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How highly do you rate Andreas Iniesta


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Name me 3 big games where xavi has turned up

Or 2 that he has outperformed iniesta ?

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  • 9 months later...




Late summer 2008. Barcelona lose 1–0 in Soria against little Numancia on the opening day of the league season. A tough baptism for the debutant coach, Pep Guardiola, made all the harder when the result isn’t much better in their second game against Racing Santander, a 1–1 draw at the Camp Nou. Two weeks into Guardiola’s career in charge of Barcelona’s first team and they still haven’t won.

Pressure builds, the criticism is intense. But Guardiola remains steadfast. Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez, then two virtually unknown players from Tercera División, Spain’s fourth tier, are in the team. There are doubts, of course. Concerns.

In the media, it seems that only one voice defends the manager, but at least it is the voice: Johan Cruyff. That softens the blow, his authority alone enough to challenge the doomsayers, but still they prophesise doom. “This Barcelona looks very, very good,” Cruyff writes in his weekly column for El Periódico de Catalunya. “I don’t know what game the rest of you watched; the one I watched was unlike any I have seen at the Camp Nou in a long time.” Cruyff, the great ideologue of the Catalan club, its philosopher king, had seen Guardiola coach the B team and was impressed; now he stands against the tide, alone in defending him. “The worst start to a season in many years. Just one goal scored, and that was a penalty. That’s an inescapable truth, numerically speaking,” he admits. “But in footballing terms, this must be read a different way. And Guardiola is the first to read it differently. He’s no novice, lacking expertise, and he is not suicidal. He watches, he sees, he analyses and he takes decisions.”

Guardiola himself agonised over those decisions too. He was holed up in his Camp Nou office, down in the basement where there was no natural light, going over the situation again and again, rewinding and replaying the videos, re-reading his notes, wondering what to change but convinced of one thing: his idea, Cruyff’s idea, had to be maintained. He would persevere, however hard it became. And support was about to come from an unexpected source.

He was still going over it, endlessly, when he heard a knock at the door. “Come in.”

“Hello, míster.”

A small figure poked his head around the door, and spoke calmly. “Don’t worry, míster. We’ll win it all. We’re on the right path. Carry on like this, OK? We’re playing brilliantly, we’re enjoying training. Please, don’t change anything,” said Andrés Iniesta.

Guardiola couldn’t believe it.

The request was short, but heartfelt, deep. It caught Guardiola off guard, barely able even to respond. If it was a surprise that anyone should seek him out to say that, it was even more of a surprise that it was Iniesta, usually the silent man. It came as a shock, even more so when Iniesta closed by saying: “¡Vamos de puta madre!”

“De puta madre,” roughly translated as, “We’re in fucking great shape, we’re playing bloody brilliantly.”

“This year we’re going to steamroller them all,” he added.

And then he closed the door and left.

That’s Andrés. He doesn’t say much, only what he really has to. It’s like scoring goals: he doesn’t score often, either. But when it’s needed, there he is.

Guardiola will never forget Cruyff defending him in print. And he will never forget Andrés appearing at his door. He’ll never forget that they were right, too. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Barcelona had won six titles. All six.

“People usually think that it is the coach who has to raise the spirits of his players; that it is the coach who has to convince his footballers; that it is his job to take the lead all the time,” says Guardiola. “But that’s not always the case. It wasn’t the case at the Camp Nou for me, and in my first year at Bayern Munich something similar happened as well. It’s not often things like that happen and when they do, they rarely come to light. People always think the coach is the strongest person at a club, the boss, but in truth he’s the weakest link. We’re there, vulnerable, undermined by those who don’t play, by the media, by the fans. They all have the same objective: to undermine the manager.

“You start, you lose at Numancia, you draw with Racing, you just can’t get going, you feel watched and you feel alone and then suddenly, there’s Andrés telling me not to worry,” Guardiola continues. “It’s hard to imagine, because it’s not the kind of thing that happens and because it’s Iniesta we’re talking about, someone who doesn’t find it easy to express his feelings. And after he’d gone, I asked myself: how can people say that coaches should be cold when they make decisions? Impersonal? That’s ridiculous! How can I be cold, distant, removed with Andrés? Sorry, no way. Eighty-six per cent of people didn’t believe in me [according to an online poll]. Lots of people wanted Mourinho. We hadn’t won, hadn’t got going. And then Andrés comes and says that?! How am I supposed to be cold? It’s impossible. Sod that! This goes deeper. This isn’t cold, calculated, and nor should it be. There’s no doubt: Andrés will play with me, always. Because he’s the best. And because things like that don’t get forgotten. Why did he come to my office? I don’t know.”

Lorenzo Buenaventura is a part of Guardiola’s coaching staff, in charge of physical preparation. He has followed Pep from Barcelona to Bayern and from there to Manchester City. He shares this memory with Pep now, offers up an answer too.

“Why? I suppose because that’s the way he felt; I suppose because it mattered to him,” he says. “Andrés doesn’t do anything he doesn’t truly believe in; he does it because it feels right to him. He’s genuine, always.” Guardiola concedes: “Maybe he spoke out because he could see that there was a method we were following, that everyone was training well, that we explained to them why we did things the way we did, and above all because that was the kind of football that he had been brought up on, ever since he was little.”

“There were other players who sent us little messages,” Buenaventura insists. “That’s true,” Guardiola admits. “But Andrés’ message was powerful. How could I forget that? I can still see him standing there at the door, looking at me. ‘De puta madre.’ And then he left. I thought: ‘Well, if Andrés says so …’”

Andrés and Cruyff were proven right; Guardiola’s decision to maintain that philosophy was vindicated. In week three, Barcelona scored six against Sporting Gijón and never looked back; everything fell into place, it all worked so smoothly. Within a few months, they had become a model to aspire to. Not just because of the results – no one had won a treble in Spain before, still less six trophies from six – but because of the way they played, the way they treated the ball, fans, even opponents. Theirs was a different approach, a way of seeing and expressing football that was embodied by players like Iniesta.

“We never seem to treat Andrés the way we should; we don’t seem to recognise him. He’s the absolute business as a player,” Guardiola says. “He never talks about himself, never demands anything, but people who think he’s satisfied just to play are wrong. If he thought he could win the Balon d’Or one year, he’d want to win it. Why? Because he’d say to himself: ‘I’m the best.’

“I think Paco defined him perfectly,” Guardiola says. Paco Seirulo was Barcelona’s former physical coach, the man from whom Lorenzo Buenaventura learnt; now Guardiola makes Seirulo’s description his own. “Andrés is one of the greats. Why? Because of his mastery of the relationship between space and time. He knows where he is at every moment. Even in a midfield where he’s surrounded by countless players, he chooses the right path every time. He knows where and when, always. And then he has this very unique ability to pull away. He pulls out, then brakes, then pulls out again, then brakes again. There are very few players like him.

“There are footballers who are very good playing on the outside but don’t know what to do inside. Then there are players who are very good inside but don’t have the physique, the legs, to go outside. Andrés has the ability to do both. When you’re out on the touchline, like a winger, it is easier to play. You see everything: the mess, the crowd, the activity is all inside. When you play inside, you don’t see anything in there because so much is happening in such a small space and all around you. You don’t know where the opposition is going to come at you from, or how many of them. Great footballers are those who know how to play in both of those environments. Andrés doesn’t only have the ability to see everything, to know what to do, but also the talent to execute it; he’s able to break through those lines. He sees it and does it.

“I’ve been a coach for a few years now and I have come to the conclusion that a truly good player is always a good player,” Guardiola says. “It’s very hard to teach a bad player to be a good one. You can’t really teach someone to dribble. The timing needed to go past someone, that instant in which you catch out your opponent, when you go past him and a new scenario opens up before you … Dribbling is, at heart, a trick, a con. It’s not speed. It’s not physique. It’s an art.”

Lorenzo Buenaventura says: “What happens is that Andrés brakes. That’s the key, the most important thing. People say: ‘Look how quick he is!’ No, no, that’s not the point. It’s not about speed, about how fast he goes; what it’s really about is how he stops and when, then, how he gets moving again.”

Guardiola adds: “Tito Vilanova defined him very well. Tito used to say: ‘Andrés doesn’t run, he glides. He’s like an ice hockey player, only without skates on. Sssswishhh, sssswishhh, sssswishhhh …’ That description is evocative, very graphic, and I think it’s an accurate one. He goes towards one side as if he was skating, watching everything that’s going on around him. Then, suddenly, he turns the other way with that smoothness he has. Yes, that’s it, Andrés doesn’t run, he glides.”

Guardiola adds: “Sometimes in life, it’s first impressions that count and the first impression I have of Andrés was the day my brother Pere, who was working for Nike at the time, told me about Iniesta. I was still playing for Barcelona myself and he said: ‘Pep, you’ve got to come and see this kid.’ It was before the final of the Nike Cup. I remember getting changed quickly after training and rushing there, dashing to the stadium. And yes, I saw how good he was. I told myself: ‘This kid will play for Barcelona, for sure … he’s going to make it.’ I told myself that, and I told Pere that too.

“On my way out of the ground after that final when Andrés was the best player on the pitch, I came across Santiago Segurola, the football writer. I said to him: ‘I’ve just seen something incredible.’ I had this feeling that what I’d just witnessed was unique. That was my first impression of Andrés.

“But later,” Guardiola admits, “I came to really value something else Andrés does, something that he had made me see with time: the importance of attacking the centre-backs. No one does it. But watch and you see it. If the central defender has to step out, everything opens up; the whole defence becomes disorganised and spaces appear that weren’t there before. It’s all about breaking through lines to find space behind them. Open, then find.

“For example, we set up our attack so that Leo Messi could attack the central defenders,” Guardiola explains. “We had to attack in such a way as to get the ball to Andrés and Leo so that they could attack the central defenders and that opened them up. When we managed that, we knew that we would win the game because Leo scored goals and Andrés generated everything else: dribbling, numerical superiority, the ability to unbalance the game, the final pass, both to the outside and filtered through the middle. He sees it all and he has that gift for dribbling that’s so unique to him. That dribbling ability is everything today. And it was Andrés who opened my eyes to the importance of an inside forward or midfielder being able to dribble too. If he dribbles, if he carries the ball and goes at people, everything flows. With time, I saw that.”


Great read


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  • 1 year later...
On 07/05/2009 at 5:18 PM, Guest Jogo Bonito said:

I remember the Fabregas v Iniesta debate during the Euros on here.Iniesta is too much still.


On 07/05/2009 at 5:29 PM, Eskay Jones said:

Best in his position? i dunno, Steven Gerrard or Lampard.


On 08/06/2015 at 11:47 AM, Seydou said:


Then comes Zidane


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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for so much football

I still remember the first time I saw andres play. I was in youth: Him, in the child. Someone at the club says to me: ' Xavi, down there is a boy who is going to be hell. They say it's great! ' there is him and another, troiteiro, who comes to be like Mario Rosas. Andrés looks a lot like you But when I saw him play, I said to myself, " What's up! This doesn't look like me as they say! What's going on? This is different! ' this one has more exit, more dribble, you can go to a band, you can make a croquette. It's very different from me because I play four, much more positional, like pep in his time or busi now. Andrés, on the other hand, could play ' four ', of ' eight ', of ' SIX ' and even extreme. Already as a child he was seen as a teacher by the way he used the body before receiving the ball, using both legs to play. Now it may seem until normal, but at that time it was revolutionary because he was still doing a right-leg control that the next play was running with the left. What was most surprising was that style of yours to guide the ball with the body, without even touching it.

You saw him play and it was a show. What you thought outside, he did it in the field. It looked like I even listened to your thoughts. Then I did it so naturally that I felt like I didn't even think about it. Andrés associated himself, always played with his head up, didn't lose balls. I mean, concepts that we had been working with Joan Vilà for years and that he was in his body from origin. ' fuck, it's four years younger than us, but this kid takes it innate '. Andrés is, for me, the most talented player in Spain's history, that I have seen, uh?. Has a spectacular talent. If we talk about the person, it's a scandal. An admirable uncle in every way. Exemplary, altruistic, empathetic, team player, winner, field leader, always wants the ball. Do people know what that means? When many don't want the ball or paint because it's a trap, he always asks. Andrés always loves her. When other players think " ay, ay, ay " or " No, don't give it to me, please, not now ", andrés came and said, " come on, give it to me. Give it to me now, please ".

It's a blessing to others. That's having personality, that's being a real leader. Silent Leader, but real leader. Me, that my whole life was a pin, needed players like andrés, like Leo, like busi. You've been the best partners I've ever had. They always gave you the right exit as bad as the picture was. I don't know where, but andrés always showed me at the right time. Look at me, I'm here! ' but he didn't tell me. Nor have we been talking much in the field and what we have played together for more than 10 years. You didn't have to. We understood each other with the look. His body language was the best way to communicate. It is also true that andrés has come out of purely academic. Sometimes, during the games we stayed looking at him. ' but what the hell did he do? How did he escape? If it was impossible! ' he felt that there were no impossible things for him when he connected with the ball. Dribble, last pass, acceleration, wall, imbalance, is happy playing inside, is happy glued to the band. He's a teacher, a true teacher.

Besides, people thought andrés wasn't strong. ' that if you were little! ' if you were weak! Flimsy? Not much less. When he puts the body, they don't take the ball away. It's strong, but really strong. Look at how many matches he played in his career. It's been exemplary until this. In the end, mentality is the key to everything. And He's been very strong in everything, especially in those bad moments that many don't know. He had a hard time living away from his family and now I'm sure if they ask him he'll say that sacrifice was worth it. But who knew this would end like this? Who was gonna guarantee it? No one. It's so hard, so hard, so complicated, so long. The most normal thing is not to arrive. But that very strong mentality you have is the one that made you come here. In the end, Andrés is a guy who has angel. Don't ask me why, but he does. It's like iker casillas. The rest don't have it; they do. They have angel because at the right moment they get you out of the top hat the winning pass, winning stop, winning ball, winning goal. We have lived with andrés at barça, in the selection. At Stamford Bridge, in Johannesburg, even at that children's finale at camp nou, when I went to see him with pep, we were both on the first team, marking the golden goal in that game. Look what happened in the world. If anyone has time and you want me to watch the match against Holland. No, I'm not just talking about the goal. If you review the final, you'll realize what you really did. But why did andrés mark the goal? Because I had to mark him. It couldn't be another.

Who could it be? Someone with angel. I mean, Andrés. An honest person, a real worker. And remember now that they said we couldn't play together... you know, machine. This is barça! A club full of debates. I felt bad for him because I always said that I need by my side people who associate. I understand better with those of technical quality, not with physicists. Of course those strong players are important, but look at Andrés, Leo and busi. I was traumatized by those debates that said barça needed muscle. What are you telling me? The most important muscle to play football is the brain, as cruyff said. It is the most important and valuable. It is true that we both suffer in silence. We're both very quiet. That's why I'm very attuned to andrés. I'm like him. I'd rather shut up and impose myself where I should, in the field: ' okay, three new players come, because I'm perfect for fucking mother!

I'm going to compete with those three even if they cost 250 million pesetas! I will prove that I can be barça footballer! ' that is the mentality he had on his day andrés or the's, for example, with Yaya Touré. The one who doesn't think like that goes down. There are two options: Rebel like we did or fall into discouragement thinking you won't get out of this one.


- Xavi 

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