If you’re a fan of Spanish football culture – and many are – then the new season in the Hyundai A-League will have a distinct flavour of Spain.
THE SPANISH INFLUENCE
Who can forget David Villa and Luis Garcia?
Two of Spain’s most decorated and famous footballers have spent short stints in the Hyundai A-League in recent seasons with Melbourne City and Mariners respectively.
And of course the Wanderers were captained by Spaniard Dimas last season (he’s now left to join an Indian club), while former La Liga striker John Aloisi and new Brisbane Roar coach was the catalyst for the now retired Corona to play in Australia for the Queensland outfit.
But this season will see the strongest Spanish influence to date.
Diego Castro has spent the last two Hyundai A-League seasons giving opposition defenders the most taxing of Spanish inquisitions.
“King Castro” is an absolute hero in Perth, spearheading the Glory’s charge to Finals Football in both seasons.
Castro won the A-League’s highest individual honour in his first season in Australia having scored 13 goals and notched four assists for Glory in Season 2015/16.
The former Getafe winger again bossed for Kenny Lowe’s men last season and has inspired a number of new Spanish signings to the league.
Likewise, over in Adelaide, Isaias has been practically an ever-present in the Adelaide United engine-room for the last four seasons, scoring that famous Grand Final goal accompanied by some classic commentary from Fox Sports’ Simon Hill (“Si Signor, Si!”).
And classy Spaniard Alan Baro anchored Victory’s defence last season before a switch to the Mariners for Season 2017/18.
NEW BLOOD FROM LA LIGA
Now, four more Spaniards have arrived to join their countrymen in the Hyundai A-League.
Andreu Guerao (Perth Glory)
Andreu has joined the club on a one-year deal and he will link up once again with compatriot and former Malaga and Sporting Gijon teammate Diego Castro.
A product of Barcelona’s legendary La Masia academy, Andreu played alongside the likes of Lionel Messi in the Catalan club’s ‘C’ and ‘B’ teams before moving on to Malaga ‘B’ where he spent the 2005-06 season.
It was at Malaga that he first crossed paths with future Glory teammate Castro and the pair duly combined again at Sporting Gijon where they helped the club secure promotion back to La Liga.
Álvaro Cejudo (WSW)
The exciting attacker chalked up 155 La Liga appearances with Real Betis and Osasuna, wreaking havoc from wide positions.
The versatile 26-year-old attacker has linked up with the Gosford outfit from Spanish second-tier side Las Palmas where he scored an impressive 26 goals in 77 appearances.
Oriol Riera (WSW)
Having arrived from La Liga side Deportivo de La Coruña, the imposing centre-forward has already endeared himself to the WSW faithful, heading home Wanderers’ winner in their round-of-32 Westfield FFA Cup win over Wellington.
WHAT IS LA LIGA?
This is the top level league in Spain.
And when you have Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the competition – and Spanish clubs being so successful in European competition – no wonder many believe it to be arguably the best in the world along with the English Premier League.
Below it is the next tier of league, called the “Segunda Division”, which also has a high technical level.
Stand by for more sensational skill and breathtaking moments from the Hyundai A-League’s Spanish contingent in the new season.
Tomorrow: King Castro’s Top 5 goals in the Hyundai A-League