Oriol Riera’s ‘love of the cup’ is an extra factor driving him in Western Sydney Wanderers’ FFA Cup Quarter Final against Melbourne City at AAMI Park this evening.
Riera’s very first taste of top level professional football was running out for FC Barcelona as 17-year-old in a 4-0 Copa del Rey victory over Ciudad de Murcia in December 2003.
On that fateful day, he replaced Argentina international striker Javier Saviola after 77 minutes to make his senior debut alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, while Dutch winger Marc Overmars scored a double.
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Cup competitions have clearly played a special role in Riera’s career, and the 32-year-old Wanderers attacker would love nothing more than to create more moments to savour in the FFA Cup 2018/19.
“For me it’s very important because the Cup has helped me in the past when I was young,” Riera told A-League.com.au.
“It’s a competition that I like a lot, that I love.
Recalling his debut, Riera said: “It was a close game and they were pushing us, so I came on and finally we won 4-0. The press conference that [then coach] Frank Rijkaard did was amazing for me and all the congratulations I had from my teammates and fans was amazing.
“I was just 17 so for me it was something different, something special. It was amazing, it was one of the things which I will always remember. I was playing with Ronaldinho, who was one of the best, with [Samuel] Eto’o and Deco. They taught me a lot.”
Raising their game
The Spanish front man netted two goals in the Round of 32 win against Hellenic Athletic as Markus Babbel’s side narrowly avoided an upset, before Wanderers edged Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 2-1, in the Round of 16.
Riera admits a Quarter Final encounter against A-League opposition in the shape of Melbourne City means Western Sydney will need to raise their levels.
“[Against Bonnyrigg] we started well but lost a bit of concentration, so we have to learn about that and now that we play against an A-League team,” Riera said.
“[Melbourne City] is one of the games we have weeks before the A League so I think it’s a good game to try to improve yourself in a good way because we know that we are not at 100% now.
“But if you are on your way to 100%, not just you, your teammates, tactically. I think the game will be a good example for us.”