I’m ex-player, ex-technical director, ex-coach, ex-manager, ex-honorary president. A nice list that once again shows that everything comes to an end
-Johan Cruijff 
Football is a very unique sport in the sense that statistics like possession, shots on goal, saves cannot intuitively reveal how the match went about. The scorecard of almost every other sport will give us a very solid picture of events. If you miss a cricket match just a peek at the scorecard will allow us to replay the highlights in our minds even without reading the match reports. It is nearly impossible to do something analogous when it comes to football. 

It is the same with individual performances. Stats truly do not reveal how well a defender or a midfielder have played. Assessing the forwards is the easiest thing to do because they are the ones who finish the moves. Little wonder that the of the 62 Ballon D'or winners only 6 non-forwards have won the hallowed award and the last non-forward was Fabio Cannavaro way back in 2006 and the one before that was a further 10 years ago: Matthias Sammer in 1996. The very unreliable "eye test" is, paradoxically, the only reliable method to form opinions.

There's the pitch. It's yours. Play.

Andrés Iniesta officially announced today that he is leaving Camp Nou after 22 years. He is the perfect example of how statistics cannot capture the greatness of a footballer. He averages around 4 goals and 6 assists per season since 2007. That's like a fortnight's output for his teammate Messi and yet the man from La Mancha is the 2nd name on the team sheet when fully fit. His performances have led to Pascal Ferre, the editor of France Football, to apologize for not awarding him the Ballon D'orIt is probably one of the great travesties of our time but Andrés won the biggest prize there is: universal love from all fans, even Los Merengues

In the 2016 Copa Del Rey final, Mascherano brought down Gameiro and was sent off for denying a goalscoring chance. Barça had to re-adjust against a Sevilla side that had torn Liverpool asunder in the Europa League final just 4 days earlier. Seconds from the end of regulation, a Messi through ball found Neymar and Banega denied a goalscoring opportunity and it was 10 vs 10. Six minutes into extra time a glorious pass from Messi was slid in by Alba and a few ticks from the end another Messi through ball was buried by Neymar to end the match. 

The decisive moments were provided by Messi, yet Iniesta conducting the midfield, especially after Barça went a man down, was deemed more important and won him the man of the match award. Dribble out of tight spaces, keep things ticking, find the open man, make yourself available for an outlet pass. Just getting the basics right. Guess who found Messi before the defence splitting pass that led to Banega's ejection. Classic Iniesta; understated but crucial. 

Adéu Andrés.
You will be sorely missed.


Popular Posts