Andres Iniesta is unarguably one of the best footballers of his generation and given he will play his 500th game for Barcelona tonight, we will introduce him as the first in our World Cup Game Breakers feature.
In this new feature Soccer Laduma looks at the players who could be vital in taking their country to victory or getting them deep into the tournament. Every Wendnesday, over the next nine weeks, we will introduce one potential World Cup star, who could lead his country to glory in Brazil.
Iniesta came through La Masia, the youth academy of FC Barcelona, and has experienced an impressive career since making his first-team debut in 2002 as an 18-year-old.
He has become an integral part of the Barcelona midfield and has won 21 club trophies with the Blaugrana. After winning the UEFA European Under-16 and Under-19 Championship with Spain’s youth national teams, his great skills and vision earned him his first-team debut for Spain in 2006.
However, he only became a major figure on the international stage at the UEFA EURO 2008, where he was named in the Team of the Tournament after he helped La Furia Roja to victory.
Many remember him for his extra-time goal in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands in South Africa, but Iniesta was a key member of Spain’s success throughout the tournament. He was named Man of the Match in the final and again selected to the tournament’s All-Star Team.
His influence on international stage continued at the UEFA EURO 2012, where he steered Spain to their second consecutive continental crown. This time he was voted as the Best Player of the Tournament after winning three Man of the Match awards (including the final against Italy).
At the 2013 Confederations Cup, he was again the best player of his country, winning the Silver Ball for the second best player of the tournament behind Neymar, but could not prevent the 3-0 final defeat to Brazil
Amongst many personal accolades, he was runner-up to Lionel Messi for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or and achieved third place in 2012. This season, Iniesta has again been a pivotal member in Barcelona’s midfield and has helped his side to be in contention for trophies.
Under Iniesta’s guidance, Spain has dominated the last three major tournaments in world football and his country are again amongst the favourites for the World Cup.
If Spain were to reach far in Brazil, they would need the 29-year-old to keep up with his consistent level of brilliant performances.
Can Andres Iniesta be the ‘game breaker’ for Spain at the 2014 World Cup? Have your say in the comment section below.