Thursday, July 28, 2011

INFTH Top 100: Numbers 3 and 4 Andres Iniesta- Of the top five spots, three and four were the hardest to differentiate. There were only two candidates to decide between, unfortunately, they were a pair so inseparable, that ranks four and three came down to a coin flip.

Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta have won quite a lot over the last few years; two midfielders with varying styles, they are the heartbeat of FC Barcelona.

While Xavi prefers to play the passes from deep, Iniesta works in a more advanced role, either down the center or cutting in from the wing. Since scoring a last minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge in 2009, Iniesta has developed a penchant for finding the net when in matters most; Holland certainly know how Chelsea felt in '09...

Iniesta is not the most prolific goalscorer of his generation, but nevertheless, nine goals in all competitions last season seems fairly low for someone playing in arguably the best attacking side of all time. However, no Barcelona midfielder really needs to be hitting upwards of twenty a season, after all, they have a little man upfront who can more than make up for the deficiencies of his colleagues further back...

At age twenty-seven, Andres Iniesta will compete in one more round of international tournaments before retiring, though, with World Cup and European Championship winners medals already in the bag, the pressure for him to deliver will not be unbearable. At Barcelona too, Iniesta has time to secure a few more major titles before calling it a day; though next season is set to herald an even greater challenge from La Liga rivals Real Madrid. Xavi Hernandez- Possibly the most classic example of a regista that the modern game has to offer, Xavi is the man who keeps Barcelona ticking over. With hundreds of completed passes every game, the little Spaniard is a master prober, the ultimate cause of the inevitable frustration felt by sides trying to get the ball off of the Barca midfield.

With three Champions Leagues, a World Cup and a European Championsip, Xavi Hernandez is quite simply the finest deep lying creator that the World has ever seen. His composure on the ball is simply breathtaking, his movement off it even more so and only a fool would ever attempt to close him down. Xavi always has options to either side of him, and always an idea running through his head; some of the passes seem pointless, but all are part of his master plan to break down the opponent.

Some people like to point fingers at Xavi, saying that he doesn't score enough. But Xavi doesn't need to score. He plays in a system reliant on the goalscoring of a front three, not the midfield, and has enjoyed extreme success without ever finding the net more than four times in a season. Xavi's role is not to rack up impressive statistics himself, but to allow others to do so; a job on the pitch which reflects his own shy personality. Such a shame for the modest Xavi, that people are beginning to pick up on his brilliance!

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