The Magic of Andres Iniesta.
Before Barcelona's demolition job of Manchester United in Rome last night all the talk before hand had been about how it was Manchester United's midfield's time to shine. Anderson and Park-Ji Sung were hyped in the media as being potential match winners when there were major doubts over the fitness of perhaps the most underrated midfielder of this modern generation.
Born on the 11th of May 1984 in the little village of Fuentealbilla near Albacete Andres Iniesta has become one of the greatest players to have ever graced the Nou Camp. Having come through the ranks at Barcelona he made his debut in a Champions League game versus Club Brugge in the Autumn of 2002 under then manager Louis Van Gaal.
Fast forward seven years on Tuesday evening and Iniesta's chances of participating in a second champions league final looked in major doubt having not played since his dramatic stoppage time winner at Stamford Bridge three weeks earlier which had sealed the Catalan Giants place in the showpiece final of world football. Perhaps it was a tactic used by Josep Guardiola to leave it until the final moment to decide whether to play the magician. It was clear amongst the Spanish press how pivotal the 35 time cap Spaniard was to Barca's chances of defeating the 'world's best' team.
Iniesta stepped onto the pitch with his midfield partner for club and country Xavi and took control of the game after a nervy opening five minutes for Barcelona. Iniesta was majestic with a display of passing perfection which stopped Manchester United finding ways through the Spaniard's makeshift backline.
Sir Alex had warned of the threat that Iniesta posed to United's task of winning back to back European titles beforehand, and his prediction had come true. With the eyes of the world on Rome Iniesta along with the rest of his Barcelona teammates not only beat United they outplayed them, humiliated them and sent them back to Manchester with their tails between their legs.
Eto'o and Messi grabbed the goals and Messi in particular will take the headlines the tiny Argentine was Barca's driving attacking force but the way that Iniesta subdued the United midfield was untrue.
Last summer we were all left in awe of Spain's magnificent displays during the European Championships where Iniesta was again a driving force in bringing home the trophy, but once again he was overshadowed by the big 'stars' such as Villa and Torres.
Whether for club or country Andres Iniesta will not only work his socks off for the cause he will add that bit of class that other players can only dream of. His performances for club and country with his partner in crime Xavi force the opposition into submission.
Last night Pep Guardiola tactically outwitted the 'master' Sir Alex who in fairness had no excuses for what perhaps was the most one sided Champions League final in history. United who had arrived in the Eternal city full of confidence and with the belief that they would be the first club to win back to back Champions League titles. Instead the midfield magician once more showed his class, in a jaw dropping display which had football fans around the globe in awe.
Last night capped what has been a sensational year for Barcelona and Spanish football and in particular for Iniesta who is finally becoming recognised as on the world's best.
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