Though one player doesn’t make a team, there are often talismanic players who are the fulcrum.
Lionel Messi at Barcelona would be the easiest of examples, Harry Kane at Tottenham is another and, prior to the season just gone, Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool could be considered vital to the way the Reds play.
Then you have Iago Aspas at Celta Vigo.
Frankly, he is Mr. Celta, and when Aspas plays well so do the Galicians. It’s as if he elevates the whole squad to a level above that which they normally play, and it’s happened on more than one occasion against Barcelona.
Indeed, he’s become something of a nemesis to Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and since 2015 Aspas has scored 10 goals against Barcelona according to transfermarkt.
That’s a decent output against the Blaugranes for any striker, let alone one who plays for a club that generally hover around mid-table.
The final game of the 2022/23 Spanish top-flight season sees Barca travel to Balaidos to play a team that have won just once in the last 10 matches - against bottom club Elche.
In four of those games, Celta have failed to score, and Ter Stegen will be hoping to make it five from the last 11 on Sunday.
Should the German manage another shut out, he will make history for having the most clean sheets achieved in a single season in the top five European leagues.
He’s currently level with Paco Liano who managed 26 for Deportivo way back in the 1993/94 campaign.
Having already surpassed Petr Cech’s 25 clean sheets to set a new record for the 21st century, ter Stegen is just 90 minutes away from setting a mark that will surely never be toppled.
The 35-year-old Aspas has been used sparingly over the last five games, playing the full 90 minutes on a single occasion against Getafe.
He hasn’t scored in his last 10 league games, but his 12 goals over the course of the season are still more than a quarter of Celta’s total of 41 - and he remains ter Stegen’s Kryptonite.
The hosts are also in grave danger of being relegated.
Just one point separates them from Valladolid who are at home to Getafe, so a full-to-the-brim Balaidos and a full throttle Celta is to be expected.
Keeping the likes of Gabri Veiga, ex-Barca man Carles Perez and Fran Beltran quiet is key to Ter Stegen’s aspirations too, and even though the Catalans have lost just twice in the last eight to this opponent, they’ve only stopped them scoring on two occasions (via Fussball Wettpoint).
Given the excellent season he’s had, earning the all-time record would be well deserved for Ter Stegen. Here’s hoping he gets it.