Player profile – Andrés Iniesta (Spain)



Former World Champions Spain will be looking towards Russia this summer as a chance to regain their place at the top of world football. Having won three consecutive tournaments prior to the last World Cup (they won the Euros in 2008 and 2012, with the 2010 World Cup in between) they then dropped into the second pot of seeds at the draw for this one. With that aim in mind, head coach Julen Lopetegui took one or two gambles in the selection of his squad. Out were the likes of recognised internationals such as Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas, as well as the inexperienced Marcos Alonso. Instead, some younger talent such as Marco Asensio and Saúl  were included.

Continue reading

Replacing Iniesta will be Valverde’s biggest challenge at Barcelona

Andres Iniesta

Replacing a club legend is never an easy task, and managers are often define, or destroyed, in their ability to do so.

On Friday morning, club captain Andres Iniesta announced that this will be his last season at the club, in front of a packed media conference.

Whilst the decision to call time on his career at the club has been rumoured for months, the formal confirmation has presented a question – how do you replace Andres Iniesta?

The Spanish international added that he will not move to another La Liga side, or to a European club, as he does not want to come up against his boyhood club

Continue reading

Barcelona set for record equaling La Liga and Copa double


Barcelona have the La Liga title within their grasp, as the Catalan side need just three more league wins to make completely certain of their first title since 2015-16.

The goals and talismanic performances of Lionel Messi, alongside the enduring brilliance of Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, alongside outstanding seasons for Paulinho and Samuel Umtiti  have put Barcelona top of the pile.

The manager Ernesto Valverde also deserves great credit, for his intelligent management of the summer transfer window, his tactical moderations of a great side and his ability to cope with the pressure that comes with this role.

Continue reading

Barcelona set for squad rotation in April


Barcelona remain on course to win the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles this season, but manager Ernesto Valverde will need to do some tinkering.

The Catalans have won the treble three times before, in 1958-59, and famously under Pep Guardiola in 2008-09, and again under Luis Enrique in 2014-15.

However given the tame predictions of how they would fare under Valverde this season, at the start of the campaign, this season could be the biggest achievement yet.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss has diligently redeveloped Barcelona’s tactical approach, as their Golden Generation enters their thirties, and a need for new blood emerges.

Continue reading

Andres Iniesta departure the right time for Barcelona

Andres Iniesta

The chant of “Iniesta quédate” (Iniesta, stay!) came from the stands at the Camp Nou during Sunday’s clash with Athletic Club Bilbao. The Barcelona captain turns 34 in May and it is likely by then he will have won his ninth La Liga title with Barcelona and potentially his sixth Copa del Rey. Few players hold the respect and authority across Spanish football as Andrés Iniesta, but there is a growing sense that this season will be his last in the division. Continue reading

Los 5 mejores centrocampistas de la jornada 9 en la Liga


Hay varios futbolistas que han realizado una tarea ejemplar en el centro del campo. Los centrocampistas han sido claves sobre el terreno del juego, no solo para dar goles, sino también para realizar asistencias y controlar el balón en medio del campo. Estos han sido los grandes protagonistas en esta posición durante la novena jornada liguera.

Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
Asensio realizó un partido espectacular, y no solo por anotar el gol que abrió el marcador en el Bernabéu. El balear fue la pieza clave entre el centro del campo y las líneas más ofensivas.

Claudio Beauvue (Leganés)
Ya nos estamos acostumbrando a ver a futbolistas del conjunto pepinero en esta clasificación. El Leganés sabe muy bien cómo controlar el centro del campo y, para muestra, la actuación de Beauvue. El jugador fue clave en su puesto e incluso anotó el gol que le dio la victoria a su equipo para situarle en quinta posición.

Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
El manchego está en un papel más relegado esta temporada, Valverde quiere dosificarle dada su edad (terminará la temporada con 34 años). No obstante, cuando juega lo hace con la energía y vitalidad de un chaval. Iniesta quizá tenga menos minutos, pero todos los que juega los aprovecha al máximo. En el encuentro frente al Málaga, además anotó el tanto que sentenció el encuentro.

Samu Castillejo (Villarreal)
No anotó ningún gol, pero de sus botas salió una asistencia. Castillejo fue clave en la goleada de un Villarreal que está lanzado. Es una apuesta segura en la liga EFL y que promete muchos puntos.

Faycal Fajr (Getafe)
El centrocampista del conjunto madrileño anotó el gol de su equipo que, momentáneamente, le adelantó en el marcador. Fajr mostró entereza para sacar un punto importante que pudo haber sido más.

Barcelona’s Successful Era coming to an End

There is no doubt that what Barcelona has achieved over the last 12 years is nothing short of dominant. Considering Barca has had to contend with Real Madrid as a main rival for the many domestic and European trophies won, this makes the victories all the more significant.

Combining the trophies with a style of football which is considered both attractive and representative of how the game should be played, adds further impetus to the notion that the core of Barcelona’s squad, particularly the Starting XI between 2008 and 2011, can lay serious claim to being the best club side ever.

Yes Lionel Messi has been with Barcelona since 2004 and yes many claim he is Barca’s and the world’s best ever, but the Catalans were much more than just Messi. The likes of Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Dani Alves are some of the names who were part of this great Barca era.


Fast forward to the 2015-16 season and one cannot help but notice the weaknesses creeping into Barca’s squad despite winning the Spanish league title. The ominous signs were there but the cracks were papered by the presence of a lethal trio comprising Messi, Luis Suarez and the freshly minted PSG star Neymar.

The 2016-17 was perhaps Barca’s worst season in terms of performances as Italian champions Juventus dismantled Barcelona 3-0 in Turin in the 1st leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The warning signs were clear in the previous round when PSG hammered Barca 4-0 only to lose 1-6 in Spain due to a mental collapse by the French team’s players accompanied with a few critical decisions which went Barca’s way.

Setting aside the Champions League failure, Barca could not retain the La Liga title despite boasting Messi, Suarez & Neymar, also referred to as MSN. The Copa del Rey triumph as a mere consolation in an otherwise disappointing season. Sunday’s home defeat to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de España further highlighted Barca’s weaknesses.

With Neymar gone, Barca’s even more dependent on Messi. If the Argentine wizard moves and creates, then Barca is can become dangerous. However, when Messi stops, the Catalian side looks rather mediocre and inept. This over reliance on Messi is countered by a very well-balanced Real Madrid starting XI where even Ronaldo’s absence can be overcome.


Last season, when Ronaldo was rested for a number of Real’s away games, the likes of Isco, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio stepped up to fill the void. Barca could not afford to rest Messi and, as mentioned above, when the Argentina skipper did not deliver, the Catalans looked rather toothless.

Barca’s problems extend beyond the dependence on Messi. Defensively, the side is in desperate need of help and the signing of at least one quality centre-back would be a much welcome relief. In attack, make no mistake but Neymar’s departure has left a void. Suarez was great during the 2015-16 season but his level dropped during the last campaign and he is not a great creator like Messi or even Neymar. A new forward would greatly help Barca and ease the work-load off of Messi’s shoulders.


However, Barca’s greatest problems are in the middle of the park where the club has failed to replace Xavi (since 2015) and more importantly the great Andres Iniesta has slowed down considerably. Iniesta has not played 30 league games in a single season since the 2013-14 campaign due to injury. To add insult to injury, Sergio Busquets has been in perpetual decline despite not yet turning 30 years old.

One major signing might not be enough as even with Neymar last season, Barca looked rather lethargic and short of ideas when Messi was having an off night. All great things come to an end and it’s clearly the end of a winning cycle so urgent changes must be made so as not to waste the remaining few years of Messi’s legendary career.

It is time for Barca’s management to spend big and sign both Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele. Otherwise, this season might be another wasted one, just like the 2015-16 campaign. Will Barca splash the money and sign a couple of star player? Mind you even signing both does not guarantee success with Real having a great squad, deep bench and exceptional quality in midfield.


Inspirational Iniesta epitomizes idolized Spanish style at Euro 2016

Euro 2016

The driving force within Spain’s Euro 2016 squad behind the team’s tiki-taka style of play is undoubtedly Andres Iniesta.

Whilst Iniesta elegantly practices and embodies tiki-taka, pioneering the style, which refers to rapid, short passing between players, was Johann Cryuff.  The Dutchman who died in March of lung cancer, began to implement tiki-taka during his reign as Barcelona manager between 1988 & 1996.

Subsequently Cryuff’s predecessors, fellow Dutchmen, Louis Van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard, along with Pep Guardiola continued to develop tiki taka, whilst promoting it within Barcelona’s La Masia Youth Academy, graduating from which over the years has been an extensive group of exceptionally gifted players who are blessed with wonderful touch, vision, passing and ability to keep the ball.

One of those players is Iniesta, who as a chief architect of tiki-taka, was a key member of the Spanish national team who used the style so successfully to win Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.  In each of those triumphs, Iniesta was influential, scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, whilst also being named player of Euro 2012.

Since then Iniesta’s game has changed markedly whereby the majestic midfielder now drops further into his own half to collect the ball and dictates play from deeper areas.  Nevertheless the 32-year-old continues to brilliantly spark off and support attacks, whilst artistically creating goal-scoring opportunities.

Iniesta displayed his wonderful ability to do that at will in Spain’s opening game of Euro 2016 as they beat the Czech Republic 1-0.  As the most outstanding player on the pitch, Iniesta controlled the game which Spain completely dominated.  That dominance however did not yield a goal until the 86th minute when Iniesta found a pocket of space just outside the Czech Republic’s penalty area before beautifully clipping a pinpoint cross onto the head of Gerard Pique who glanced home.

Despite only winning by a single goal such was their superiority, Spain deserved to run out fare more convincing victors, particularly given the level of patience and perseverance they showed throughout the game, with Iniesta being the driving force behind that.

Barcelona’s virtuoso midfielder continuously moved the ball with grace and style, whilst producing several passes which dissected the Czech rearguard, including the cross that led to the winning goal.  Until that moment Spain had been largely frustrated by the disciplined and well organised Czech’s.  Nevertheless Vicente Del Bosch’s side used all of their experience and guile at breaking down resolute defenses to eventually do so again as expressed by Iniesta himself.

“This is not the first time we have had this kind of match, against a team defending deep, it means they have a lot of respect for how we play the game.  There is not a single solution to breaking these teams down.  You have to keep pressing until you get what you want.  The goal came the way it came – it just takes patience,” said Iniesta, who is playing at his sixth major international tournament in France.

Now with 110 international caps to his name, Iniesta elegantly epitomizes the Spanish style and philosophy of football and has assumed a greater responsibility for doing so since the retirement of his former club and international teammate Xavi, with whom he had a telepathic on-field relationship.

Whilst Spain no longer benefit from that, Iniesta’s midfield partnership with Barcelona club mate Sergio Busquets is one of, if not the, strongest in international football, and therefore vitally important to La Roja’s chances of winning an unprecedented third consecutive European Championship.      

Play EURO 2016 Fantasy Football Game Now!

Main Photo Euro 2016_3

We are delighted to inform you may now join our EURO 2016 Fantasy Football Game!

Who will shine? Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Thomas Muller or Wayne Rooney? Will Gianluigi Buffon and Andres Iniesta make their mark yet again? It’s up to you to select your favorite players and to manage your team!

You can play for FREE or compete for PRIZES!

Click here to create your team: