Andres Iniesta has been named to FIFA’s FIFPro World XI six times. He was named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2012 and would have won the 2010 Ballon d’Or if not for Lionel Messi.
It’s fair to say Iniesta is rather good at football.
Yet the midfielder’s success will have come as no surprise to his La Masia teammates.
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Arsene Wenger revealed ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League game with Barcelona that Mikel Arteta once told him a story about Iniesta’s time as a youngster at Barca’s famous academy.
“Iniesta is one of the best players Barcelona have produced,” the Frenchman started, per Sport.
“He was in the academy with Arteta, who told me at that time everybody at the academy said 'If Iniesta doesn't make it we have no chance.’
“They knew he was going to the top and he has justified that. He is one of the greatest players Barcelona has produced.”
Praise doesn’t get much higher. Lionel Messi might be the only La Masia graduate to achieve greater things than Iniesta.
That said, Messi can’t include scoring the winner in a World Cup final among his list of achievements.
Iniesta is Barca's playmaker
Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar might be Wenger’s biggest threats in tonight’s game but he will certainly be devising a plan to stop Iniesta from influencing the game.
Barcelona already have one foot in the quarter-finals following their 2-0 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium last month.
Messi scored both goals to give Barca the advantage entering the second leg.
Luis Enrique’s team are favourites to make history by becoming the first team to win the Champions League in back-to-back seasons and their rivals have done little to suggest Barca can be stopped.
Bayern Munich still have work to do in their last-16 tie - they face Juventus tonight, with the aggregate score currently at 2-2 - while Real Madrid will be unnerved by their 4-0 defeat to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu in November.
Meanwhile, Messi and co. have been unstoppable this season. Their 6-0 mauling of Getafe on Sunday was their 37th straight game without loss.
And to make matters worse for Wenger, Barca managed to score six without Luis Suarez on the field.
Arsenal must attack tonight
The Uruguayan has scored 42 goals this campaign. Combined with Messi and Neymar, the trio have found the net 103 times.
But Arsenal have little option but to throw caution to the wind. They must score at least twice if they are to have any hope of reaching the last-eight.
Per Mertesacker revealed how Arsenal will approach the game against what he called the “ultimate team”.
“We have to go there and try to attack, no matter what, that is the only possibility we have,” he admitted, per Arsenal’s website. “We can be fortunate to have such big game in front of us.
“They are the ultimate team at the minute, so we are straight away under pressure and we have to go away from home.”
Where does Iniesta rank among the greatest players in football history? Have your say in the comments section below!
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