The Wanderers resume action as they travel to Perth and take on the Glory on Saturday evening in the A-League.
After a week off the Wanderers will need to immediately kick into top gear.
The game in Perth will be followed quickly by a Wednesday night match at Pirtek Stadium against Korean team, Uslan Hyundai in the Asian Champions League group stage.
With the trip to Perth begins the stretch of 13 games in just under two months, a brutal stretch of the schedule Tony Popovic has been planning for all year.
What will make an upbeat feeling around the Wanderers’ camp is the memory of the last match against the Glory.
The game came on the back of a few weeks of lacklustre performances and accusations in the media the team was experiencing a sophomore slump or being undermined by Popovic’s rotation policy.
On Australia Day the Wanderers came out and thumped the Glory 3-1 in front of their home crowd to reinvigorate the team and its support base.
Since then the Wanderers have secured two draws; one against table-topping Brisbane Roar in their most recent match, in which they dominated large portions of play.
On the other hand the Glory has been on a string of poor results, including that Wanderers loss.
They have scored a goal but lost the match in all of their last four outings.
That run means the last competition point they scored was back on January 17 against the Roar, a match they should have won after playing with a one man advantage. Last time the Glory took home all three points was January 14, against a Melbourne Heart team that still hadn’t won a match all season.
The result is a plummet down the ladder with them currently sitting in ninth place and 10 points adrift of the Wanderers and four points short of a finals place.
All of this indicates a match the Wanderers should win, but in Perth, you never know what is going to happen.
The main factors to consider are the make-up of the team and whether Popovic can keep the squad focused.
It’s natural to look ahead to highlights on the horizon.
All of us punters at home long for our long weekends and holidays to arrive sooner, similarly it will be tempting for the Wanderers squad to take a peek at the calendar and think about the upcoming ACL.
That sort of distraction is what causes upsets in a tight competition such as the A-League.
At the same time the team will have to prepare in advance for that match on Wednesday night.
That will likely include Popovic selecting a team with that in mind.
He may opt to rest either Matthew Spiranovic or the recently injured Jerome Polenz so one of them is in top physical condition to play the important holding midfield position in front of the defence in the ACL.
That could alter how the team lines up this weekend.
Another consideration is the return from injury of Tomi Juric. The Wanderers best striker came off the bench again against the Roar and it might be prudent to only start him in one of these matches so soon after time on the sideline.
Shinji Ono has struggled to recover for matches at times this year and it wouldn’t surprise if he is rested for the match against the Glory, or at least brought off the bench.
Amid all the speculation and protection of players the expectation will still be a victory this weekend, a tricky tight rope to walk.
The Wanderers will play a tight compact game this week, not falling behind at all costs and win with superior counter-attack and set pieces.