Report: There is no other way to put this, but Andres Iniesta had an excellent season. Though his goal total dropped the lowest mark since the 2009-10 season, the number of assists increased greatly from seasons past. It was evident that it was going to be a special year for Iniesta simply from the opening few games of the season where apart from Lionel Messi there was nobody better on the pitch.
There was a fear that Iniesta's form was going to drop after he suffered an adductor muscle strain in mid-September, forcing him to miss four games. But it was an irrational fear as Iniesta didn't lose a step in his time away from the football pitch. In fact he actually might have gotten better. Beginning in late November Iniesta went on a run of eight games in which he had at least a goal or an assist.
Until February Iniesta made a large majority of appearances at left wing, a position where he failed to consistently impress under Pep Guardiola. The story was different during Tito Vilanova's tenure as he was given a different role. Iniesta didn't need to play wide to stretch the field, Jordi Alba helped in that regard, but was given much more freedom. It was a role Iniesta was much more comfortable with.
But it wasn't all peachy with Iniesta on the wing. This system had its flaws and they became very exposed in games like the Champions League first leg against AC Milan. In fact, that was the last match that Iniesta started on the left wing. Playing the remainder of the season at his natural center midfielder position Iniesta formed a familiar creative duo with Xavi. But playing further away from the goal had its disadvantages as Iniesta only scored two goals and assisted on another four in the last four months of the season.
Iniesta was also very impressive with the Spanish National side where he was a key member of the team that won the 2012 European Championship and finished second in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Playing mostly as a central midfielder Iniesta made 22 appearances over the last 13 months for Spain. During that stretch he failed to find the back of the net, but he did help his team out with five assists.
Iniesta was rewarded for his consistency when he finished third in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or voting behind only Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Iniesta did win the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award ahead of the previously mentioned duo.
Moment of the season: Throughout the season Iniesta had many sublime performances, but none were better than the one goal, three assist game against Levante in November. Playing on the left wing Iniesta was crucially involved in all four Barcelona goals. It was as close to a perfect game a player can have, the only thing you could hold against Iniesta was the fact that he "only" completed 89% of his passing attempts.
La Liga | Levante UD - FC Barcelona (0-4) | 25-11-2012 | J13 | Resumen (via La Liga)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||7.44|
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Andres Iniesta in the starting lineup: 27-6-7
2013-14 Outlook: With the arrival of Neymar expect Iniesta to play almost exclusively in the midfielder, primarily with Xavi as his partner. With the midfield depth looking a bit thin I would not be surprised to see Iniesta play quite a few more minutes than he did this year. That combined with what looks to be the most dangerous attack in years Iniesta's goal and assist numbers could also see an improvement.
Next Up: Xavi