Out Of His Liga Wanderers’ Oriol Riera
Wanderers’ new marquee Oriol Riera has swapped the glamour of La Liga for the grit of Western Sydney and the A-League – and he’s certain it’s the right decision for him.
With two goals in two FFA Cup games, Western Sydney Wanderers’ marquee Spanish striker Oriol Riera already looks like he certain to dodge the ignominy of being tagged the new Dino Kressinger or Federico Piovaccari. Riera, 31, has the close control you would expect of a player groomed at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, who can score in the air or play with either foot to find his teammates with neat passes and flicks. After Western Sydney netted only 35 times last season, Wanderers fans hope the former Osasuna star will be their solution in front of goal. What was your reason for leaving the glitz of the Spanish top flight to sign with the Wanderers? When I was young, my dream was to play in La Liga and I did this for many years. I played in the first league for many years and I scored goals so for me the dream was done. Last season was very difficult in Osasuna as we got relegated again. But here we have a new challenge and we can win games and win titles. I feel very good, I’m 31 but I still feel very young. I’m ready for a new challenge What was it like being part of Barcelona’s youth team set up and then having to leave the club after playing only one competitive game? For Catalan-born players like me, it’s a pleasure to start our career in Barcelona. They gave me an education, a football style and technique. For Catalan people, it’s also the big dream to stay in Barcelona. But I had to leave because I wanted to improve and to play in La Liga. I stayed in many, many clubs after Barcelona. After leaving Barcelona, you spent five seasons in Spain’s second division then you played for Osasuna in La Liga – what was that like playing in the top division? My first season was very good personally, because I scored 13 goals, but not for the team because we got relegated. I scored the same number of goals as David Villa and more than Neymar so it shows it was a very good season. Against Real Madrid that season, I scored two goals and then last season I scored another. Scoring against Madrid for me and my friends is always pleasure. Tell us about Tony Popovic and what you think about him as a coach and what he can bring to your game. I believe that we will see him in La Liga and the English Premier League in a few years. He’s a very good coach. He likes high intensity and good movements. It is very complex. We do that a lot of that in training and work on physical and technical aspects as well. Do you have a target about how many goals you want to score this season? I don’t like to speak about numbers. I have scored a lot of goals in the past and I like to score goals but it is not the only thing I want to do. I have to take my experience and combine with teammates. I also like to make chances to score, so it’s not only scoring. We have time to see about my football but I never speak about setting numbers for a season. What have you learnt about the rivalry with Sydney FC and the derby games? My teammates have explained to me that these are big games and that we play in the big stadium. It’s a very, very big derby. In the past, I have played in many derbies against Espanyol and Real Madrid so it won’t be the first one that I have played. I like these big games. I like the pressure that we have in that week and the intensity that those games are played in.