It is worrying that in the era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, other players of extraordinary talent don’t get the recognition they deserve. These two have rightly monopolised the Ballon d’Or for the past five years thanks to their cyborg-like scoring records and football at its core is about outscoring the opposition.
But there is more to appreciate. A deeper joy to be found than simply seeing players score an unprecedented number of goals. Andres Iniesta provides this.
If Ronaldo and Messi are robots, then Iniesta is a magician. Now you see it, now you don’t; whether it is a killer pass, a feint to leave a defender trailing or a first touch to both welcome the ball in and defy physics simultaneously, he showcases most of what there is to love about the beautiful game.
Last Sunday against Getafe, Iniesta decided that it was time to open his box of tricks even wider than usual and produced a mesmerising display underneath the midday Catalan sun. Within 13 minutes he had won the game for Barcelona, providing passes that Alexis Sanchez and Messi could not fail to convert. The first one was especially good, as three opponents were left befuddled by the weight and precision of the assist. A perfect arc.
For the remainder of the contest he took centre stage, even outshining Messi by sprinkling gold dust across the Camp Nou. Prompting and probing, somehow finding space in what was effectively a flat-back eight and even poaching a goal for himself in one of the best individual performances of the season.
Iniesta usually saves his best showings for the biggest of games. He has scored a last minute winner in a Champions League semi-final before running the midfield in the final on one leg and also secured his country their first World Cup in extra time.
Iniesta deserves more attention.