FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Andrés Iniesta

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 03: Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sporting Gijon at Camp Nou on March 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 3-1. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Report: Depending on who you ask Andrés Iniesta had a career year last season. Some will disagree and say it was the year prior but some will try to make a case for this season. There is no denying Iniesta was once again sublime for FC Barcelona this season but there would've been simply no doubt about which season was his best had he just been able to stay healthy this year.

Iniesta was injured three times throughout the season and all three times he was bothered by a hamstring injury. The team itself didn't necessarily struggle without him on the pitch but because of the injuries Iniesta couldn't really reach peak form until late in the season. And yes, I'm actually trying to say that despite Iniesta's terrific play throughout the season he was not playing in top form for most of it.

And with that in mind Iniesta still scored eight goals (second highest total in his career) and added 13 assists. Those statistics are very comparable to last season's but there is one difference - this season Iniesta spent nearly 1000 minutes less on the pitch and yet he nearly bested his last year's totals.

A lot of virtual (and actual) ink has been used on how Iniesta should only be used on the wing as a last resort and should therefore predominantly feature in the center of the midfield. However, Pep Guardiola apparently didn't agree and used Iniesta on the wing almost as he used him in the midfield. Iniesta is still better than most wingers are on the wing but this way the midfield duo of Iniesta-Xavi gets broken up which usually was not good news. Placed on the wing Iniesta often found himself cut off from the play and his accurate passing didn't have such an effect as it did in the midfield.

But honestly I'm nitpicking here as there is just so difficult to find a flaw in Iniesta's game during the season. And his terrific play continued after the club season had ended.

Iniesta, as I said before, appeared to reach top gear late in the season which was noticeable in Barcelona's good scoring form and even more after the club season ended in the EURO 2012. He might not have scored and only added one assist in six games but he was constant threat and was named Player of the Tournament.

Fcbsoul's View: Ummm....... where should I start? When I wrote reviews for Alves and Valdes my job was easier as I had both positive and negative points. But when I started to write it for Iniesta getting both positives and negatives was difficult (negatives are very very very few, if any).

Thinking of Iniesta you will not remember many goals, but your mind will flash to before them when you saw that amazing skill set which he keeps on showing day in day out, whether injured or not. One highlight is definitely when he dedicates the celebration to his daughter, Valeria, with a finger in his mouth. Super Andresmo!!! To be honest I prefer when Iniesta is playing as a left midfielder rather than winger. He is a great winger for Spain but somehow for Barca he is not at his best there.

I was reading this book by Graham Hunter (worth a read by the way) and while I knew this before but the way Hunter mentioned how Iniesta caught his break and from where he started, keeping his cool and waiting for his moment is superb. This season with David Villa and Jordi Alba to his left and Xavi, Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets to his right it should be a sight to see.

This season was not Barça's best as per standards they have set themselves. Attackers missing chances and defenders making silly mistakes at crucial times it was up to the midfield to step up and they did. With Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and also Messi they have handled the game pretty well. I don't remember which game it was but Iniesta was so frustrated that we were not scoring he decided to go for it himself with a long range shot. It would have been Chelsea part 2 but a good reaction by the keeper saved it. Actually, it would've been Chelsea part 3; Chelsea part 2 was against L'Hospitalet where we could only manage a 1 - 0 victory thanks to super Andresmo.

Moment of the Season: When one scores a goal like Iniesta did against L'Hospitalet it's difficult to pick anything else at this point. In hindsight that goal was probably one of the least important ones of the season because Barça won the return leg by the score of 9-0 but at that point Iniesta's golazo was the only difference between the two Catalan sides. Barcelona struggled that day against L'Hospitalet but Iniesta made everybody forget all about that.

Andres Iniesta wonderful goal vs Hospitalet (via belkadimus999)

Stats:

Appearances 46
Games started 39
Started on the bench 12
Substitute in 7
Substitute out 18
Minutes played 3354
Goals scored 8
Assists 13
Shots 75
Shots on goal 25
Fouls committed 31
Fouls suffered 82
Yellow cards 6
Red cards 0

Record with Andrés Iniesta in the starting lineup: 29-8-2

2012/13 Outlook: The biggest question about Iniesta going into next season is can he stay healthy? If he's healthy there's nobody better than Iniesta and if he can put together an injury-free season then opponents beware. If Iniesta will be utilized correctly, meaning playing alongside Xavi in the center of the midfield, Barcelona has the potential to once again mow down every team playing against them. If Iniesta manages to start about 45 games next season, which is a realistic target, he will not only have a very good chance of improving all his personal records but FC Barcelona should also benefit greatly.

Next Up: Cesc Fabregas

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