Tag Archives: Andres Iniesta

Fantasy Matches: Real Madrid 15-18 vs Barcelona 08-11

When you think about the best teams of the modern era, there are two that stick out like a sore thumb.

During a period where Spanish football was the home of the best players and managers in the world, it was obviously Barcelona and Real Madrid that had periods of dominance across Europe and domestically.

But what would have happened if you put those two teams, at their best, head-to-head with each other? We’re here to break it down and try and figure it out.



Barcelona between 2008 and 2011 were and are considered one of the greatest club sides in the history of football.

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, they revolutionised the way attacking football was played up until this day. They dominated possession, scored countless goals, passed opponents to death and were the home to arguably the greatest player of all-time in Lionel Messi.

Their 4-3-3 system with attacking full-backs and technically secure players all over the pitch set the benchmark as they won two Champions League trophies, three La Liga titles, three Spanish Super Cups, a Copa Del Rey, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups across three-and-a-half seasons.

Real Madrid couldn’t compete with them during that period, but they made their own mark half a decade later when they not only became the first team to retain their Champions League trophy but they also made it three-in-a-row.

Add to that a La Liga title, a Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two World Club Cups under Zinedine Zidane (plus an extra World Club Cup under Santi Solari after Zidane’s resignation), this is a team synonymous with success and winning.

The brilliant goalscoring of Cristiano Ronaldo, the majestic midfield play of Luka Modric and Tony Kroos, the playmaking from full-back by Marcelo and the leadership of Sergio Ramos at the back, this was a complete squad.

The difference between these two powerhouse teams is that Real Madrid were able to adapt their style of play depending on the opponent.

Against weaker opposition they had the ability to dominate the ball and carve open defences to score goals, while pushing high up the pitch to sustain pressure.

When they came up against quality outfits though, Zidane would ensure they sat a bit deeper defensively, were compact in midfield and explosive on the counter attack with the pace of Ronaldo, Benzema and even Gareth Bale leading the way.

Barcelona on the other hand were the same no matter what. Much like today’s Guardiola, it was all about controlling the ball and dominating possession. Short passes, lots of sharp movements and rotation across positions and technical security meant they were unshakeable on the ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane pose for a photo accepts The Best FIFA Men's Player award during The Best FIFA Football Awards at The London...

But the Catalan legend also instilled a hunger in the team to win the ball back as soon as possible when they did lose it, famously starting a seven-second press that if the opponent was able to surpass would usually result on them being in on goal.

It’s fair to say that Zidane’s Madrid side would ultimately allow Barcelona to have the ball in midfield and be compact, while using their own technical abilities and brilliant quality to try and pick them off on the counter as they did to so many top sides during their Champions League wins during that period.

The difference however, is that this Madrid side never came up against this Lionel Messi.

The little Argentine was a totally different animal under Guardiola, which is terrifying considering all he has achieved since they parted ways in 2012.

Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona FC receives the FIFA player of the year award during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2010 t the congress hall on...

I have no doubts that Ronaldo would likely have a say on the game himself, because during this period of time he was at his goalscoring best and most clutch. But Messi could effect the game without just putting the ball into the net.

David Villa and Pedro were also huge goalscoring threats from the wing, while Dani Alves in his peak was arguably the best right-back of all-time. It’s hard to imagine this Real Madrid side keeping this peak Barcelona side goalless for 90 minutes and while I wouldn’t bet against them scoring themselves, ultimately the greatest player of all-time would separate the two best club sides we’ve seen in this era of football.

Prediction: Real Madrid (15-18) 1-2 Barcelona (08-11) / Messi masterclass.

My Perfect Footballer #6 – Omozay

We’ve been blessed over the last few generations of footballer to see some of the best of all time perform at their absolute peak.

Chelsea fan Omoze Edeki, otherwise known as Omozay on Twitter, has gathered all her football knowledge together without using any player more than once, she’s collated different attributes and built her perfect footballer.


Brain 
Mesut Ozil 

There are no words to even describe how intelligent Ozil is as a player. Throughout his career, whether that be at Real Madrid or Arsenal, the one thing Ozil was hailed for was his football IQ.

Heading Ability
John Terry 

One of, if not the, best players when it comes to being a threat aerially. The technique that he does which provides those bullet headers is just out of this world. It’s the quick jump and power that allows him to be so dangerous in the air as well as his positioning. Being the highest goalscoring defender in Chelsea’s history says it all.

Hands
Petr Cech 

Petr Cech from the Czech Republic, the man was a brick wall in his prime. Paramount to the success of Chelsea’s first two Premier League titles, that was just the start of his legacy as one of the best goalkeepers to touch world football.  

Tackling
Paolo Maldini  

At his very best there isn’t a defender that could accurately time his tackles like Maldini. His presence in defence was one of the many reasons why he is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, even to the point of Milan retiring the number three shirt. 

Agility
Eden Hazard

Hazard has always been known to use his agility to swerve past oncoming defenders who have been tasked with stopping him in his tracks. The way he uses his body and low centre of gravity, coupled with his pace is always a nightmare for defenders. I will never get the West Ham goal at Stamford Bridge in the 18/19 season. What a player.

Passing
Andres Iniesta 

A legend and one of the best midfielders of all time. It was very hard to choose this as I had two other options but Iniesta is my choice. The range of passes this man possessed was not normal. Whether it was to put a player through towards goal, to slice open a defence, or to set the tempo & hold possession – he had it all.

First Touch
Ronaldinho 

I like to refer to Ronaldinho as the master of all trades. His skill set was out of this world and his first touch is by far the best of any player I’ve watched. For me, he is the first touch king.

Speed
Gareth Bale 

Now this is a bit of a weird one because there are a lot of players who could have been chosen. But whenever someone mentions players who used their pace as one of their strengths, the first person that comes to mind is Gareth Bale. At his peak he was considered one of the if not the fastest player in world and was one of the big reasons why he developed into a world class footballer.

Dribbling
Lionel Messi  

The real GOAT. Messi is known for many things and will go down as the greatest player to ever play the game, but one aspect of his game that always amazes me is his dribbling. The ball is like a magnet to his feet, nothing can repel it away not even the greatest defenders. One of my earliest memories of Messi was his goal against Getafe when he was 19-years-old – receiving the ball from the half way line and going past players as if they weren’t there.

Skills
Neymar  

A joy to watch, Neymar is one of the most skilful players to ever grace the game and is the true definition of made in Brazil. To a certain degree I can understand why football players get frustrated with him, if I was being disgraced so easily with the skill set that Neymar possesses then I too would lose my head. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore. 

Crossing
David Beckham  

There’s a reason why there is a movie called ‘Bend it like Beckham’. Nobody can ever forget the one attribute that Beckham had over any footballer during and even after his years as a footballer. His precision to find anyone, anywhere at any time on the pitch with a whipped or driven pass was second to none.  

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo 

It was only right that I chose Ronaldo. Can’t think of any other right footed player that I adore more than him. He is one of the greatest players ever. That right peg of his has always been a problem and has seen him become the highest goalscorer in the history of the game. 

Left Foot
Roberto Carlos 

One of my earliest football memories as a child and being amazed by what I saw was seeing Roberto Carlos’ fre-kick against France in 1997. I didn’t actually watch the match but three years later it came up on my television and I could not believe how it was possible for a human to shoot at goal from that distance coupled with that power. He is one of the greatest full-backs of all time and helped revolutionise the role, paving the way for the likes of Andrew Robertson and Alphonso Davies today.


You can follow Omoze on Twitter:
@Omointhislife

My Perfect Footballer #5 – Kendall Rowan

Being a 90’s baby means I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some of the G.O.A.T footballers, from Zidane to Ronaldinho and more recently Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

All of them have different abilities and excellence in different areas – so without using a single player for more than one attribute, I’m going to build my perfect footballer.


Brain
Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo had the ability as a player to almost stop the game in real time and scan the length of the pitch in the middle of an attack. If he was a yard behind in pace, he made up two anticipating the ball and was fascinating to watch. He even himself famously said, “football is played with the head, and your feet are just the tools.”

Heading Ability
Didier Drogba

A man mountain on the pitch and a character off it, Drogba ranked very highly for me in terms of players who had an eye, or rather a head, for goal. Scoring some of the greatest goals of his career with his head, Drogba had as much skill up top as he did down at his feet. With heading being almost a dying part of the modern game, an aerial threat like the Ivorian’s is hard to come by. Huge mention to Alan Shearer in this category as well.

Physique
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I have to go with Zlatan for this one. It’s hard to ignore the slender, ripped physique of the man that has allowed him to play at the very highest levels of the game worldwide for over two decades. Not many players have the longevity and the strength to compete like Zlatan has.

Hands
Gianluigi Buffon

One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time who has consistently performed at top level for over 20 years, you cannot deny the shot-stopping ability of this Italian beast. Buffon made incredible saves with ease in his pomp and that makes him my top candidate for this category, alongside being the most capped player in Italian history. A testament to his greatness.

Tackling
Carles Puyol

This Spanish international had a defensive career matched by very few, and in terms of trophies is as decorated as any. Puyol was a master tackler and timed challenges with precision we could only dream of seeing today, meaning he only received one red card in his whole career.

Agility
Neymar

Known for the silky way he dribbles past defenders and his showboating, Neymar for me just simply floats across the pitch with or without a football at his feet. He can zip effortlessly all ways around a defender, has a wicked change of direction and on his day is a sublime watch.

Passing
Xavi

The man who is known for completing the vast majority of his passes in every game and controlled the tempo when the ball was at his feet, Xavi was another easy pick for me here. Any type of pass – short, crossing, through balls; he could do it with ease and accuracy and was a joy to watch for me.

First Touch
Andres Iniesta

Iniesta for me is one of the best to ever do it when receiving a ball. It didn’t matter if it was a long or short pass, the ease with which he could bring it under his spell on the first touch was a thing of beauty to see.

Speed
Kylian Mbappe

This category was one of the hardest to choose because the fastest players change year on year, but I went with this man due to the heights he has reached at such a young age, and consistently for the past 3 years has ranked as one of the fastest players in the world.

Dribbling
Franck Ribery

In the 2000’s, this Frenchman was massively underrated in certain areas of the game, but was amazing to watch when taking on defenders one on one. Stats also don’t lie – for dribbling attempts in a single year, Ribery attempted an enormous 1084 dribbles (2013), compared to Messi’s 331 and Ronaldo’s 252.


Skills
Ronaldinho

If you know and watch football even the tiniest bit, you still know how great this man was. One of my favourite footballers of all time, he had the ability to get you off your seat with the way he moved a football, gracefully but with purpose anywhere on the pitch. He is a master of the art of football.

Crossing
Kevin De Bruyne

A lot of people would’ve opted for Beckham here, so to be different I opted for one of the best attacking midfielders in the world right now, Kevin De Bruyne. He has lit up the Premier League with his accurate passing, eye for goal and electric crosses and has statistically ranked in the best crossers amongst Europe’s top leagues for a few seasons now.

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo

I don’t think this list would even be complete without including the two greatest players of this era. The albeit contested greatest goalscorer of all time, the weapon that is CR7’s right foot has allowed us to see some amazing goals for club and country, and has cemented him in history.

Left Foot
Lionel Messi

As above, these two categories practically picked themselves for me. You cannot deny the prowess these two possess in front of goal, and it’s hard to even ever imagine a player with the ability in both feet of the two greats.

FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

Real Madrid ‘Galacticos’ vs Spain 08-12

If you ask most football fans of a certain age, the first football team they’ll remember globally is Real Madrid’s Galacticos.

A team put together with one superstar signing a year in the early 00’s, with the idea that they would partner up with the best of Real Madrid’s academy – hence the original ‘Zidanes y Pavones’ name given to the group.

Florentino Perez signed Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Ronaldo and Fabio Cannavaro among others to wrestle the La Liga title away from the Camp Nou, while also signing youngsters like Marcelo and Sergio Ramos who would go on to become the face of the club for the next decade-and-a-half.

Shortly after the ‘Galacticos’ era came to an end, Spain dominated the international scene. Under Luis Aragones, Spain won their first ever international title by winning Euro 2008. He was then replaced by Vicente Del Bosque, former manager of Real Madrid’s Galacticos, and he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. With a mixed core of Barcelona and Real Madrid players, Spain brushed aside all challengers and put themselves in the conversation with Brazil 1970 and Puskas’ Hungarians of the 50’s as the best international side ever.

So what would have happened if they’d come up against each other?

Spain were by far the more structured side in terms of style and philosophy. They were a heavy possession-based team, who passed the ball persistently to wear their opponents down. The incredible midfield depth has seen me leave out names like Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla in midfield which shows the options they have to choose from in their golden generation. A big factor they also had was that so many of these players played together at club level- only Fernando Torres never played for either Real Madrid or Barcelona during his career.

At the Bernabeu, it was all about having the best players on the pitch at the same time. They’d often play a lopsided formation to get their players in and it’s no coincidence that their success began to lessen once Claude Makelele left for Chelsea in 2003. They won La Liga in two of the three seasons Makelele was at the club, winning the Champions League in the other to make up for it.

As good as Makelele was, it was the attacking talent on display that often won Madrid games. Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul and Figo make up one of the best attacking line-ups we’ve ever seen on individual ability, while the addition of David Beckham in 2003 just increased that further. While Beckham didn’t win La Liga until the end of the Galacticos era in 2007, he was a huge part of the main side and is thus included in the team.

The midfield is where Spain win this game in my opinion. The pure quality in both directions means they will be able to keep the ball and win it back whenever Madrid get hold of it. The pure quality on show in a Madrid kit makes me think it would be incredibly difficult for Spain to keep a clean sheet but it would be even harder for Los Blancos.

The versatility in the attacking positions of Iniesta, Villa and Torres interchanging means Madrid’s legendary full-backs Michel Salgado and Roberto Carlos would need to be on their best behaviour defensively, which would likely limit them going forward. Makelele is arguably the greatest defensive midfielder of all-time, with the role being named after him due to his role in this team. But without any help, he’d only be able to hold this side off for so long. Zidane, Beckham and Figo aren’t good enough defensively to keep Spain at bay for too long and if they went a goal down, it would be even harder for them to claw the game back.

While those attacking players are lead by the great R9 up front, they need the ball to make magic. Spain averaged 64% possession across the three tournaments they won, meaning Zizou and co would have to be efficient on the counter attack.

I think overall, Spain will just have too much for this Galactico era. The quality on show would make this a fun watch but Spain would dominate the game in a way that only they could with their tiki-taka style and we’d see a lot of frustrated superstars in a white shirt. I’d go with a 3-1 Spain win over 90 minutes, with David Villa and Fernando Torres getting the goals for the World Champions while a long ball from David Beckham to R9 would launch a goalscoring counter-attack in reply.