January Break Report: Andres Iniesta

David Ramos

Still a few days left until the league starts back up again, so today we look at FC Barcelona's magician. What do you think of Andres Iniesta's performance so far?

Andres Iniesta could retire tomorrow and still go down as one of the all-time greats.

At barely 22 years old, he began a play that ended in a Samuel Eto'o equalizer against Arsenal in the Champions League final. Barca would go on to win 2-1.

Two days before his 25th birthday, he scored a goal in the last seconds of a CL semifinal return leg as 10-man Barcelona defeated Chelsea on away goals.

At 26, he settled a 1-0 win with an extra-time goal against The Netherlands in a World Cup final.

Now, he is 28 and certainly not done.

His legend continues to rise, as he is again in the three-man shortlist for the Ballon D'Or, football's most prestigious individual award. He was named player of the tournament at Euro 2012 in the summer and won the UEFA Best Player Award this year as well.

Iniesta is known for his great skill on the ball and elegant passing. With 12 assists and 1.8 key passes per game, the man from Fuentealbilla leads the team in both departments

A silky player, Iniesta is nicknamed "El Ilusionista" - the illusionist - because of his ability to hide the ball from opponents. Despite not being the fastest player, he is capable of runs that would make Lionel Messi proud. In fact, he is second on the team behind Messi in successful dribbles.

His skill on the ball is awe-inspiring, and if you don't think so, you haven't watched what he did against Spartak Moscow.

Not a great scorer by volume, he has contributed three goals so far nonetheless. Perhaps his biggest weakness has been dealing with niggling injuries. Despite being one of the top three players by consensus and still in good years physically, he is tenth in the team in appearances behind the likes of David Villa (whom some insist is frustrated with a lack of minutes.)

Whether playing as an attacking midfielder or left-winger, Iniesta contributes great dribbling, inspired passing, and ball retention. His telepathic link with Xavi makes them together one of the most fearsome midfield duos in history - if not the most fearsome ever.

Lowest point:

Even the best have bad days at the office, and for Iniesta this season it was an early league match against Osasuna. He lacked involvement in the buildup - his 64 touches were only good enough for 8th best on the team. But more than that, he missed crucial chances in a very tight match (Barca were losing for a considerable period before a Messi brace rescued the three points).

Looking at the match thread, some comments seem to be referencing another player: "Iniesta should be putting those away", "Iniesta missed badly", "Iniesta misfiring", "What is wrong with Iniesta today?"

He was subbed out at 70 minutes; thankfully, it was just a blip.

Highest point:

There have been many memorable moments from El Ilusionista, including a vital equalizer in the win against Celtic at the Camp Nou, and a stunning backheel assist for Messi's record-breaking goal.

However, his best game was against Levante in the league. He began things with two brilliant assist for Messi to finish, before adding his own goal with a laser-guided shot from outside the box. To finish off the night, he completed his assisting hat trick by feeding Cesc Fabregas. Iniesta 4-0 Levante.

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