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.

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS - Words Con Sta­mo­costas

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.

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