Challenge: Build a team around Iniesta

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Post by dostoevsky Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:00 am

Given the tendency during the transfer season to give way to wild speculation and conjecture, I thought now would be a perfect chance to use this creatively whilst also exercising a degree of tactical analysis to discuss a favourite (non-Milan) player of mine, Iniesta. The idea for this thread actually stems from a comment made by Yuri Yukuv which I would like to acknowledge, in which he stated how he would love to see Iniesta leave Barcelona to see a team built exclusively around him.

A few questions arose in my mind about how one would best build a team around Iniesta, however I believe a few major points arise which each mind might treat differently, though you might equally view other issues as being more vital to the discussion. The main points I wish to address are, how well could Iniesta perform outside of Barcelona and which system would he thrive under if he was the focal point of the team? What specifically would make the team instantly recognisable as '"Iniesta's" if one glanced at the line up? Due to his rather humble nature, would a player with a significant amount of character or an on the field 'ego' so to speak bear a significant risk of stealing the limelight?

I considered quite a few formations, however I shall offer two in my discussion, the 3-4-1-2 and the 4-3-2-1, with the significant tweaks being made in midfield.

Given that the key element of this idea is that Iniesta would have no Barcelona players to link up with, I immediately began to consider certain forwards who might compensate for the loss of someone such as Messi, with my thoughts instantly turning to Sergio Aguero, however my concern is that he might grow to dominate the play of the team in a manner contrary to what I had in mind, however I believe there is a second striker with incredible potential to link up with Iniesta, who is versatile, hard working, and intelligent enough to not only benefit from Iniesta's presence but help to bring out the best in Andrés. His name is Thomas Müller, and he's significantly the first name I would add to my team, built around Iniesta.

I've realised that it will take too long to discuss every choice, however hopefully that little example helps you to understand my thinking, so now I'll simply post my teams and I shall allow discussion to be brought out naturally as the thread progresses, as I wouldn't want to narrow the focus of the thread. I'm looking forward to the various ways people believe Iniesta could be used as a focal point.

3-4-1-2

Quagliarella---Müller

Iniesta

G. Johnson---Sahin---De Rossi---Maggio

Agger---Lucio---Silva

De Gea

4-3-2-1

Dzeko

Iniesta---Müller

Meireles---Schweinsteiger---Moutinho

Cole---Hummels---Nesta---Lahm

Lloris

The defence needn't have changed necessarily, however I thought I'd be kind and share the love. Be creative as you like and I look forward to the responses.
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Post by Albiceleste Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:28 am

---------------Reina
Lahm--T. Silva--Luiz--Marcelo
------Arteta--Alonso--Cesc
---------Iniesta---Lamela
---------------Aguero


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Post by Kylar Stern Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:52 am

3-4-1-2

Neuer
Ramos--- Vidic ---Thiago Silva
Mata---De Rossi--- X.Alonso--- Sanchez
Iniesta
Hernandez---Ibrahimovic

Now reasons behind my selections:

Neuer = Amazing and Athletic goalkeeper who has the presence of mind to remain focused and make a single decisive save in a game where there are few meaningful attacks by the opposition (on account of the strength of the mid-field and back three.

Back 3 = Ramos and Thiago Silva all have the ability to pass the ball very well allowing attacks to start from the back. Ramos, who has been played primarily at RB has the ability to play as part of a back three due to his erstwhile talent at CB which can be re-cultivated by a good manager. Vidic is, in a Manchester United fans humble opinion, a beast. He has the ability to dominate any large and powerful forward as well as anything in the air, and is fit enough to deal with most else with assistance from his other compatriots.

Now for the midfield: Juan Mata is one of the most talented youngsters out there, and his ability to cross the ball, shoot and play centrally make him incredibly important to any team. Additionally (in accordance to goal.com’s article) he is modest and humble, allowing him to fit in the dressing room successfully whilst also gelling with the unassuming personality of Iniesta. De Rossi and X.Alonso provide steel in midfield, protecting the back 3. De Rossi in particular would prevent man-handling of Iniesta while Xabi Alonso will add an extra facet to the squads attaching dynamic. Lastly, Sanchez has been given a berth on the left due to his direct dribbling style, pace, and willingness to attack – perhaps even giving the team a player who could lead the counter, get in behind the defence, and when needed partner Iniesta in behind the strikers.

Strikers: Now I can understand why the strike force of this team would be perhaps, the most disputed issue. Hernandez is a single season wonderkid and Ibra doesn’t need much explanation. However, Hernandez enjoyed a terrific gold cup adding credence to the fact that his star will only continue to rise. However his main purpose in this team is to score goals. With the likes of Alonso, Iniesta and Mata providing the through-balls, Chicharito has the pace to burn – and the finishing to boot – to destroy teams in front of goal. I think he would particularly go well with Iniesta’s style of play, as he mostly likes to keep the ball on the ground. As for Ibra; he has the size, creativity and finishing to score and create goals, in particular taking advantage of the wingers whilst also holding up the ball to allow Hernandez, Sanchez, Mata and Iniesta to play off him.

4-3-2-1
Lahm---Silva---Vidic---Evra
Modric---Sahin---Wilshere
Iniesta---Sneijder
Cavani

I think that this team is pretty much self-explanatory. The back four has an amazing CB pairing as well as two of the best full backs in the world. Evra over Ashley Cole was a personal choice may I add, owing to my allegiance to Manchester United. I realise that looking at the Midfield three many will think that I am biased to the EPL, however I would like to argue that I am not. My simple reason for choosing these players was that I was reluctant to re-use the same players in both formations and also reluctant to use Real Madrid players (I know Sahin is at Madrid though). As for Serie A, I admit I was tempted to incorporate Hamsik and Hernanes. The reasons behind my three selections were that all three players are all action mid-fielders, and while Modric cannot defend, he retains the ball magnificently and passes beautifully. Sneijder partners Iniesta because he adds a dead-ball and goal threat as well as his play-making and on his day is the best pure AM in today’s game. Cavani is the last and final player on the team because of his pace, versatility and finishing. Although Eto’o was my original choice I thought that Cavani is younger and has proved himself in a team with a midfield inferior to that of Inters. Imagine Cavani with such a mid-field behind him…
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Post by messixaviesta Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:17 am

dost, this idea came up in the summer of 2009 when I was discussing with my friend who is an avid Inter Milan fan. At that time Inter were looking for a trequartista and my friend's top choice was Iniesta even though it was impossible to get him. Later Inter signed Sneijder and the rest is history.

Essentially I can see Iniesta in four kinds of systems :

1) the 4-3-3 that is used at Barcelona where Iniesta is the link up player between midfield and attack. In contrast when Argentina try to use a 4-3-3 of their own they lack a player like Iniesta and that's one reason why they are not able to get a midfield as top class and dynamic. Carlo Garganese has mentioned more than once that Iniesta is exactly the kind of player that the present Italy national team really need to move to the next level. Not having such a player is making things difficult.

2) the 4-3-2-1 which you also suggested. This formation will be less attacking than the previous one. It may be needed when your team cannot dominate possession in the way Barca do or so to say don't have a Xavi. Therefore you go for defensive solidity. In this situation Iniesta comes further forward and works alongside another creator to supply a lone striker.

3) the 4-3-1-2 for the Inter example that I gave. This kind of system is not working very well nowadays for some reasons. One is that it needs quality full backs on both flanks and that is difficult to find nowadays. The second is that it makes the team dependent on the player and takes away their dynamic nature as used to happen with Riquelme at Argentina. However Iniesta being more dynamic I think can handle such a role interchanging well with the midfielders behind him and supplying the two strikers up front.

4) the 4-2-3-1 with wingers/forwards on either side of him and a center forward ahead of him. This would be similar to the way Ozil plays for Germany.

Now let's look at what happens with Spain. Since they play with three midfielders in the center which usually works out as X.Alonso to the left, Busquets in the center and Xavi to the right, the formation is called a 4-3-3 but it's not really that. Villa is on the left or in the center. Along with that we have either Torres/Lllorente in the center or Pedro on the right. Hence Iniesta is supposed to take one of the wings but he essentially has more of a free role whereby he takes up whatever position is needed at whatever time. We can think of this as a slightly altered 4-3-1-2 so to say.


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Post by The Franchise Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:22 pm

Doest, why is Johnson playing on the lefthandside when he is really a rightback? Interesting explanation perhaps?

Great thread by the way.

For me, I am hugely torn. On one hand, it makes sense to make Iniesta a central figure on the field is he indeed is going to be the key player in the team. But on the other, in a pure tactical sense, I think he would play better with someone pairing with him, like Xavi does, a true pairing.

So, shall I go with a system in which he is a number 10 type player? Or just a general formation which he can fit into and he happens to be the best player?

I guess I could do both, I have unique formations for each. But I will wait to see how the thread progresses first. For now, I will use him as a central figure.





Challenge: Build a team around Iniesta 146835_Fifa_Team


As we know, formations are far less important then style, its the way you play which really tells us anything. The same 442 laid out on paper can be applied completely different on the pitch. This surprisingly, given the fact it is centered around Iniesta, isnt a possession based team.

My idea here is flexibility, we have players who are very capable in possession and creative. So against the lower level teams, there is clear ability to find holes and pick them apart via the pass. Vidal is very good on the ball, his stats for the amount of touches he gets per game are amazing.

In the final 1/3 with Iniesta being crucial to linking the midfield to the final 3rd there is alot of dynamism aswell as creativity. While Iniesta is playing a number 10-like role, I dont expect him to be playing final passes often in the classic sense, his role doesnt change too much.

Where this team comes alive though, you can see the clear ability to play on the counter attack. Hulk, Eto'o, Neymar are mobile, very fast and very dynamic. In iso situations, these 3 are a complete nightmare, especially the two Brazilians. Both are also great decision makers and are capable of playing final balls.

I was going back and forth on who will be my 9. I think crucially I wanted an in box presence, so this ruled out Ibra, RVP and these type who like to get the ball at their feet and often outside the box. So, I wanted someone who runs in behind and has great movement. But I didnt want a Falcao for example, because I wanted the max threat on the counter attack. In the end, I felt Samu was the best option.

Vidal and Guarin are hugely energetic, with Guarin you get a goalscoring threat from midfield both in the box, in the air and from distance. Yaya in open ground is simply a train and because of the 3 defenders, he can move forward in counter attack situations. Iniesta being a unbelievable decision maker and expert dribbler slots it all together nicely on the break.

Defensively, we have Ferdinand who can sit deep and mop up any danger in behind the two other CB's, he is superb at reading the game in that way. He hardly ever has to slide tackle, for this reason.

We will allow space out wide for crosses because Ferdinand, Juan and Lucio are monsters in the air and all 3 midfielders have good size should they drop in too. Crosses will get easily won and then we get to counter with the tremendous speed and ability we have throughout the side.

Dont want to ramble on much more, because I easily could. But this is my basic idea with Iniesta being "central" to it all. I imagine this style of play being very similar to that of FC Porto's.












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Post by free_cat Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:26 pm

There is already a team that is quite built around Iniesta: Spain. He was the best player for Spain in the WC IMO. I think the best position for Iniesta would be the AM in a 4231. Or also in a wing in the 4231 where the full back attacks, as he usually does with Spain with great effect. With Barça, he plays much worse in the wing, as in our 433 the winger is more a forward than the 4231 and with already 3 midfielders and Messi, Iniesta crowds the midfield too much, but for Spain he works great on the wings as long as there's an overlapping FB.
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Post by The Franchise Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:21 pm

@free_cat wrote:There is already a team that is quite built around Iniesta: Spain. He was the best player for Spain in the WC IMO. I think the best position for Iniesta would be the AM in a 4231. Or also in a wing in the 4231 where the full back attacks, as he usually does with Spain with great effect. With Barça, he plays much worse in the wing, as in our 433 the winger is more a forward than the 4231 and with already 3 midfielders and Messi, Iniesta crowds the midfield too much, but for Spain he works great on the wings as long as there's an overlapping FB.

Superb point.

Nothing to add, only have to agree about the difference tactically and personale wise between us and Spain and Iniesta's position on the wing.
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Post by messixaviesta Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:52 am

@free_cat wrote:There is already a team that is quite built around Iniesta: Spain. He was the best player for Spain in the WC IMO. I think the best position for Iniesta would be the AM in a 4231. Or also in a wing in the 4231 where the full back attacks, as he usually does with Spain with great effect. With Barça, he plays much worse in the wing, as in our 433 the winger is more a forward than the 4231 and with already 3 midfielders and Messi, Iniesta crowds the midfield too much, but for Spain he works great on the wings as long as there's an overlapping FB.

Excellent my friend. Every word is golden and almost straight from my mind as well. Two points to re-emphasize. Iniesta is not best suited to the wings but he can play there well depending on certain conditions. What he basically needs is a full back to help him drop into midfield and the space and the link up players to be able to participate in the game in a big way. With Barcelona due to Messi being such an immense presence his participation is decreased. However due to Abidal/Adriano providing width and Villa being a great link up player it's still not too bad unlike last year when having to play with Ibrahimovic really brought out the worst in him. Secondly when playing for Spain Iniesta is without Messi. Here he is the magic man - the player whom the rest of the team looks to make things happen. In WC 2010 Del Bosque felt unhappy at having to face even Honduras without Iniesta. He is that crucial in that team.

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Post by dostoevsky Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:03 am

Dani, Johnson's inclusion was a combination of factors, partly due to a wish to include a few players who I believe deserve more credit but who aren't necessarily world class, in an attempt to build a team in which I believe Iniesta would noticeably be the link in elevating the team from a strong unit to one who could beat anyone on their day. Partly also to simply acknowledge a few players I enjoy watching even if they aren't the best in their positions. Johnson is still as you say, a natural right back of course, however I thought he responded well to the challenge of playing on the left in Liverpool's time of need this season and developing his game on an unnatural side, whilst he also would provide a willingness to play the ball on the ground when forced left, something I thought necessary in order to maintain Iniesta's control over the team's style. Muller's ability to pull wide is complimented by Maggio's willingness to cut into the box when the occasion calls, so a similar idea on the left would also give a greater playmaking ability to Sahin or De Rossi in the middle given their ability to pick out runs in behind the defence to ensure variety and diversity in attack. A name such as Coentrao or Marcelo would be my instant reaction when building some sort of dream team using a left wing back, however I wanted to consider less credited players and though not ideal, I believe Johnson could give a decent account of himself in the team and in any case deserved some acknowledgement, rather like the choice of Quagliarella over Van Persie.

Free cat, very interesting observation though I don't believe Iniesta's best will be continually brought out of him in the national set-up until one of Busquets or Xabi Alonso is replaced in the lineup. Excellent post though and I definitely agree about his wing play and his use in the Spanish set-up. Even if unable to return to midfield for Spain, as long as Cesc or another midfielder such as Borja Valero plays in place of Alonso then we'll see the best of Iniesta, though I feel the entire team is stunted at times when using the initial World Cup lineup. A wonderful practical example of Iniesta's influence outside of a purely Barcelona set-up however.
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Post by The Franchise Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:44 am

Thanks for the explanation Doest, makes a ton of sense.
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Post by messixaviesta Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:46 am

This is what I tweeted today.



@andresiniesta8 Your scoring the winning and only goal in the world cup 2010 final is my greatest moment in football.

Iniesta = touches, close control, awareness, quick thinking, passing, vision, off ball movement, resilience, team play, big match performer

I think Spain's 5 best players at WC 2010 in order were Iniesta > Casillas > Villa > Xavi > Puyol

Iniesta played a major part in 4 out of the 8 goals Spain scored at WC 2010 - 3 out of 4 in the knock out stages.


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Post by messixaviesta Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:49 am

Oh in case you didn't know it's the first anniversary of Spain's world cup triumph. So now lets hear from David Villa.



"I saw grown men crying like babies," Villa began. "In the dressing room we all burst into tears. I was shocked to see tears from Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta - players who have won everything in football - crying. I cried like a child."

"That goal meant a lot. It was the ticket to the semi-finals, ending the curse. It came with the game in a crazy period where the ball hit the post three times."


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Post by messixaviesta Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:54 am

Finally let's hear from the man himself - my alter ego on the football pitch. Smile



Iniesta: "Before scoring, I heard the silence. It was an incredible moment. It seemed like the world had frozen. I knew it would go in."

Iniesta: "At the end of the game, I fell down on the pitch. Valdes came running to me, but he couldn't say a word. He just cried and cried."

Iniesta: "Right before the final, I asked a physio to make the Dani Jarque tribute shirt. He prepared it while we were warming up."


BTW in case you didn't know Iniesta and Valdes are best friends. Valdes was asked some time back how it felt to witness his best friend score the winning and only goal in a world cup final and he replied that he just couldn't describe what he felt in words.

We can't end without a comment from our two icons - Messi and Xavi. Messi called Iniesta the best player at WC 2010. Of course you may not agree but he is entitled to his opinion. Xavi said Iniesta's performance in the world cup final was incredible in which he was like everywhere on the pitch driving the team again and again and not once giving the ball away. The goal was the deserved reward for that kind of performance on that kind of occasion.



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Post by messixaviesta Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:46 am

That was not all. Let's first hear from Pedro and then from none other than the maestro.


Fb Pedro: "Today it's one year since the win in South Africa, the most special moment in my life and a historic day for Spanish football."

Fb Pedro: "I will never forget the action that Andres Iniesta finished in an spectacular way. How did you live it?"


Xavi: "Winning the World Cup was amazing... We all went crazy. It is difficult to describe. It is one of the best days of my life."

Xavi: "Having many Barça players at ESP helps. When you know someone well, things become much simpler; that's true in just about anything."

Xavi: "You need to think. Think quickly, look for spaces. That's what I do. I see space and I pass."

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