Andres Iniesta - how Barcelona's midfielder became one of the world's best

Published 2 Comments

Andres Iniesta is probably the greatest midfielder of his generation, one of the best central midfielders of all time and possibly Spain’s greatest ever footballer. He’s been blessed with so much natural talent, his rise to the top was almost inevitable.

Yet as remarkably good as the little Catalunyan is, his career hasn’t unfolded without a little bit of luck. The fortunate circumstances which led Iniesta on the path to footballing stardom began in 1988 – the day Johan Cruyff was appointed Barcelona manager.

The Cruyff era

After Cruyff's appointment, Barcelona’s identity changed: they had always been a massive club, but Cruyff gave them a clear way of playing. Passing in triangles, interchanging positions and a freedom of movement were drilled into the academy players from a very young age. 


Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250 word test article:

Article continues below

Barca became synonymous with fluid football, culminating in 4 straight league titles and a Champions League win during Cruyff’s stewardship.

The total football introduced by the outspoken Dutchman was paramount in their journey to the status they achieved in the Guardiola era; becoming arguably the greatest club team football has ever seen.

Article continues below

Fluid football aside, the main tactical adjustment by Cruyff, however, was the implementing of the 4-3-3 formation – this is where Iniesta comes into it.

The importance of 4-3-3

I know this is very hard to imagine, but let’s imagine Barcelona have always played a standard 4-4-2 formation – would Iniesta be the player he is now? There’s no doubting his ability, but in a flat midfield four, it’s hard to see where Iniesta would have slotted in.

Xavi and Busquets would have likely filled the two central positions; maybe Iniesta would have fitted in left midfield but would he be the player he is now? It’s unlikely.

The only position that perfectly suits Iniesta and his wonderful array of talents, is the position that’s been afforded to him throughout his career – the left of a midfield three. If he grew up in a team that played any other formation, his career could have gone very differently.

Why there's no English Iniesta

There are several reasons why there's no English player resembling Iniesta: the insistence on physicality in the English game, fewer coaches who are willing, or capable, to coach technique to a high level; but what about the rarity of the 4-3-3 formation?

Up until the late noughties, clubs in England would rarely adopt a 4-3-3; the vast majority of teams, even the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, would line up in a 4-4-2. If the first teams aren’t playing with a central midfield three, what are the chances that youth teams are?

The obsession with the 4-4-2 up until relatively recently, has potentially discarded several players of Iniesta’s ilk to the footballing scrapheap.

It's a sorry but blatant reality that if an English version of Iniesta came through the ranks at a club like West Brom - where Pulis generally sticks to a rigid 4-4-2 - then they would be dropped in favour of someone like James Morrison.

Too much impetus on hard work and a lack of focus on skill and technique will continue to stunt the development of creative English midfielders, and people wonder why they continue to fail at International level.

Is Andres Iniesta the greatest midfielder in world football right now? Have your say in the comments section below!

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

La Liga
Andres Iniesta

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again