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Andres Iniesta: FC Barcelona’s Unassuming Superstar

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It’s a great source of irritation for me when it comes to trying to describe a player with one word, when FC Barcelona has so many great players. Ask any fan in the world today, on who is the best player in the world and the reply will most likely be Lionel Messi. I would probably have to agree with them. After all it’s hard to argue with the stats but there is another player in Catalunya who is a close second and at times even better than La Pulga.

In my opinion FC Barcelona’s number 8 can be best described in two words: Unassuming and Silky, because that is exactly what (San) Andres Iniesta is. The shy, introverted midfielder is usually overlooked by opponents because of the fact that he plays for an all star team but therein lies the secret.

Iniesta is probably the most complete player in the world and unlike Messi (who isn’t always in the game) he never (and I really mean never) has a bad day on the pitch, but don’t take my word for it. Pep Guardiola once said of Xavi Hernandez "This kid will retire me" though when both watched Iniesta, he reportedly remarked "….and this kid will retire us both". World class players like Wayne Rooney and Samuel Eto’o championed Andres Iniesta is the best player in the world on one occasion or another.

If the slightly odd looking midfielder has been overshadowed by his team mates, then it is only fair that we compare him to one of them to truly comprehend his brilliance. If La Pulga gets me on the verge of a coronary every time he makes one of those high octane runs at a player, Andres Iniesta soothes the world and makes one think of a blues song with a glass of bourbon in his hand.

Silky, the word keeps appearing in my mind every time I think of this player. When I watch a Barca game, there are always two things I keep an eye out for (so that I may compare them and revel in their brilliance). On the one hand, you have the Flea, who gets a fan sitting on the edge of his seat and hoping for a finish just as electric as the run. On the other, there is silky Andres Iniesta who has a trait which I believe only the greatest midfielders are blessed with.

Andrés Iniesta - Skills And Goals HD (via Peitadetime)

Before I tell you what that is, think about what is expected from a midfielder. As a midfielder in a team like Barca, one is expected to keep possession, defend (by applying high pressure) and the most important, create space. Iniesta excels in executing the latter. He is one of those midfielders who has this annoying (to opponents) habit where he will present, or rather tease, the defender the ball and whisk it away at exactly the right moment. I am truly privileged to be able to witness that week in and week out (not if FIFA has anything to say about it of course). The ball is right there for everyone to see and almost begging to be lost and then with one smooth and ‘silky’ move, it’s gone.

I believe it’s extremely unfortunate that fans and the media alike choose to shower praises on Leo and tend to overlook Iniesta. If the Argentine is the world’s best player then it is mostly due to his outrageous statistics. But isn’t that per definition what is to be expected off a forward? Without taking anything away from the Argentine, there is some truth to the accusations that he isn’t as good for the Argentinian National Team because he doesn’t have the support from his midfield as he does enjoy in Barcelona.

Now think about that other midfielder in Barca. In Xavi Hernandez, the Blaugrana have the perfect central midfielder. He keeps the ball ticking over and almost never misplaces a pass. But there is something lacking when you compare him to Iniesta isn’t there? Andres scores more goals and has this uncanny ability to score goals when his team needs it most. I remember watching the Champions League Semifinals between Chelsea FC and Barca and I swear when Iniesta sent that curving bullet to the top right corner of the goal, along with the sudden release of tension I couldn’t stop a single tear drop. The man was instantly my hero because somewhere in between all that brilliant dribbling and pin point passes, he showed up just when the team needed.

Andrés Iniesta 2010/2011 - Best Skills And Goals |HD| (via karthikmilan42004)

From his middle class background to Spain’s favorite player, Andres Iniesta won the country’s unconditional love on the 11th of July, 2010 when he scored a match winning goal in the 116th minute against Netherlands in the World Cup Finals. In a match that was supposed to be the clash of titans, the Dutch destroyed the very essence of the beautiful game by opting for an extremely physical approach and it would have been a shame if they had gone on to win the game but Iniesta wasn’t going to allow that to happen. In a recent interview when he was asked about that career defining moment, the midfielder had this to say:

"I knew we were going to be world champions, it was now or never. When the ball came to me I just had to wait for gravity to do its job and then hit it. I knew the 'keeper would not get to it. It had been a tough season with injuries and I knew I had suffered a lot to be given this one last bullet."

And what a bullet it was, Cesc Fabregas who was substituted for Xabi Alonso played the perfect pass and Iniesta finished in style. At 27 years of age, the Blaugrana’s attacking midfielder seems to give people the impression that his best is yet to come. With each passing year, Iniesta shows the world just what he’s capable of, which seems to be everything; he can run at defenders, he can run past defenders. He can make short passes and has the vision and the ability for long balls over the defense. Don Andres can thread the perfect through ball and if one were to compare his stats in the last two years, it seems his eye for goal is also improving.

In his humility and simplicity, traits that he shows on and off the pitch, FC Barcelona has the world’s most complete player. Andres Iniesta truly is FC Barcelona’sunassuming superstar.

Inder Methil

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