It has been a recruiting focus in the off-season, and Melbourne Victory’s defence is new-look ahead of 2021/22.
Of Victory’s 11 signings so far, six have been defenders and another, goalkeeper Ivan Kelava, is sure to play a key role.
Victory only kept two Isuzu Ute A-League Men clean sheets last season, a record the Club will be eager to improve ahead of the upcoming campaign.
The headline defensive signings are Jason Davidson, Jason Geria and Matthew Spiranovic, all of whom have represented the Socceroos during their careers.
Davidson impressed under Popovic at Perth Glory in 2018/19, his performances earning him a move to K League 1 outfit Ulsan Hyundai.
Opposite the left-back could be Geria, who returns to Victory and also arrives from Perth after spending the end of last season with the Glory.
Geria was ever-reliable across six seasons in Victory colours, making 107 Isuzu Ute A-League Men appearances for the Club.
The defender is one of just 14 players to represent the Club more than 100 times in the league, and could this season climb into the top five for Isuzu Ute A-League Men appearances for Victory.
Popovic has previously played with a 3-5-2 and with Davidson and Geria has reliable options at wing-back should he go in that direction again.
Spiranovic is also reunited with Popovic and the Geelong-born defender’s journey also sees him return to Victory.
The 33-year-old featured in a penalty shoot-out loss to Adelaide United during qualifying for the 2005 Oceania Club Championship before going on to enjoy a strong career abroad.
Spiranovic and Popovic teamed up at the Western Sydney Wanderers, winning the AFC Champions League and A-League Premiership.
After two years without playing professional football, Spiranovic – who represented Australia 36 times – is back.
Victory has also welcomed Roderick Miranda to the Club, with the Portuguese centre-back venturing outside of Europe for the first time in his professional career.
The former Benfica, Wolves and Olympiacos defender is among the new signings, with Brendan Hamill and Stefan Nigro, the latter also returning to Victory.
The experienced defence is complemented by a pair of talented youngsters – Aaron Anderson and Zaydan Bello – while Matthew Bozinovski is on loan at Wellington Phoenix.
Victory also has the versatility of Leigh Broxham, should it be required, with the Club great having played in defence previously.
A central part of Victory’s rebuild, the defence is shaping up nicely ahead of the 2021/22 season.