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Andres Iniesta, the unassuming superstar

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Jonathan Stevenson | 10:10 UK time, Monday, 12 July 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg.

The reluctant superstar has overnight become the one of the most famous sporting faces on the planet.

As Andres Iniesta controlled Cesc Fabregas's pass in the 116th minute of the World Cup final, Spain's destiny lay in the hands of its pocket-sized midfield playmaker. One sweet sweep of his right foot and Iniesta, for so long the quiet prince of Spanish football, was suddenly its king.

No more just the sublimely talented creator who lives in the shadows of supposedly more illustrious team-mates, now it is the boy from Fuentealbilla near Albacete in the east of Spain who reigns supreme.

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But just who is the 26-year-old who has now won every major honour in the game?

Iniesta's rise to stardom has not been without a struggle, although sometimes often it seemed that maybe he himself was the biggest obstacle to success.

Painfully shy as a youngster, Iniesta joined Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, when he was 12. He was often homesick and kept himself to himself, a rare sign of his personality showing through with the posters of Barca captain Pep Guardiola that adorned the wall in his room.

But soon it became clear the Catalan club had a special talent on their hands. Invited to train with the first team one day when he was 16, it has gone down in Barcelona history what Guardiola, now coach of the club, said to midfield colleague Xavi when he first laid eyes on Iniesta: "You're going to retire me," whispered the then 29-year-old, "but this kid's going to retire us all."

Iniesta made his debut under Louis van Gaal in 2002, eventually establishing himself in the first-team squad with Van Gaal's successor, fellow Dutchman Frank Rijkaard. But with the likes of Xavi, Ronaldino, Lionel Messi, Deco and Mark van Bommel around, Iniesta could not bed down a regular place in the team, instead calmly filling in a variety of positions as the club used his versatility to good use.

Left out of the starting XI for the Champions League final in 2006, it seemed as though Iniesta was destined to remain a bit-part player. But, gradually, he became indispensible - not through shouting from the rooftops about how good he was, simply by being so good that people began to start championing his cause.

It was not hard to see why. Playing in a midfield three at Barcelona in tandem with Yaya Toure and his footballing soulmate Xavi, Iniesta's class shone like a beacon. It wasn't just that he could move the ball around with the 'tiki-taki' accuracy and verve of Xavi, it was also that his lightning-quick feet and ability to dribble past people were at times eerily similar to his team-mate further up the pitch, Lionel Messi.

Before long, the fact Iniesta kept himself to himself and shied away from the limelight did not matter. He had plenty of people queueing up and tell the world how good he was.

Xavi reckoned the only thing holding his colleague back was the press. "Iniesta is easily Spain's most complete player. He has everything. Well, nearly everything - he needs media backing," said Xavi. Samuel Eto'o went a step further: "Iniesta is the best player in the world, whenever he's on the pitch he creates a spectacle."

If Iniesta didn't do himself any harm with his assured displays as Spain captured the hearts of a continent by winning Euro 2008, what has happened since has ensured he will go down in the annals of the game he so effortlessly graces.

In fact, you can probably trace the exact moment he shook off the shackles of anonymity and finally announced himself to the world: 2135 BST on Wednesday 6 May 2009, when he set to one side the "receive, pass, offer, receive, pass, offer" Barcelona education he had been schooled in and smashed a 20-yard right-foot shot into the top corner of the Chelsea net to send his team into the Champions League final.

From there on, the praise became deafening. After Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson warned that "Xavi and Iniesta get you on this carousel", the 5ft 6in Iniesta put on a footballing masterclass to help Barca beat the Old Trafford outfit 2-0 in Rome.

Sitting in the vanquished dressing room after the match, Wayne Rooney told his team-mates - including a certain Cristiano Ronaldo - that they had just lost to a team directed "by the best player in the world". He wasn't talking about Xavi or Messi but Iniesta. Eto'o was delighted that he had been proven correct: "When I said Iniesta was the world's best, you laughed. Now you can see I'm right."

Yet coming into the World Cup in South Africa, as the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo decorated posters and billboards all over the country, Iniesta was nowhere to be seen.

The man sometimes called 'El Anti-Galactico' in Spain could hardly be more different to the stereotypical modern footballer, eschewing as he does the partying, tattoos and the usual headlines that are so common among his peers. "Discos are not my thing," he once said.

In the mixed zone at the Camp Nou after Barcelona beat Real Madrid in 'El Clasico' in November, I gathered around as a group of Spanish journalists questioned Iniesta. Wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt, he immediately stood out from the rest of his team-mates. He also spoke so softly even the guys at the front were straining to hear him.

But the most interesting thing was that Xavi, standing about three feet away from Iniesta, stopped talking twice to his interviewers so he could hear what his 'tiki-taki' twin was saying. He might not say much but when he does people listen.

Before Sunday's World Cup final, Iniesta challenged his Spain colleagues to improve, suggesting the level they reached in the 1-0 semi-final win over Germany would not be good enough to take the trophy. He also gave a hint of the excitement he felt at helping his country to a first appearance in the final: ''We have all dreamed of this moment but we have to finish the dream. The last step is the most difficult and the most beautiful."

How prophetic. In a brutally physical game of football in Johannesburg, Iniesta was left in no doubt as to how the Netherlands were going to try to stop him after Van Bommel clattered into him from behind early on to pick up a booking.

Van Bommel's gamble appeared to pay off as a subdued Iniesta struggled to get into the game, giving the ball away with a regularity that borders on sinful where he comes from. But as the second half wore on and the Dutch began to tire, he began to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

A jinking run into the box was only denied its deserved finish by a super sliding tackle from Wesley Sneijder. Then, in extra-time, it was from Iniesta's cute through ball that Fabregas found the legs of Maarten Stekelenburg instead of the far corner.

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But Iniesta was not to be denied his match-winning moment. A few minutes after he was hauled down by John Heitinga following an umpteenth one-two with Xavi - the Dutch defender was sent off as a result - Iniesta's crowning glory arrived as he slammed home.

As the final whistle went, Iniesta slumped to his knees and shook his fists on the turf, more than 700 million people around the world watching this most reserved footballer enjoy a very rare public display of emotion.

Back in the bowels of Soccer City about an hour or so later as he collected his man of the match award, it was business as usual for a man who refuses to acknowledge his own importance. "I simply made a small contribution to my team," he said.

The truth may have been somewhat closer when Fabregas, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique burst into the room moments later shouting "you're the best, you're the best" at the man who saved them from going to penalties.

After Iniesta's goal at Chelsea last year, Guardiola revealed some of his midfielder's frustration. "Andres always moans that he doesn't score enough, as if with everything else he does, he has to get goals, too. Tonight he settled his debt forever."

On Sunday, Iniesta's World Cup winner ensured Spain would be forever in his debt.

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Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tremendous talent...outstanding player of the year, and now world champion

  • Comment number 3.

    Im' glad you think that, but if you honestly believe that chasing the referee, waving imaginary cards to try and get people sent off and generally falling over at the slightest contact is the way that this 'superstar' should behave on a football pitch, then it doesn't say much for the rest of the game does it.

    As for football - yes he is capable of brilliance, but nobody would no it from this world cup, all he has achieved is ana mazing ability to pass the ball sideways for 90 minutes and score the winning goal in the world cup final, which last time I looked wasn't really good enough to get to be player of the tournament!

    I really didn't want Spain to win last night because I am fed up of the media hype about them. there was nothing about them last night that was 'beautiful' in anybodys eyes yet still I had to put up with commentators and pundits alike waxing lyrical over them.

    Next time theres a match on, can you comment on what is happening in the game, rather than your preconceived ideas of what they would like to happen

  • Comment number 4.

    Well put Giggsy,

    Funny how the commentators and pundets only have praise for him when he is in fact quite the actor!

    Not to mention the constant mock card waving to the ref, espeically rich considering that he should have been booked for diving.

    He is a great footballer but as with the aforementioned Ronaldo and Robben he is not a great person.

  • Comment number 5.

    What makes it all the more remarkable is Iniesta has been battling depression for a year now after a injury ravaged season which made him question if he could continue playing and worst of all the death of 2 friends. One of which was the Espanyol player Dani Jarque whose name Ini bore on the vest he showed to the world, and got a booking for it. Ini is a legend and has done a great job overcoming all he has to win the world cup. Viva Iniesta!

  • Comment number 6.

    Iniesta is no doubt talented. It's a shame poeple have only just realised. I have watched this fella closely for about 7years now nad I think he just needs to score more goals for an attacking midfielder.

  • Comment number 7.

    He is a sublime talent, problem is that he will also always be remembered along with his partners in crime Puyol and Xavi for hounding every ref over every foul commited by an opposition player to give a card. It was like watching Barcelona how they all surroundedf the ref every possible moment. Makes most of us fools for complaining how bad United were at one point, but they have nothing on these guys.

  • Comment number 8.

    Him and Xavi have been the best players in the world for the past 3 years. Head and shoulders above all others.

    His first touch is what all players at every level should aspire to. Thats what makes him the best.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog, but I don't think we can keep talking about Iniesta as if he's some kind of 'unsung' hero. The football press have been banging on about how good he is for a good couple of years now. We know what he's all about and we know how important he is to both his club and country.

    In all honesty I found Spain only marginally more exciting to watch than Greece at Euro 2008. I am a football purist of the highest order, but even I find Spain's so-called tiki-taka (note to Stevo: not tiki-taki) keep-ball tactics utterly tedious.

    Yes, their technique is flawless and their close control is at times jaw-dropping, but to me it's akin to sitting and watching someone like Ronaldinho ball-juggle for 90 minutes. Entertaining in small doses, but it's not long before you pray for someone to just hoof it into the box and stick it in the net. That is the aim of the game, after all.

    Agree with 11_giggsy_11 as well - Iniesta is up there with the worst of them when it comes to diving. Not something to be proud of.



  • Comment number 11.

    Regardless of all the negative comments mentioned so far that could apply to the majority of players in the game today - and the fact I was supporting Holland - I couldn't have been happier to see Andres Iniesta score the winning goal.

    Fantastic celebration by an amazing player.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry, I meant Euro 2004. Obviously...

  • Comment number 13.

    He kind of reminds me of a certain Paul Scholes in his amazing technical and passing ability yet ever the reluctant hero.

    Obviously Scholesy in his day could score too ;)

  • Comment number 14.

    Class player without a doubt, and we (England) don't have anyone to compare. But he's no angel - how many times did he wave imaginary cards in the air to try to get the ref to book a Dutch player? And most importantly, dived to get Heitinga sent off. The blog said "hauled down by John Heitinga" - you're having a laugh! The merest touch on his shoulder and he hit the deck as though he were shot! Arjen Robben would have been proud of that one. Not even a foul, yet it led to the game-turning dismissal.
    Yes, a great player, but why must the Spain-obessesed BBC "experts" only see the good side of their play?

  • Comment number 15.

    great player and a truely outstanding player. Does not score too many goals but his wc winning goal and cl semi final goal means when scores, they are important goals.

  • Comment number 16.

    spain has been the best and dutch people should be ashamed:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    REALLY ASHAMED!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, it's always a joy to watch him play. The partnership he has with Xavi is second to none. Unfortunately, in a world where people always look at those who score instead of those who mastermind, he won't win World Best Player - though he deserves it.

    Also, I would like to state that I'm greatly disappointed in Capello's inability to play Lampard and Gerrard together to dominate midfield. To me, if Capello should have been able to do this, even Iniesta and Xavi partnership won't come close. I always wonder how can England have the best of midfielders and not dominate. Football is always won in the midfield and England has always fallen short of that. And until, this is sorted out, there is no way England can win a major trophy!

  • Comment number 18.

    Please can everyone get over this card waving idea


    I have watched La Liga since sky started bradcasting it so this is no surprise to how good Iniesta is. Week in week out he terrorised midfields and defences.

    amazing control
    turn of pace
    scores goals
    great skill
    good balance
    works hard


    he has everything that you need to be a top player.

    Whilst so many fans in England talk about Gerrad and Lampard being world class and the likes of Cole and Rooney, I feel like people dont take the time to watch other leagues and realise how far behind the English players are.

    Iniesta and xavi compliment Messi so well and when the theree of them are on the pitch for Barcelona its irresistable, Chuck Villa in to the mix and its hows you how good they are.

    England being left very far behind if Rooney is the best we have to offer.

  • Comment number 19.

    # 14

    The BBC "experts" seem blinkered at best regarding SPain's performances. I had to switch over to "the other channel" at half time and full time because I couldn't listen to Hansen et al's brown-nosing a minute longer.

  • Comment number 20.

    'To me, if Capello should have been able to do this, even Iniesta and Xavi partnership won't come close'

    Gerrard-Lampard wouldn't even come close because they don't know how to pass or keep the ball at international level. They are too 'hollywood' (direct and too tempted to go for the long pass) in their style for the international stage in central midfield.

  • Comment number 21.

    9. At 12:57pm on 12 Jul 2010, redhotbed100 wrote:
    Iniesta and Xavi have to be the 2 most overrated players ever. Passing it in midfield all day and maybe creating a chance twice every 90 minutes isn't what i call attractive football.

    _________________

    What would you call "attractive" football then? Long-range shots and extravagant scissor-kicks every five seconds?

    When Xavi and Iniesta completed lightning-fast passes and dribbles all day in tight spaces, it was unbelievably awesome to watch.

    That is the best kind of football - why don't you try it aginst world-class players, see how difficult it actually is?


    Fantastic article

  • Comment number 22.


    "Also, I would like to state that I'm greatly disappointed in Capello's inability to play Lampard and Gerrard together to dominate midfield. To me, if Capello should have been able to do this, even Iniesta and Xavi partnership won't come close. I always wonder how can England have the best of midfielders and not dominate. Football is always won in the midfield and England has always fallen short of that. And until, this is sorted out, there is no way England can win a major trophy!"


    please stop writing this nonsense, You truely believe that Gerrard and Lampard are better than Xavi & Iniesta - deluded

  • Comment number 23.

    Typical english football fans!!! Know nothing about football. Xavi and Iniesta are considered 2 of the best midfielders in the worl......for a reason. Their country is World and European champion, their club has won about 8 trophies in 2 seasons. And why, because they keep position, pick out the correct passes and execute them with near 100% standard.
    And half the comments so far have been about how they dive and harrass the referee......De Jong was auditioning for the next Karate Kid film, Van Bommel nearly broke Iniesta's leg with that challenge and you want them to politely talk to the ref and not ask for cards? If Howard webb did his job the Dutch would have 8 men on the pitch before hal-ftime and Spain would've won 5-0. Please give credit where credit's due.

    Look at England. Gerrard has nothing on iniesta, lampard has nothing on Xavi and rooney has nothing on Villa. maybe we should try and emulate the Spanish rather than put them down?

  • Comment number 24.

    I notice you didnt' make any mention of his throwing a dutch player to the floor which resulted in his yellow card! Doesn't fit with the glory piece I suppose, but yes, you are telling us what we all know, and have known for at least 2 years.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Iniesta and Xavi have to be the 2 most overrated players ever. Passing it in midfield all day and maybe creating a chance twice every 90 minutes isn't what i call attractive football."

    This must be why they have one evry trophy in world football each!!!!!

    What bad players tehy are playing their whole careers at Barcelona - ha ha

  • Comment number 26.

    i agree with some of the posters about the hype and bias towards spain especially from the bbc pundits!..Especially when they made up excuses for anything bad done by spain!! lol laughable at some times. I am sooo glad Forlan was crowned player of the tournament, modest and never once saw him falling to the ground at the slightest touch and rolling around screaming in agony, led by example its what footballers should be like...Round off applause for one of the most underrated players in world football....Oh and the funniest moment was at the end of BBC's coverrage when linekar announces Forlan was the player of the tournament, Hansen and co laughed and saying it should have been iniesta!!...Hmm..a spain team without iniesta would have still reached the finals easily....a Uruguay team without Forlan would have been knocked out at the group stages...work it out who has achieved more and who was more pivotel in thier team performances???? ...Hansen and Co your thoughts please??

  • Comment number 27.

    "hauled down by John Heitinga" - having read this blog and Paul Fletcher's, I am truly astounded at the one eyed nature of BBC 'journalism'. I have to admit to being an Everton fan, but I can't believe that anyone who watches football in the world could say with a straight face (or worse, put into print!) that Heitinga hauled Iniesta down by gently resting his hand on his shoulder for a microsecond. Iniesta, the unassuming, principled superstar that he is promptly threw himself to the turf in an impressively dramatic fashion (arms flung out, the natural reaction to being hauled to the ground), only managing to somehow regain his footing to brandish an imaginary card repeatedly at Howard Webb. When did trying to get other players booked stop being a bookable offence, and start being the sign of the virtuous? Iniesta - great player, but come off it, he's not the second coming, nor is he any different from the bulk of the top players, who are willing to dive, cheat, and bully the ref in order to win.

  • Comment number 28.

    'Typical english football fans!!! '

    Thank you for resorting to generalisations, well done(!)

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't get me wrong, Iniesta would get into any national side or club team in the world right now but in my opinion he's solid and consistent with very good technical ability but he's not good enough to run a game for 90 minutes without Xavi or Fabregas in the midfield with him. Honestly I think it's a reflection of the falling standards in football that such articles are being written about him and a Spanish team that just won probably the worst world cup ever by scoring 8 goals in 7 games (yes they were the best team but that says more about their defence than anything else). When I think about a recent creative midfielder who graced the Nou Camp with his genius and who didn't score enough goals to ultimately get the recognition he deserved I think of Michael Laudrup and Iniesta is not a patch on him. Oh and just to add, he was a gentleman who never dived.

  • Comment number 30.

    Have to agree with some of the other comments about his diving (or, more accurately, hie exageration, as he is usually fouled) and the imaginary cards. It is unbecoming of a man who is undoubtedly a great player.

    Having said that, I think that people criticising him for only passing the ball sideways need to take a step back. Yes, a lot of his passes are simple, short balls to Xavi or another team-mate, however that doesn't tell the whole story. The point is that he retains posession better than any other player in the world. And if the opposition don't have the ball then they can't hurt you. I agree that Spain can be dull to watch at times but this is largely because they're so good at what they do and Iniesta is at the heart of this.

    Someone has already mentioned about his 1st touch, which is sublime, but I think his greatest asset is his speed of thought. The majorty of players have the skill to do what Iniesta does. The difference is that they'd usually take twice as long to do it and those fractions of seconds are what leave opposition midfielders trailing in his wake.

    Credit to the guy, just cut out the gamesmanship.

  • Comment number 31.

    I live in Spain and follow the incredible Spanish football team. Quite simply the best football team I have seen in my 30-odd years of life. They have lacked a cutting edge in this tournament but they were playing a little more reservadly than normal as Del Bosque thought this was the best chance ever of winning th World Cup, they missed Torres' influence and all seven teams they have payed have "parked the bus".
    On the news here this morning they mentioned that there is only one country in the whole world that are criticising this team, the UK!
    Now why may this be? I can only think it is jealosy when recognising that England is now THE worst major football nation in the world and that its fans feel impotent when they see Spain play as they know that English players are incapable of such technique and skill.
    The last 4 Spain 1-0 games werent classics but they were full of drama and when Spain dominated them, they were bordering on football lessons which all kids should watch.
    For those who say Spanish players behaviour is disgraceful I disagree. Whenever I watch the Premierleague I see players legs and angles getting snaped in two, that is disgraceful behavour from inferior sportsman who arent up to it.
    Anyway, Iniesta is a legend and an icon for Spanish football. That Spain has won the European Championships and World Cup with four or five 5ft6, 10st weaklings is a welcome paradigm shift for football. I predict more rewards for this team to come, except for Puyol and Capdevila, the team is still young!

  • Comment number 32.

    "If Howard webb did his job the Dutch would have 8 men on the pitch before hal-ftime and Spain would've won 5-0"

    By the same token, if Webb had sent off Van Bommel and De Jong in the first half, he would have been accused of being too strict and ruining the spectacle. He was in a lose-lose situation from the off and I think he did a great job given the circumstances.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ ExiledDevonRed

    "why must the Spain-obessesed BBC "experts" only see the good side of their play?"

    - You make a very good point, the BBC are slavishly sycophantic when it comes to Spain. There were three clear narratives which were always going to be said about this game: (1) Spain are amazing and to question them is to question football itself (2) that Mark van Bommel and his Dutch compatriots are a bunch of cheating, talentless thugs (3) that Howard Webb was always going to have a good game

    There is merit to the assumed position on (1). Spain are an excellent side and Xavi and Iniesta are certainly two of the worlds best. However, this side is nowhere near as beautiful to watch, or as effective, as the 2008 side, which crucially had Marcos Senna in its ranks. (2) The physical approach of the Dutch has been massively overplayed by a media searching for a pantomime villain - in van Bommel, they found just that. Holland's approach was physical but it was far from the kind of assault that the media would have you believe - football is a contact sport. Granted some of their tackles were mis-timed but I think that only the de Jong one merited a straight red (it was inexcusable). Why is Puyol not similarly derided for his cynical foul on Arjen Robben (who is oft criticised for diving yet stayed on his feet for once and got no just reward)? As for (3), Webb got the Heitinga sending off wrong (Iniesta took a tumble); got the De Jong incident wrong (should have seen red); got the corner/goal kick decision wrong in the lead up to the Spanish goal wrong; got the blatant foul on Elia in the build up to the goal wrong (he was sandwiched); and, all in all, struggled to cope with the occasion. If that was a good game, I'd hate to see a poor one. He got nearly all of the key decisions wrong

    Off topic: van Persie has had a horrible World Cup

  • Comment number 34.

    First off i would like to say that any person out there that is silly enough to write that Iniesta or Xavi are overrated, should really think about watching another sport, or if not should definately not make a habit of writing rubbish like that.

    Were talking about 2 players who embarrassed Schweinsteiger last weekend, arguably one of the best midfielders of the tournament. A player who completely embarrassed Lampard and Barry a couple of weeks ago.

    It makes you appreciate why Messi scores so many goals for barcelona, becasue you have Xavi and Iniesta passing and walking through teams. An example of a pass would be the one iniesta laid on last night for Fabragass one on one. Beautiful pass.

    Their patient build up allows them to make passes like that. they wear people down, their movement within the spanish team (All round) pulls people out of positions, and the holes they leave Xavi and Iniesta drop balls in to.

    Really, anyone that questions their ability must need the head looked out. We are not talking about players that do it over hackney marshes on a sunday. We are talking about players that continuously play at their level week in week out, and embarrass the worlds finest.

    I cant believe some of the rubbish some people put on here, they really have no idea about football.

  • Comment number 35.

    Funny how people always spot the bad things about the good people.

    Iniesta shoen way above Ronaldo, Rooney, Messi and Kaka at this World Cup; all of these players were tipped to set the competition alight, but they did not succeed. Iniesta did.

    Everyone goes on about how he and other players surrounded and hounded the referee as if it's the first time it's been done. Well, in reality, it's not. You get it all over the place, unfortunately. There are some on here, who's team and players they support have been culprits of doing exactly what they are criticising Iniesta for.

    Basically, it's alright when your own team does it, but not so good when someone else does it!

  • Comment number 36.

    31

    I live in Spain and follow the incredible Spanish football team. Quite simply the best football team I have seen in my 30-odd years of life. They have lacked a cutting edge in this tournament but they were playing a little more reservadly than normal as Del Bosque thought this was the best chance ever of winning th World Cup, they missed Torres' influence and all seven teams they have payed have "parked the bus".
    On the news here this morning they mentioned that there is only one country in the whole world that are criticising this team, the UK!

    -------------------------

    Then the Spanish media must be ignorant fools. The British media has done nothing but praise Spain, too much in the eyes of some people.

    I can hardly believe that what you say is true.

  • Comment number 37.

    According to some people on here, Iniesta dives and runs after the ref, therefore is a disgusting person.

    I hope they apply the same rigorous standards to Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Iniesta and Xavi have to be the 2 most overrated players ever. Passing it in midfield all day and maybe creating a chance twice every 90 minutes isn't what i call attractive football."


    "Also, I would like to state that I'm greatly disappointed in Capello's inability to play Lampard and Gerrard together to dominate midfield. To me, if Capello should have been able to do this, even Iniesta and Xavi partnership won't come close"
    ########################################

    Taxi!!

    Your insane. I have literally just choked on my lunch at the second point. Xavi hernandez and Iniesta have utterly dominated games for thier sides, which is the cornerstone of their domination. Lamps just runs late into the box against mediocre opposition and Stevie couldnt hold a candle in terms of controling, passing and moving a ball.

    Witness what these two have won over the past 4 years as opposed to both lamps and gerrard and you will see. 2 European cups, 2 spanish league titles, european championship and world cup plus the super cups they contest and the world club championship........now what have stevie g and lamps won????? 1 league title, fa cup and a league cup between them.

    pipe down

  • Comment number 39.


    31. At 1:28pm on 12 Jul 2010, cricketman99 wrote:

    'On the news here this morning they mentioned that there is only one country in the whole world that are criticising this team, the UK!'

    Huh?! The media in the UK are all lovey dovey over the Spanish team and negative over the Dutch team

    Don't believe everything you read/hear in the news/media ;)

    There was a article on here a few weeks ago with a interview with a German journalist, prior to the Germany-England game, and he was implying how out of the touch/out of sync the UK media are with the UK people.

    Just because the media say something, doesn't mean its what the people think

  • Comment number 40.

    The assertion that Heitinga "hauled down" Iniesta for the second yellow is an utter falsehood, to the point of wilful dishonesty. Iniesta took a blatant dive, the worst of many such moves on the night, and should have found himself on the receiving end of a yellow card once he stopped rolling around. Not only did this colour the final result (remarkably even less deserving than Italy's assault on sportsmanship throughout the previous campaign), but it's also shown yet again that the BBC had a narrative written for the final a week ago and were determined to stick to it regardless of the result. Shameful.

  • Comment number 41.

    Nice tribute to Iniesta, Jonathon but isn't it always the way that the match-winner seems to garnish all the plaudits? Reading up on stats of the game it appeared Xavi out-played Iniesta by quite a bit. Spain have certainly been blessed with central midfield talent in recent years in the likes of Guardiola, Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta and Fabregas but do you you notice that none of them are the big muscle men we all seem to crave in most of our teams in England especially in the centre of the park? Maybe lessons to be learned?

  • Comment number 42.

    Close control dribble can always destroy any tactical plans of the opposition, even more when it is used through the middle.

  • Comment number 43.

    40

    No. Iniesta was held back from behind, and then went to ground. Maybe he shouldn't have gone to ground, but no ref gives a foul these days unless the victim is on the floor. And it WAS a foul.

    You misunderstand what "diving" is.

  • Comment number 44.

    #18 Rich wrote:
    "Please can everyone get over this card waving idea"

    I'm sorry but we won't stop bringing up this point, as it is very IMPORTANT.

    There is much more to being a football player than just skill, and for most British football fans, the spirit of how a game is played is equally important (hence the number of Chelsea fans who despaired at Drogba's continual diving/going to ground easily - read the 606 boards!). Such great, talented players shouldn't need to dive (and cheat!)

    FIFA have, over the years, changed the game to remove the 'physical' aspect of the game, mainly to protect players like Iniesta, Ronaldo and Robben, but have done nothing to stop the 'unsportsmanlike' aspect of the game, which is mainly perpetrated by these exact same players!

    For me, its been a poor WC. Great atmosphere from the Africans, but ultimately spoiled completely by players diving to the ground at the slightest touch, constant shirt pulling, deliberate handballs, and card-waving by players.

    It is NOT in the spirit of the game, and hopefully one day FIFA may learn from Rugby and allow the referees to move the point of the free-kick or foul 10 yds further on for all this bad-mouthing/card waving that the referees get.

  • Comment number 45.

    44

    It is NOT in the spirit of the game, and hopefully one day FIFA may learn from Rugby

    -----------

    It's not a "sport" where people routinely gouge each other's eyes out that is going to teach fair play to football, ffs.

  • Comment number 46.

    FoxForever: "Funny how people always spot the bad things about the good people."

    Didier Drogba, perfect example. Everyone know what he is capable of, absolutely no denying his talent. But he also has an extremely ugly side to his game that prevents many fans from truly embracing him.

    To me, it's a bit like spotting an incredibly beautiful woman at the bar but then seeing her get out a cigarette and start smoking (when people could still smoke in pubs, of course). She's clearly amazing but has a repulsive habit that stops you from *really* liking her. Clearly, a lot of 606-users aren't so selective with either their women or footballers... but that's how it works for me. I guess that means that in a bizarre way, Lionel Messi is the ideal woman. Won't dwell on that for too long but you see what I mean.

    Incidentally, where Pompey fans are concerned it's not "alright when your own team does it, but not so good when someone else does it!" We take a dim view on players who dive and sulk when things aren't going well. Players like that never stick around for very long, thank goodness.

  • Comment number 47.

    Funny enough I think constant fouling to disrupt the rythem of the game is even more unsporting. The only team that didnt foul constantly against Spain was Germany, credit to them, even though they werent particularly adventurous

  • Comment number 48.

    ^^ lol!

    Good point about Iniesta diving though, a prime example was that 10/10 swan dive he took when Van Der Wiel got booked towards the end of the match. I will never understand why that side of the game exists for them, they are already so good, do they really need it?

    It's a shame in my opinion, and one has to wonder where it comes from

  • Comment number 49.

    Hmmm....how does a hand on ones shoulder for a fraction of a second makes a player throw his hands in the air arch his back and fall FORWARD rolling on the floor atleast twice??? Hmmmm...If he was being held back should he not be falling backwards on his back instead of leaping forwards???... Iniesta..So good defies the laws of physics lol

    By the way dont get me wrong he IS one of the greats, it may not have been a dive because there was contact, but he did make a lot of it lol. Hence way i was very pleased that Forlan was awarded the golden shoe/boot/slipper/sandal whatever it's called...Once again a jolly well done hurrah for Forlan lol

  • Comment number 50.

    well said cricketman. I really don't understand all the criticism of Iniesta and Spain here. Ok so he dives every now and then which is bad but who really cares when they absolutely deserved to win. I'm English and I am really getting fed up with people that saying Spain are boring champions and that last night's game had no excitement. Even pundits are saying it, it's just not true. So many of my friends who think they know about football and watch A LOT of the premier league say that passing it around like Spain do is boring. OK when it stays in their own half it can get a little bit tedious but seriously I think many people in this country have been so blatantly brainwashed by all the stupid sky sports bbc and itv hype about every UK team and the English "style" of play that it has led to intelligent people making underhanded jealous remarks about a team who is without a doubt ten times better than England. We really need to get some international perspective in this country and stop picking teenage pubic bully freaks for our academies.

  • Comment number 51.

    peggers123 spot on, couldn't agree more with you. Nice to have someone talking some sense for once. Iniesta's performance last night was one of the most intelligent shows i've seen in years. Can believe some people refuse to appauld this guy and "say he passes it sideways" absolute rubbish. He embarrases some of the best teams in the world whenever he plays.
    He ability to find space against a team who put 9/10 men behind the ball for 120 mins was a joy to watch, cleverly finding little pockets of space, he must be amazing to play with always giving you an option even if he's got a man up his backside cuz he can turn you and pop it back off first time. And oh the the worlds current best players, managers and pundicts saying how good he is, so these people are all wrong are they??
    Plus i would be asking for cards if i got kicked for 2 hours solid. He was the best player on the pitch last night by a mile. FACT. And off the back of a season when he's barely played due to constant knee injuries, including get injured right before the start of the world cup makes him even better. GROW UP and get real

  • Comment number 52.

    "teenage pubic bully freaks for our academies" - Would you care to elaborate?

  • Comment number 53.

    Iniesta stepped up where Spain's strikers went missing, but this praise is a bit over the top. Without Xavi controlling midfield, Spain would've capitulated long ago. Even Jonathan admits Iniesta lost the ball more times than not, but even in the difficult times Xavi was almost flawless. He and Casillas are underrated, if that's possible, and the unsung heroes while everyone crowds around the goal-scorer. But I guess that's part of the game.

  • Comment number 54.

    Got to say I think he is an amazing layer but one thing this world cup highlighted for me was quite how underappreciated Diego Forlan is over here. That includes by myself.

    His game is so far removed from what he showed at United which we should have been able to assess from the scoring record he has in Spain but at this world cup he has shown that to be honest he is probably the finest out and out striker in world football with the ability to score from range and great reactions close in.

    He actuallyreminded me a lot of Batistuta in the way he played, man of the tournament! Fifa got that right unlike the Beeb

  • Comment number 55.

    If you're looking for an unsung hero in the Spain side, write an article about Joan Capdevila. He's the only player that merits both tags.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ye he may go around waving imaginary cards but so would I if one of my teamates had just had a boot stuck into his chest.
    As Guardiola said, he doesn't need to score as many goals as he easily makes many more. They pass the ball alot in midfield but they do it better than anyone else in the world. Teams such as England and Italy could barely string a pass together. Least they still managed to play football even though they were getting kicked to shreds.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 54

    Here here spot on mate...mind you did you see the 17 goals he scored for united?? worth checking out on youtube....unbelieveable goals!! ...Agree with the best striker in the world right now - past two seasons even.

  • Comment number 58.

    So you socre the winnig goal in the world cup final and your shot to instant imortality around the globe. Fiar enough really as football is fundamentally about socring goals and it doesn't get much bigger than to score the winner in the world cup final to be honest, so fair play to Andres. And he is pretty damn good.

    Now the plaudits will rain down on his large head and somewhat rightly so but this confirms what every avid fan has known for years, and many for the last decade, see your note of Guadriola's comment when Inesta was merely 16, that he is very much the real deal.

    However what does get my goat is that his goal has overshadowed everythig else in this world cup. There is no way on god's green earth that he was the best player in this tournament, and in general I think he had an average tournament by his standards, as did Spain as a whole.

    To hear the BBC pundits' cliched verbal dry humping of him after the final whistle was quite frankly embarrassing from a panel of so called neutral experts. They are like a bunch of housewives caught up in world cup fever professing total knowledge as they now understand the off-side rule and banging on as if they had just scouted inesta from a Sunday Pub league.

    To laugh off Forlan's deserved Godlen Ball in comparison to Inesta as he scored the winner is beyond a joke and they should be ashamed of their school boyish giggles. Forlan scored 5 goals for a very average, massively written off team and helped them to a 4th place finish. Mueller for Germany still has less than 10 caps for his country yet wins the golden boot at 21. Ozil. Schweinsteiger. Sneijeder. Villa. Xavi and maybe even Robben all had better impacts on the tournament than Andreas Inesta.

    However as I said before he did score the winner in the final but take off the tinters - these good articles on great players should be written in general instead of the subjective spasmodic tripe that we get with every day footballing BS.

    [Side note to Capello: Gernmay, Spain, Holland...three of the top 4 in the world all play with ONE UP FRONT!]

  • Comment number 59.

    Whilst i dont think Iniesta should be player of the tournament as he didnt carry Spain to the finals in the way Sneijder did for Holland who without Sneijder probably wouldnt have been there, i do still think Iniesta is a grand player.

    Yes hes not perfect, he has his negative points, but his football is majestic. And those critisising him and Spanish players here, especially those saying Lampard and Gerrard are better - you remind me of the fat girl who keeps turning up at the X factor auditions, trying to convince the world she can sing...

  • Comment number 60.

    Xavi is better, though.

  • Comment number 61.

    @28 – Most of the comments here are negative, just like English fans. Most of the comments are by English people, since its an English website.. They play too much playstation. They want the likes of Walcott to come out of his nappy and start scoring hat-tricks every week. When he doesn’t they say he’s rubbish. If he scores a couple of goals in the first game of next season you will all say that he’s “redeemed himself”, he “will go on to rule the world”. The likes of iniesta, xavi, Alonso, villa, puyol etc etc gained reputations from around the age of 22/23. In England you want all players to be like rooney. You expect it!

    Just to show how out of touch England fans are…..you all thought you had a chance of winning the world cup!!!!

    Forcing the ref to make a decision by going down under a light challenge is not cheating, asking for a card when someone has just gone studs up down the back of your leg is not cheating either.

  • Comment number 62.

    A very talented player but an incorrigible diver and incredibly unsporting, with his constant pleas to referees to send off opposition players. I can't admire a player who has such a cynical side.
    His passing is overrated too, it is nowhere near as good as Xavi or even Alonso or Frabregas.

  • Comment number 63.

    Iniesta has been brilliant for years, that is why on a visit to the Nou Camp I picked up his shirt rather than join the queue of people buying Messi shirts. It is an insult to the guy that the British media only pick up on him after he scores the winner in the WC final.

    However, he is a bit of a diver, referee baiter, card waver etc. just as almost all Spanish-based players are. It is ingrained in their football culture just as much as the 'tika-taka' or whatever it is being called now.

    Last night (after he was already booked) he took out Van Bommel off the ball which could easily have given him a second yellow.

    I am all up for applauding him as one of the world greats, but please do not ignore his 'darker' traits. The media love to report on Rooney's faults so please have the decency to be consistent across the board.

  • Comment number 64.

    61. At 2:08pm on 12 Jul 2010, peggers123 wrote:

    'you all thought you had a chance of winning the world cup!!!!'

    Such a incorrect generalisation says more about you and your ineptitude, than it does about the people its aimed at

  • Comment number 65.

    Those readers who have stated above that the playing style of Spain in general and Iniesta in particular is somehow 'boring' or impossible to watch: are you saying you want to see the kind of crash-bang-wallop 100 mph fare that is served up week after week in the Premier League? It might be worth your while to consider just how effective this style is on the international scene. Yes, it is truly exciting and fascinating to watch, especially for a TV audience, which is most likely why the English Premier League is the most popular league in the world, and the one which generates the most revenue from broadcasting rights sold in foreign markets such as Asia. But look at the results for England at international level and the questions have to be asked: what type of player and/or playing mentality does it create?

    Honestly, how many players of a similar type to Iniesta (ball-playing attacking midfielder more intent on making successful passes over any distance than smashing in 30-yard piledrivers) do you think would be created by an English club's academy in the current circumstances? There aren't many that I can think of operating for top English clubs, in fact the one that stands out in my mind is a certain Paul Scholes. And why do you think Mr. Capello was so keen on coaxing him out of international retirement for this tournament? If he has half the football brain required to be an international manager of his standing and reputation, he surely would have realised that the extremely direct, Premier League "lump it into the box" mentality wouldn't be nearly as effective at a World Cup as tiki-taka, whatever shortcomings that system may also have.

    On a purely personal level, during this tournament Iniesta has gradually become my favourite player, certainly midfielder, to watch. Might be a sign of the times that it used to be Steven Gerrard . . .

  • Comment number 66.

    The media seem to be absoloutely falling over themselves in awe of Spanish football. Obviously they're a great side, you don't win the Euro and World Cup being a poor footballing side, but it's really annoying that because of their so-called "beautiful football" journalists and pundits alike totally overlook their on-the-pitch antics.

    Iniesta was "fouled," then jumped up in a heartbeat and kicked van Bommel. Not one mention of this was made during or after the game, it's like people are too scared to criticise anything the Spanish do because they play good possession football. The Dutch hardly played the cleanest of games but it doesn't make the constant diving and crowding of the referee any more acceptable. Get a grip people and get off the tabloid bandwagon.

  • Comment number 67.

    65. At 2:19pm on 12 Jul 2010, Game Intelligence wrote:

    ' are you saying you want to see the kind of crash-bang-wallop 100 mph fare that is served up week after week in the Premier League?...'

    Funny how people resort to the same old limited anti-PL/English comments whenever someone dares to criticise Spain.

    Spain were far more entertaining & attacking in Euro 08 and none of it resembled stereotypical PL football.

    I hope Brazil go back to their more adventurous style (a stereotypical Brazil style is adored by many and doesn't resemble stereotypical PL style) in the WC as that is the kind of entertainment and style i want to see at a WC from the big teams.

  • Comment number 68.

    I watch barcelona every week and to be honest I dont see Iniesta dive at all. Typical of people who only watch 1 tournament then make a judgement.

    Gazza was the nearest England came to an Iniesta type.

    Xavi & Iniesta are the best midfield partnership in club and world football.

    I loved that analogy about fat girls from X factor.

    Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Alonso, fabregas . . . England would like a midfielder just half as good as one of these. Spain manage to get them all very experienced by a young age. Iniesta is 26, Busquets is 20 I think and Fab is 22 I think . . . .

    name an English central Midfielder under 25 with more than 5 caps?????

  • Comment number 69.

    66

    maybe its because fans want to look at the positives like their great football rather than diving . . . All countries do it but Spain have been highlighted as it happened in a world cup final.

  • Comment number 70.

    #45. At 1:44pm on 12 Jul 2010, Johnnygray26 wrote:

    It's not a "sport" where people routinely gouge each other's eyes out that is going to teach fair play to football, ffs.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh has school finished early today?

    Have you ever watched a rugby match??? Sorry but to say we 'routinely gouge each other's eyes out' is ridiculous - I played for 17 years and never saw this once, but of course please astound me and tell me I'm wrong with your obvious 'in-depth' knowledge of rugby...

    And do we really need the 'ffs' comment added?

    The 606 boards have really gone downhill this year...

  • Comment number 71.

    Quite simply he's the most complete footballer since Zidane and he is an absolute credit to the game.

    I hope more players can follow his example on the pitch and give some hope to a sport that seems set on self destruction.

    God bless Iniesta (and also Alonso, Xavi, Fabregas, Casillas and Villa)

    They play the game the way it should be played - in a sporting manner with no intentions to cheat the refs or foul the opposition.

    The majority of players at this have brought shame on football, I hope they can learn from this Spanish team.

    PS: An honourable mention for Schneider and Forlan who also had brilliant tournaments

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.


    68. At 2:32pm on 12 Jul 2010, Rich wrote:
    I watch barcelona every week and to be honest I dont see Iniesta dive at all

    I remember him diving against Real, in November

  • Comment number 74.

    71 said: "They play the game the way it should be played - in a sporting manner with no intentions to cheat the refs or foul the opposition. "

    Were you watching the same Spanish team as the rest of us last night matey?!

  • Comment number 75.

    11_giggsy_11

    OK, so entertaining football doesn't necessarily mean Route 1, I admit. But all the same, even if you think Spain's playing style last night was a cure for insomnia, it clearly got results, as it had done throughout the tournament. My point was more about how England, with their faster, more direct play, didn't get anywhere near the results that Spain ended up with, and how some seem to think that going straight for the jugular is the best way for England to operate. It wasn't very effective this year at any rate.

    Anyway, I would like to know just why Spain are so dull to look at, it's not like they "parked the bus" with 10 men behind the ball or anything.

  • Comment number 76.

    67. At 2:28pm on 12 Jul 2010, 11_giggsy_11 wrote:
    65. At 2:19pm on 12 Jul 2010, Game Intelligence wrote:

    ' are you saying you want to see the kind of crash-bang-wallop 100 mph fare that is served up week after week in the Premier League?...'

    Funny how people resort to the same old limited anti-PL/English comments whenever someone dares to criticise Spain.

    Spain were far more entertaining & attacking in Euro 08 and none of it resembled stereotypical PL football.
    -----------------------------------------

    At Euro 2008 Spain had a fit Torres and didn't have to play opponents who parked the bus in every single game. They took people by surprise to an extent. At the World Cup, every team parked the bus against them, but they beat them all (except the now meaningless 1st game).This is a crucial distinction and one that I'm surprised more people haven't picked up on.

    That said, having read a lot of the comments on this and other blogs that have featured Spain, I shouldn't be surprised by the level of numbskullery shown by many.

    I can understand why Spain wanted to get people booked in the final, because De Jong and Van Bommel should've been in a UFC contest rather than a football pitch.

  • Comment number 77.

    @4, 26, et al.
    British TV pundits having rose tinteds WRT their favoured teams?
    1. England in the world cup (until they got knocked out)
    2. Spain
    3. Man Utd or Chelsea in PL 2010/2011, depending on who is looking most likely to win.
    Nothing will ever change!

  • Comment number 78.

    I think everyone is forgetting that the only reason Spain got to the latter stages is because of David Villa. He was the real star man for them, but people will obviously forget that because Iniesta scored the winner in the World Cup final. Had Torres scored the winner he would be hailed as an instant Spanish legend and noone would have cared about his poor form and the fact that Villa was miles better in the tournament.

  • Comment number 79.

    Iniesta is nothing without Xavi, but that doesn't take away the fact he's a brilliant, brilliant footballer. A lot of people seem to want to say negative things for the sake of it. And the diving thing? What footballer, nowadays, doesn't? Unfortunately it's become part of the game overall. Every player wants to win an advantage for their team, though I seriously doubt they might think 'okay, I can see an opposition player coming towards me, so I'm going to dive'. It's just done on impulse, in a fast-paced, blurred moment. Think Suarez' successful goalkeeping. That moment happened in the blink of an eye, again reaffirming my point that these things happen on un-thinking impulse. And as much as we may complain, of course they're going to pester the Ref. How many people at various points in this tournament, or indeed watching any football, anywhere, have not screamed 'REFEREEEEE!!!' when a player they support has tumbled, however innocuously.

    And for the love of God can everyone stop mentioning Rooney in the same breath as Messi and Kaka etc. He is categorically NOT in league with them. He looked bored and laboured in England's matches. Capello got it all wrong. A team should be decided on who is on form. Not household names. Being left on the bench might give the incentive to work harder on the pitch.

    Give credit to where it's due. To Iniesta and Xavi who could run rings around England on their own.

    As for the Dutch display last night? I credit that to Octopus-induced anxiety.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think our own Stevie G could learn a lot from this man. His passing and movement are unquestionably second to none and not sure how he does it but the man simply does not give the ball away. He is the complete midfielder and i'm glad the whole world now knows.

  • Comment number 81.

    All of the Spain players had a good tournamnet other than Torres. However Torres scored the winner in 08 and assisted last night so when it counts he will be in the history books.

    Iniesta was quiet for the first few games but is always a joy to watch. Barcelona will never sell him.

    i went to see Joe Cole play for West ham when he was 18 and he played just behind the front man, he looked like Iniesta plays now. Dropping short to get the ball, gliding past players, good with both feet, good skill. Then I remember Mourinho moving him to the left wing and making him do more work defensively that offensively, tehn all of a sudden he was playing left wing for Chelsea & England.

    For me he was the best English player of the last 15 years and his skill and imagination was booted out of him. Had he been spanish or brazilian he would of been encouraged to play in the middle and show his skills off. Learn England Learn. We would rather have 11 grafters than risk having a potential maverick in our team.

    Wilshere is potentially that man but Im sure we will not see him for years and years because of one excuse or another

  • Comment number 82.

    people keep saying he is nothing without Xavi . . . . anyone who knows their history will remember that Iniesta cemented his place in teh first team at Barcelona when Xavi was out for 6 months many years ago. he made the midfield his own and ran teh show.

    Yes they are better together but to say he is nothing without Xavi is ignorant.

  • Comment number 83.

    Good blog, it has everyone talking on here. You have to love football, it makes people have such strong opinions and its why I love the world cup. Iniesta and Xavi are a class apart than most of the midfielders at this world cup apart from mueller and schwiensteiger. With villa...all three and puyol/casillas helped win Spain the cup but Spain are generally a great team who can keep the ball well all the time from back to front whereas Forlan had a lower standard of team and shone out so well. He deserves the golden boot...just and Spain deserve to be champions by miles.

    Generally all the players in the world cup dive and try to get players booked so he is no different to the others, it seems to be part of the game and has been for a long time now. Although the Spanish really didn't need to try and get the dutch booked they were doing a very good job of that themselves with some horrible tackles that were all intended to put Spain off there game. They still won though...they are European and World champions, they are the best team in the world with some of the very best players in the world...simple as.

  • Comment number 84.

    17. At 1:11pm on 12 Jul 2010, Lagogo wrote:

    Well, it's always a joy to watch him play. The partnership he has with Xavi is second to none. Unfortunately, in a world where people always look at those who score instead of those who mastermind, he won't win World Best Player - though he deserves it.

    Also, I would like to state that I'm greatly disappointed in Capello's inability to play Lampard and Gerrard together to dominate midfield. To me, if Capello should have been able to do this, even Iniesta and Xavi partnership won't come close. I always wonder how can England have the best of midfielders and not dominate. Football is always won in the midfield and England has always fallen short of that. And until, this is sorted out, there is no way England can win a major trophy!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Lagogo i cannt fanthom how you believe that Gerrard & Lampard can dominate the midfield like Xavi & iniesta , and to suggest that Capello should be able to do this in2years on the job with players who he only gets to train to gether for a maximum of 4days in a row?
    Xavi 7 Iniest started developing their skills from the age of 11, and play togethere week in week out for the same club, while Gerrard and Lamparf if you hve not realised play for different clubs.
    I sincerely do think the media hype reaaly got to you, for you to believe that "England have the best of midfielders", in Gerrard & Lampard, when the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ronaldo, are still very active footballers.
    One thing we should all have learnt from this wc is that, we certainly do not have great players, but we certainly have media-hyped ones. We do need a new mix of players who should be given the opportunity to play with freedom, and not go all out patronising the press with their cooked-up hype and stories, in other for us to get some pride back as a footballing nation

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    76. At 2:44pm on 12 Jul 2010, nico wrote:

    'At Euro 2008 Spain had a fit Torres and didn't have to play opponents who parked the bus in every single game. '

    Not really a good enough excuse, considering the talent they got. Secondly, Spain have put in plenty of good performances with the lone striker system in the past before WC, whether it be Villa or Torres.

    Secondly, why play two holding midfielders against teams who you say park the bus?!

    Thirdly, Spain of Euro 2008 only played with one holding midfielder, Senna. Spain of WC 2010 play with two holding midfielders, Busquets and Xabi. Also take into consideration, Xavi played deep as well, so making it a very conservative and passive three-man central midfield.

    More to do with Spain's tactics than opposition's tactics as to why Spain are more conservative than Euro 2008.

    When playing the lone striker system in this WC, it was ridiculous how many times the striker was the only player in the box, whilst the three central midfield just played deep and offering no support to the front man. At Euro 2008, Spain were more adventurous. Against Russia in Euro 2008, in the second half, they played with the lone striker (Villa was taken off injured) with midfielders playing with more freedom and Spain were a lot more adventurous than the lone striker system that Del Bosque has used in WC.

    Spain of Euro 2008 were far more attack-minded than Spain of WC 10, mainly because of Del Bosque's relatively more cautious use of the Spanish midfield

  • Comment number 87.

    I'm sorry, he has one good touch in the game(actually Fabregas did all the hard work) and now he's suddenly the best player in the World Cup? Where was his brilliance through out the game? He was barely there....oh wait actually, didn't he dive? It's funny, when any other player does that, everyone, including media and pundits, hold it against them forever. But Iniesta is actually literally applauded for it? Double standards much? Actually that goes toward the whole Spanish team. Ramos got away with two fouls against Germany. Puyol got away with what he did to Robben. And when Heitinga clutched onto that players shirt for a fraction of a second, he gets sent off. And no, I'm not a Dutch fan, I have not supported either of these teams. The media hype and praise of Spanish has disgusted me though.

  • Comment number 88.

    85. At 2:57pm on 12 Jul 2010, TaconazoRedondo

    Touched a nerve did I?

    Secondly, if your going to quote me, do it properly, instead of adding your own bits of fiction to it

    Thirdly, I also remember Iniesta diving against United in 2008.

    Fourthly, the comment i was replying to said they watched Barca every week and don't recall Iniesta diving, so i'm more than entitled to reply back with a relevant comment.

    Just seems like you sensitive little soul can't take criticism about Iniesta, regardless of how factual it is.

    Your comment says more about you and your ridiculously sensitive nature than it does about me.

  • Comment number 89.

    The plethora of Nazi like comments proclaiming that people cant have an opinion is frankly alarming (you know who you are) but the truth of the matter is, Iniesta has been a top player for many years now and im amazed that the media is only just waking up to it now.

    You couldnt slide a ruler between Xavi and Iniesta when they marshal the Barcelona midfield and thats been the case for nearly 4 years now.

    oh, and there was a comment about Lampard and Gerrard being as good as the above mentioned? Thats hilarious. Neither player is half as good as these 2 top midfielders and deep down, we all know it.

  • Comment number 90.

    Completely agree, I know when you say "unsung" you dont mean "unheard of" like some of the comments mean to think, simply that he doesnt get the praise the likes of ronaldo and rooney get like been on every poster, advert and piece of merchandise going. Id level Iniesta with Messi as the best player in the world, and these are the sorty of players we need to set as role models for the next generation of footballers coming through.

    This world cup has proven what I have said for a long time, Wayne Rooney is good, perhaps very good, but he isnt even close to world class, no matter what the FIFA games and sky pundits would have you believe...

  • Comment number 91.

    75. At 2:42pm on 12 Jul 2010, Game Intelligence

    I don't see why people have to reply back to criticism of something non-English by resorting to criticising England/PL. Just take it as what it is, a criticism about Spain, not a criticism about Spain because England is better!

    I found it boring at times, mainly because of the conservative nature of their central midfield. Weren't ambitious enough, Spain. Spain like to play the game centrally, but they weren't that attack-minded with it.

    Spain of Euro 08 were far better

  • Comment number 92.

    Cece

    Iniesta has been one of the best players in the world for years, it did not need this world cup to make people realise this. Or maybe it did for those who only watch the premiership.

    Iniesta was brilliant last night so to say he did nothing is showing that u either did not watch the game or u have no understanding of the role he plays in the team.

    Spain might line up on paper with 2 defensive midfielders but they interchange so much throughout the game taht its impossible to tie them down to a formation.

    Spain won the world cup by being more cautious than in 08, yes thats true but what does that say for them . . . it says they can play defensive or offensive and still win, What does it say for other teams . . . that they cant keep up with this generation of Spain players

  • Comment number 93.

    Just to note - My top 11 players of the tournament:
    1. Forlan
    2. Villa
    3. Iniesta
    4. Sneijder
    5. Schweinsteiger
    6. Puyol
    7. Lahm
    8. Gyan
    9. Casillas
    10. Messi
    11. Fucile

  • Comment number 94.

    Im surprised that no one has pointed to the impact that Fabregas had on the game. Although Spain had recovered possesion in the second half it wasnt until his introduction that they started to pose a genuine goal threat.

  • Comment number 95.

    "This world cup has proven what I have said for a long time, Wayne Rooney is good, perhaps very good, but he isnt even close to world class, no matter what the FIFA games and sky pundits would have you believe..."

    At last someone has said it. Rooney is overhyped and showed it at the world cup. very good in a strong united team but only very good and this was shown by World player of the year award for 2010 - where was Rooney . . . . .

  • Comment number 96.

    My 11 for the world cup

    Casillas

    Fucile
    Puyol
    Metersacker
    Ramos

    Iniesta
    Xavi
    Schweinsteiger

    Mueller
    Villa
    Forlan

  • Comment number 97.

    ChrisBriddon what planet do you live on matey - clown

  • Comment number 98.

    Spain are a brilliant team, and Iniesta is an incredible player, and both fully deserved the result.

    Spain have come up against teams in 2008 who didnt know what to expect and dismantled them, and teams who knew what to expect so parked the bus, and still dismantled them. No tactic has worked against spain in the last 3 years, and that is echoed by their results. There is no way of stopping Spain, because of how comfortable every single player is in possesion. They are not the quickest side, but because their control is instant, and their passing so accurate, and movement so untrackable, they beat all comers.

    Their defence should be applauded too. only conceded 2 goals all tournament. Pique and Puyol have been immense in defense, as has busquets and alonso protecting them. Ramos and Capdevilla have been solid in defense and also add something in attack. Every outfield player closes the opposition down when they have the ball, limiting the oppositions possession, and maximising theirs. they all work extremely hard, and fully deserve it.

    As for the diving and imaginary card waving, name a big team that doesnt do that at club level? and havnt done it for years? Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Real Madrid, barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Inter Milan, Fiorentina, AC Milan. all big teams with the best players in the world playing for them and they all do it. Yet suddenly Spain are the bad guys for it.

  • Comment number 99.

    95. At 3:10pm on 12 Jul 2010, Rich wrote:

    'At last someone has said it.'

    Oh what dribble. Many people have been saying it. Jeez, theres more people saying it than people saying anything to contrary on the 606 boards. But hey, some people seem to think what the media says is what the majority of people think

    'this was shown by World player of the year award for 2010 - where was Rooney . . . . . '

    Has the World Player of the Year Award for 2010 been given out yet?

    If you mean 2009, Rooney was in the top ten, not bad.

  • Comment number 100.

    spain without Iniesta is what happened in the confederation cup........Iniesta is soo good , u dont see it, his personality and his looks dont look like a player, yet he run through defenders like a sickler who has drunk some magic powers, for me he is Up there with Ronaldo brazil, better than Xavi, Xavi is mostly playing beautiful on a comfortable spot, and Iniesta dare run into enemies line, dazzling them...look how he is constantly moving the ball inside defenders......in Ghana we call him the professor

 

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