Why Iniesta is better than Messi and Ronaldo
Europe’s football governing body, Uefa, has short-listed three players - Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Andrès Iniesta – as nominees for the prestigious European Player of the Year 2012 Award. The winner will be announced when this year’s draws for the Uefa Champion’s League will be held in Monaco.
Many expect this to be the usual two-way race between Ronaldo and Messi but personally I feel no player deserves it more than Andrès Iniesta. Who is Iniesta you may ask compared to these two giants?
Andrés Iniesta Luján was born on 11 May 1984 in Spain. He is a midfielder, measures 1m 70 and is currently, in my opinion, the best midfielder in the world. His current club is Barcelona and,wait for it, at the club and national level, he has won every title winnable by a European football player.
Iniesta is such a shy and reserved person that he just goes about playing his football, hardly ever complaining that some would be forgiven for not knowing how influential he is, or who he is, in a football world today where “showmanship” helps to attract attention.
At a very young age he joined the Barcelona Youth Academy, la Mesia, and is one of its most successful products. Iniesta is a very decisive player and has always been.
At age 14, he captained the Barcelona Under-15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup of 1999, scored the winning goal in the last minute of the final and was named player of the tournament.
A feat he repeated once again one summer afternoon in South Africa (the 2010 World Cup finals), scoring the winning goal that crowned his fatherland, Spain, world champions for the first time in their history.
At the club level his performances have propelled Barcelona to great heights. He has been a central point of this club for the past 10 years.
The European best player award is given to any player, European or not, who plays his club football in Europe or performed on European soil and in most cases moves on to win the Fifa World player of the year at the end of the year.
At the club level, his team Barcelona lost the title of champions of Spain to Real Madrid, lost the champions league to Chelsea at the semifinal stages but won the Copa Del Rey in Spain.
At the national team level, Iniesta guided Spain to a record-breaking second consecutive European championship. He was the only player who was at his best from the opening game through to the final game, where they outclassed Italy 4-0 to win the title. This made Spain, in the process, the first nation ever to win three major titles in a row. With Iniesta around, who says they will not make it four titles in a row come the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The world talks a lot, rightfully I must add, of Messi’s capabilities as a player, but we are quick to not notice the ease the playing style of Iniesta brings to Lionel Messi’s game. What is Iniesta’s style?
Iniesta is a player who is always mobile, playable by a teammate, with the added guarantee that when played he will not lose the ball, will move the team metres forward into the opponents area and further advance his team’s cause of victory, thereby being instrumental to Barcelona’s “Tiki Taka” style of play.
His movements on the pitch of play are very tactical, sideways when necessary and rarely with his back to the opponent, thereby further highlighting his mobility.
He is a master dribbler and in small areas or space can wiggle his way through several opponents and deliver deadly goal assists to teammates .
When the odds are down he is one player you can count on to deliver. Do we remember the famous semifinal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge some years ago when he scored the extra time equaliser that sent Barcelona into the finals and eventually on to conquer the Champions League ?
His passing of the ball is second to none, especially in offensive areas. He has vision and reads the game and opponents so well that he is able to know where to orient his movements.
Unlike Ronaldo and Messi, Iniesta does all what he does while still carrying out defensive duties for his team. He participates actively in his team’s ball recuperation as opposed to ‘cosmetic’ defending done by Messi and Ronaldo for the team.
I feel, for once this player needs to be rewarded for his selfless style of play, the work rate he brings to the football pitch, the humility in his personality and the all-round success he has achieved this past soccer season.
In contrast to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are highly contested for their relative regime drops when they wear their national team colours, this is a player who is world class at both the club and national team level, as epitomised by his European championship title that he won with Spain just weeks ago in Ukraine /Poland. Let’s hail this great of European football: Andrés Iniesta Luján!