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Barcelona's Andres Iniesta Proves vs. PSG That He's the Ultimate Big Game Player

Andres Iniesta was class against PSG, but have we actually been underrating him this whole season?

David Ramos/Getty Images

When we're old, it may be hard to explain what made Andres Iniesta so special to people who never saw him play.

For a player of his magnitude, his stats are actually quite underwhelming.

He's yet to score or assist in the Liga, and before you go with your #LuchoOut, let's face the facts. Iniesta has never been about numbers.

In his 540 appearances for Barcelona, he's scored 53 goals. That's a fairly small number for the most advanced midfielder in an offense as high-powered as Barcelona's.

Last season, he scored 3 goals across all competitions. One was a penalty in a 4-0 win and another a goal in a 7-0 rout of Granada. His last? A scorcher in a 4-3 thriller over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. He doesn't score all that often, but he makes them count.

Three may sound like a paltry number but he's only averaged less than 5 goals a season across all competitions since he's become a regular. The 2008-09 season serves as a good example. Iniesta scored 5 that term, of varying importance, but none as critical as his last one:

For Spain, Iniesta's ratio of World Cup winning goals to total goals is 1:11. He was the best player in their Euro 2012 triumph despite not having a goal or an assist.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that despite not having any assists in the league, the Pale Knight leads the Champions League (tied with Lionel Messi) in assists with 4.

Iniesta's ridiculous run and assist vs Paris Saint-Germain was just another reminder.

Questions are being asked of him, which is fair.

True, Luis Enrique has changed his role. He's changed everyone's (by different amounts, of course). Iniesta is being asked to defend more. It's not necessarily his strength, true.

However to say Iniesta is poor because he's changed roles does him a disservice in an attempt to defend him. True, this system isn't to his strengths, but a player of his magnitude excels in most systems.

Lucho isn't asking him to play right-back. What, Sergi Roberto can play every midfield spot but Iniesta can't even play an altered version of his regular spot?

Players go on and off form, it happens. But isn't it also possible we need to start appreciating Iniesta in a different light?

He's putting in the tackles more than ever, covering areas more than ever. He doesn't get to influence every game by passing or dribbling as much, but he doesn't get the ball as often.

The plays are going in quicker, with fewer touches, and sometimes bypassing the midfield and going towards the triumvirate of attackers. The results suggest this is a wise strategy. Iniesta need not be on the ball as often as he used to to maximize his effectiveness for the team.

All season he has sacrificed himself for the team. He may be missing sparkle but if that's what it takes to successfully run the system, he'll gladly do it.

Back to the original point. You can pull out every chart and heatmap and stat you want, and believe me, I think they're useful. But if there's a player you just feel, it's this one.

That dribble and pass was classic Iniesta, but in some manner, the whole season has been. It's no scandal if he finishes with less than five goals. Rather, it's totally in line with what we should expect.

What you need to look out for is those big moments, because someone as calm as he is thrives when everyone panics the most.

After the win against PSG, Iniesta was asked if the "best Iniesta" was "back."

His response? "I never left, although others see things in their own way."

People say Iniesta is a player blessed with superior vision. Maybe we should start seeing things his way more often.

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