fall into the trap of writing off John Aloisi's Brisbane Roar despite the Queenslanders' late-season wobble in the Hyundai A-League.
While Wanderers currently lead the competition heading into the last six rounds, Roar is on the slide picking up a solitary point in their last three matches.
And their last fortnight has been particularly worrying, conceding nine goals in back-back-to-back losses to Perth Glory (6-3) and Adelaide United (3-0).
Top of the table two weeks ago, John Aloisi’s side is now third and three points behind the Red and Black.
But Popovic is wary.
“If you just look at their [Roar] results you feel they aren’t doing very well but if you look at their games closely they’ve played well in large parts and controlled a lot of those matches,” the Wanderers boss told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re certainly not taking them lightly. They are up the top of the table for a reason, they are having a very good season.
“We know what to expect, a real difficult match, they are very strong at home and it will be an interesting.
“We believe we can beat everyone but we also respect everyone.
"It’s worked for us so far and hopefully we can come out with a positive result against Brisbane,” he added.
*Tommy Oar’s signing for Brisbane this week hasn’t come soon enough for him to be included in the matchday squad.
*Roar has won four of the last six against the Wanderers, dating back to the epic 2014 grand final.
*Jamie Maclaren has been a thorn in the Wanderers side this season, scoring three goals in the two previous clashes.
Popovic will be forced to make at least two changes to his starting XI from the side that beat Glory 2-1 last Friday night.
Playmaker Dario Vidosic will miss out with a hamstring problem with Romeo Castelen – last week’s goal-scoring hero - expected to start on the right flank.
There’s also a hole to fill at centre-back with skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley suspended after picking up his eighth yellow card of the season.
Brendan Hamill, who did an excellent job in the derby two weeks ago, and youngster Jonathan Aspropotamitis are the options at Popovic’s disposal.
“Brendan [Hamill] wasn’t involved last week, he’s been out such a long time and young Jonathan [Aspropotamitis] was unfortunate getting his red card when he did against Wellington,” he said.
“So we’ve got two players that are fit and fresh and are both putting their hand up and both want to play tomorrow night.
“We’ll make a decision but regardless of who plays we’re confident they’ll do a good job.
“We really want to stamp our authority on the game and perform very well. It doesn’t guarantee you a result but if we can perform the way we have we give ourselves a chance.”