by ACHERE BUXTON
DEBATE: WHO WINS UEFA EUROPEAN BEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR?
On the 30th of August, 2012, the UEFA best player for 2011/2012 will be announced. The finalists are Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona duo, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Three analysts will make a case for each player: Achere Buxton (Andres Iniesta), Emmanuel Ekow Firmer Ampiah (Cristiano Ronaldo) and Emil Alcantara Alexis (Lionel Messi).
Andrés Iniesta Luján is an attacking midfielder for FC Barcelona and La Roja, the Spanish national team. Born 11 May 1984, he joined Barca at the age of 12 in 1996 after he was scouted at a Brunette tournament playing for Albacete.He is a product of La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy. In 2002, at the age of 18 he made his first debut for FC Barcelona and started playing regularly in the 2004/5 season and made his national team debut in 2006 after playing the Under-16, U-19 and U-21 teams.
This shy and pale midfielder has become the benchmark for any modern midfielder. As playmaker, he is able to cut and tear any defence into bits with his exquisite passes even through the tightest of defences. He is able to hold spectators and even his opponents spell bound with the skilful soccer he plays and the flair he plays it with. Even though he started as a defensive midfielder, he has grown to be able to play any role on the pitch being it attacking midfield, false winger, central midfielder, and a defensive midfielder.
Only a few players have excelled for both club and country, some being Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. Iniesta’s performance for both his club and country are beyond wonderful, having won every available trophy in his sphere. A lot of people may attribute the success of Barcelona to Lionel Messi, but those who really understand the logic of soccer know that Iniesta is the magician who strings all the passes together. Intelligent coaches see him as the danger man with his cutting through balls, his ability to dribble and beat defenders and his off-the-ball movements on the pitch. He enjoys creating spaces on the pitch and also easily locates players who are well positioned to score goals. He is like unseen engine that drives the team with his sixth sense of finding players and passing them the ball and also finding the net and scoring brilliant goals. His brilliant passes, intelligence, agility, ball control, balance, hardwork, ability to create and score goals put him in a class of his own. As an individual, he is a great team player and very humble. He is an asset every coach would like to have on his team.
He might not have scored a lot of goals, but he has assisted a lot of goals and those rare times he scores, he scores very crucial goals, examples being in the UEFA champions league semi final game against Chelsea in 2009 where he scored the injury time screamer and in the 2010 World Cup final match against Netherlands (Both occasions creating a baby boom in Catalonia and Spain). As a member of La Roja, he shows that indeed, he is a complete player and understands the position of a midfielder. He helped his team win the Euro 2008, World cup 2010 and Euro 2012 (a record set by La Roja). In 2009-10, he went ahead with FC Barcelona to win all 6 cups to be won in one season.
When Barcelona play without him, you notice a difference and void left by him. Without Iniesta, the Spanish team and Barcelona won’t have achieved this much and come this far. His accomplishments with Barcelona include:
La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12; Runner-up 2010–11
Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11
UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011; Runner-up 2006
FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011; Runner-up 2006
And for the Spanish national team:
FIFA World Cup: 2010
And his Individual achievements include:
UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
UEFA Euro 2008 Man Of The Match Semi-final vs. Russia
La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2009
La Liga’s Best Attacking Midfielder: 2009, 2011
FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Team of the Year: 2009, 2010, 2011
2010 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
2010 FIFA World Cup Man Of The Match vs. Chile, Paraguay and Final vs Netherlands
Prince of Asturias Awards: 2010
FIFA Ballon d’Or: Second place 2010, 4th Place 2011
FIFA Puskás Award: Second place 2009
UEFA Best Player in Europe Award: 4th Place 2011
UEFA Euro 2012 Man Of The Match vs. Italy, Croatia, Final vs Italy
UEFA Euro Player of the Tournament: 2012