Xavi and Andres Iniesta will forever be remembered as one of football’s great partnerships.
The Spanish duo enjoyed remarkable success together, both with their national team and Barcelona between 2002-2015.
But what was it like to play against the midfield duo? One man in a better position than most to describe exactly that is Edgar Davids, the former Netherlands international who played both with and against the two superstars during his illustrious playing career.
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Davids, who spent time on loan at the Camp Nou in 2004, admits they were the only two players he couldn’t deal with - even at his peak.
The Dutchman admits it was “impossible” to track the ball with Xavi and Iniesta on the same pitch together.
Davids on playing against Xavi and Iniesta
"I played with both Iniesta and Xavi, but in my good years I could deal with anyone except them," Davids was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca. ”Both were amazing in possession and with positioning, it was impossible to track the ball with them around."
Davids also reserved special praise for Sergio Busquets, the holding midfielder who has been crucial for Barcelona since 2008.
And he admitted he still enjoys returning to Catalonia from time to time.
"In a balanced side, not everyone can attack and Busquets understands that," Davids added. ”I had enough time at Barcelona, I didn't need longer but I'm always welcomed when I return."
Davids inspired Barcelona during his loan spell
Indeed, Davids only spent a few months at Barcelona but his arrival coincided with a dramatic resurgence in form from the Catalan giants.
The tenacious midfielder joined Barca when the club were languishing 12th in La Liga, 18 points behind Real Madrid, having secured just seven victories during the first half of the season.
By the end of the campaign, Barcelona finished above Los Blancos in second place and were only pipped to the title by Valencia.
“Davids was the resurrection,” Sid Lowe wrote in the Guardian back in January 2010. “Occupying the deep-lying midfield position that Madrid had recently eschewed with the departure of Claude Makélélé, he became "the lungs" of the team, breathing life into Barcelona.
“His presence released and protected Xavi Hernández, at last in the playmaker role his passing deserved. It also took pressure off a creaking defence and gave personality and belief to a side with little heart and crumbling confidence.”
Soon after Davids’ departure, Xavi and Iniesta would dominate the Barcelona midfield for the best part of a decade.
Is Xavi and Iniesta the best midfield partnership of all time? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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