JOHN Aloisi has warned his Melbourne Heart players not to give Sydney star Alessandro Del Piero an excuse to go to ground on Friday.
The Italian veteran proved too smart for Melbourne Victory in the 'Big Blue' on Saturday, drawing numerous fouls throughout the contest, including earning and then converting the penalty which secured a 3-2 win for Frank Farina's team.
The Heart's head coach confirmed the issue of how best to deal with the World Cup-winning marquee had been discussed in training this week, and exonerated the 39-year-old from accusations of simulation.
"We have spoken to our players a little bit about Del Piero, about what he's like as a player," Aloisi said.
"If you get too close to him he can actually dribble you or draw a foul. And it's not that he's diving, it's just that he's a smart player, an intelligent player.
"And then if you're too far off of him, he can pick out a pass that can hurt you. So you have to be at the right distance, not be afraid of him, but just make sure you're winning the ball and not hitting Del Piero."
Even if Heart avoid falling into the same disciplinary trap as Victory, Aloisi knows Sydney's superstar skipper will still represent a major threat to his team's chances of registering their first win of the season.
"They a tough side, they've got players like Del Piero who can make a big difference to them," Aloisi said.
"Del Piero is so dangerous when he's got the ball, you have to expect that he can play any pass, even if you think he hasn't seen it because he has.
"But we still think there are opportunities to hurt Sydney FC. They're a good side, they've got good players. They actually play really well on the break - we just have to be really careful of that."
The visitors will be without defenders Tiago Calvano and Marc Warren through suspension for the game at AAMI Park, with Aloisi hopeful of exploiting any uncertainty in Sydney's backline.
"Pedj Bojic will probably come in and I'm not sure if they'll switch Seb Ryall to the middle," he said.
"That'll be a bit of a weakness for them, because they haven't played together and hopefully we can take advantage of that."