Catalonia connection: Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Andreu came through Barcelona’s youth ranks. Photo: Brendan EspositoWestern Sydney Wanderers stars Andreu and Dimas might be tasked with the job of stopping Central Coast Mariners boom recruit Luis Garcia on Saturday but the pair have backed their countryman to be a hit in the A-League.
Garcia’s arrival has divided opinion, with the 37-year old forward having not played competitively since 2014 and the Mariners’ season all but over after dreadful first half of the campaign. They presently sit last, four points behind Perth Glory and 11 points behind sixth-placed Perth.
However, the signing has prompted plenty of hype in Gosford and is sure to lead to a major spike in attendance for the Mariners in their match against the Wanderers, who are aiming to claim back top place on the table.
“It’s great for Australia to have a player like this coming to the A-League. He’s still regarded as a very big star in Spain and someone who was an amazing player at big clubs,” Andreu said. “When you play for clubs like Barcelona, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid, it shows what kind of player he was. He was at Barcelona B before my time there but I always knew what a great player he was.”
Dimas, another Barcelona B graduate, said that Garcia was a “special player, someone capable of making a difference to the league” despite his veteran years.
Garcia impressed as he starred for the “Liverpool Legends” team in an exhibition match earlier in the month but that slow-paced friendly was hardly indicative of the serious opposition he’ll face in the A-League.
But Andreu still felt that Garcia wouldn’t make a fool of himself, even if he starts – as expected – on Saturday in Gosford.
“Obviously when you haven’t played for so long it’s going to take you time to find your fitness, even if you are a great player like Luis Garcia,” he said. “That might take some weeks, maybe even some months, so it’s hard to think he will play at his best level straight away. But in time I don’t see why can’t play very well for the Mariners. I just hope that he doesn’t play so well against us.”
The Wanderers go into the match needing a win to keep on the heels of ladder leaders Brisbane Roar – and to keep clear of a chasing pack that has recently regained plenty of ground. Just four points now separates the top five teams.
“We know how important a win would be for us, especially because while we have been playing well, we haven’t been getting the results in the past three games,” Dimas said. “You could see in the derby that we were the better team and, again, there were no points.
“But we are going to keep faith in our team and what we are doing because it’s brought into a position where we are contending for a championship.”
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