The Battle on the touchline: John Aloisi vs Tony Popovic

John Aloisi

Good friends, ex-teammates, but now rivals on the touchline. John Aloisi and Tony Popovic are set to lock horns as Western United and Melbourne Victory kick off their 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League Men seasons on November 20.

Separated by just three years, the pair have had very similar careers as both players and now as managers.

Both went to an Olympic Games, played over 50 times for the Socceroos, and even returned home together, teaming up for Sydney FC in the 2008/09 A-League season.

The friendship turned to rivalry in the managerial hot seat, with Aloisi taking charge of Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar, taking on Tony Popovic’s Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory teams within the last 10 years.

The battles have been frequent and always entertaining. Popovic controlled the head-to-head early as he turned Western Sydney into a juggernaut as soon as the club came into the league.

Aloisi didn’t get the better of his old friend until he moved to Brisbane, from where he had great success and many fantastic battles with the red and black outfit.

Both sides knocked each other out of the finals, with the Wanderers winning a thrilling semi-final 5-4 in extra-time in 2016 before Brisbane exacted revenge the following year, winning an elimination final on penalties.

John Aloisi has a positive record against Tony Popovic

Overall, Aloisi has four wins against Popovic compared to three defeats since 2015, with two draws between the two.

Now, hostilities will be resumed. Continuing their similar career trajectories, both will take brand new roles in Melbourne and will meet each other in the return of the Battle of the Bridge.

Popovic will lead his Victory side across the bridge and into Aloisi’s Green and Black domain. Both sides need an improvement from last season, and Western United has revenge to exact after heavy defeat in the last encounter.

There’s bound to be plenty of fireworks, and Aloisi and Popovic will be at the heart of the action as foes on the touchline, but friends away from it.

Tickets are on sale now for the big season opener, and club membership remains the best and easiest way to follow the team for this match and the entire season.

Click here for matchday tickets, or visit the Western United membership portal for more information and sign up to be a part of the journey today.