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Xavi and Iniesta are not playing together anymore -- Why?

David Ramos/Getty Images

For many, many years, the duo of Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta has been the foundational piece of Barcelona's success. Their ability to create and control the game at the midfield were key to the glorious days during the Pep Guardiola Era.

But, as it always happens, Father Time kicks in. Last season, Xavi started to show physical decline. He was still consistently good with his brain, but his body wasn't catching up. Iniesta had to carry the midfield in many instances, and their subpar season contributed heavily to Barça's trophy-less campaign under Tata Martino.

With the arrival of new coach Luis Enrique, there were indications that the duo was not going to be featured as much. Xavi himself almost left the Catalans when told he wasn't going to play in every game. Ivan Rakitic was brought in as a clear replacement to Number Six, and as the season went on, we started seeing less and less of Xavi and Iniesta.

In fact, since the January 4th loss to Real Sociedad (when both of them started), the Amazing Duo has played together for a meaningless eleven minutes in the last fourteen games. The Blaugrana have a 13W-1L record in those matches. Of course it's not because of Iniesta and Xavi not being together anymore, but Luis Enrique clearly has the numbers to back his decision not to play the two at the same time.

Center Midfielder Minutes in 2015 (15 games):

Rakitic: 780

Iniesta: 761

Xavi: 404

Rafinha: 395

Sergi Roberto: 226

The rise of Ivan Rakitic in February can also explain why the Pass Brothers don't see each other on the field anymore. The Croatian has become an overwhelming starter, and his set of performances have helped Barça tremendously lately. Rafinha Alcântara has also played well as of late, and his consistent play is another reason why Xavi and Iniesta don't play together.

Luis Enrique has also introduced a more direct and physical tactical style in the second half of the season, a style that doesn't fit a pairing of two cerebral players like Xavi and Andrés.

However, whenever they play, together or not, they're still PRETTY, PRETTY GOOD.

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